Ford and its F-150 pickup, the automaker’s best-selling vehicle, have consistently inspired brand loyalty from pickup truck owners. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, Ford has a 54.3% loyalty rate. Now as the automaker moves to electrify its fleet, it seems to be bringing in fresh buyers.
Ford released Wednesday its second quarter earnings for 2021, which besides containing a surprise profit despite the ongoing chip shortage, revealed that its F-150 Lightning electric pickup has generated 120,000 preorders since its unveiling in May. Ford reported revenue of $26.8 billion, slightly below expectations, and net income of $561 million in the second quarter.
To be clear, these are not orders and don’t reflect exactly how many of these vehicles Ford will sell. Customers can reserve one of these EVs by placing a refundable $100 deposit.
However, it does provide some insight into demand.
Importantly, three-quarters of those new orders come from customers that are new to Ford, according to the earnings release. During the call on Wednesday, CEO Jim Farley also said two out of five Lightning preorders are going to trade in an ICE pickup.
Not only does this potentially affect Ford’s sales, it also validates the company’s recent forays into battery production. Automakers across the world are engaging in battery joint ventures with cell and chemistry companies, and Ford is no different. The company has a partnership with SK Innovation to manufacture battery cells on American soil, and is creating a battery R&D center in Michigan, a part of its $30 billion investment into electrification.
Increased sales can also help with Ford’s expensive undertaking to invest in embedded electrical architecture upgrade that allows Ford to more easily update future EVs and enable new connected capabilities, according to Farley.
“So when we talk about upgrading our electric vehicles, it’s much more fundamental than just the investment in the tooling and the engineering of the electric vehicle and its components and propulsion,” said Farley during the call. “It also includes a completely new approach to an embedded software and hardware system.”
The F-150 Lightning comes with a lot of upgrades that make it attractive to Ford newcomers willing to pay more than the $40,000 base price. It’s got the same torque and power as its gas counterpart, plus a hands-free ADAS BlueCruise system, a comprehensive infotainment unit and enough battery capacity to power your whole house in the event of an outage.
Farley also said during the call that the new Ford Maverick, a compact hybrid pickup which starts at $20,000, already has around 80,000 orders. The hybrid is marketed towards people who aren’t exactly pickup truck people, but who maybe want to dip their toes into that utility pool.
“The demand for our first round of high volume EVs clearly has exceeded our most optimistic projections,” said Farley. “We’re now working around the clock to break constraints, and increase our manufacturing capacity for these red hot new battery electric vehicles”
According to the earnings report, the combined U.S. customer-sold retail order bank for the electric Mustang Mach-E and other Ford vehicles was seven times larger than at the same point last year. With demand increasing, Farley said the business is “spring loaded” for a rebound when semiconductor supplies stabilize.