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Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck begins preproduction in Michigan

Big Blue Oval is investing an additional $250 million in its EV facilities, adding some 450 jobs in the process.

Almost there!

Mass-production electric pickup trucks are slowly moving from marketing blitzes to actual vehicles. Rivian recently announced that production has begun on its R1T and now Ford's taking the next step in bringing its own electric truck to consumers.

Ford announced on Thursday that preproduction models of the Ford F-150 Lightning have started rolling off the line at the automaker's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in southeast Michigan. Preproduction vehicles are used for real-world testing to smooth out any kinks ahead of proper mass production. Ford estimates that the Lightning will be available to the public next spring, and this step brings the OEM one step closer to that eventuality.

Since its unveiling, the F-150 Lightning has garnered a significant amount of attention. The automaker claims some 150,000 reservations for its first electric pickup. Because of the significant demand, Ford also announced on Thursday that it will invest an additional $250 million in the Rouge EV Center (vehicle assembly), Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center (electric motor assembly) and Rawsonville Components plant (battery assembly).

Big Blue Oval expects this investment will add 450 direct jobs and allow the company to boost production capacity to approximately 80,000 trucks per year.

"I am proud of Ford for committing to invest $30 billion in electrification through 2025, including this additional $250 million today to create 450 jobs in Dearborn, Ypsilanti and Sterling Heights supporting the production of the new F-150 Lightning," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. "I will stay laser-focused at the state level on making investments in the future of mobility and electrification too, and together, we can create good-paying, high-skill union jobs and lead the world in electric vehicle development and manufacturing."

Ford's Rouge EV Center will keep sustainability in mind during vehicle production. The facility will rely on natural and LED lighting, and its forklift fleet will rely on hydrogen fuel cells. The building itself is built atop a recycled foundation, using some construction materials from the Dearborn Assembly Plant it replaces.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is expected to carry a starting price around $40,000 before federal and local incentives. The base model will produce an estimated 426 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque with an expected range of about 230 miles, while a beefier extended-range variant will boost horsepower to 563 and extend the range to about 300 miles. Both vehicles will come standard with four-wheel drive with payloads in excess of 1,800 pounds and tow ratings north of 7,500 pounds.