DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. plans to spend $250 million and add 450 jobs at three Michigan plants to meet demand for the new F-150 Lightning.
Ford already has taken more than 150,000 reservations for the new electric version of its immensely popular F-150 pickup, Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas, said during a news event Thursday.
"As the orders have been coming in, as the reservations have been coming in, it was just time for us to [increase] the capacity to meet that demand," he said.
Galhotra made the announcement at the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in the automaker's hometown of Dearborn, where the first pre-production trucks are being made.
Ford provided tours of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to members of the media as well as government officials, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who said the facility "will be a place where the future is determined and built by the hard-working men and women of the UAW."
Ford officials hope the F-150 Lightning will be at the forefront of America's transition from gasoline to battery-powered vehicles. The new truck, which will be available to customers by next spring, will be able to travel up to 300 miles per battery charge and has a starting price of around $40,000.
Ford's $250 million investment will create 450 hourly direct jobs, with most of those workers assembling the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Workers at the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti will assemble batteries, and the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center in Sterling Heights will increase its capacity to supply electric motors and electric transaxles for the Lightning.
The investment and added jobs will help increase production capacity to 80,000 trucks a year, Ford said.
This is on top of the initial $700 million investment Ford announced in 2020 as part of a plan to add 300 jobs at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to support battery assembly and production of the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid and fully electric F-150.
"Electric vehicles aren't a foofoo California car," Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn said. "They are what real Americans drive."
Ford has been able to track early interest and convert that to sales with its pivot to requiring online refundable reservation orders as part of a new protocol for carmakers. Ford did the same with its all-electric Mustang Mach-E.
The 2021 F-150 Hybrid has been promoted throughout the year for its ability to work as a portable generator and provide power to families without electricity, whether during a winter storm or a wedding.
The automaker, which is the largest employer of hourly automotive factory workers in the U.S., has invested $7.7 billion in Michigan and created and retained 7,000 Michigan jobs since 2016, the company said.
Ford highlighted its bringing Bronco and Ranger production to Michigan, refurbishing Michigan Central Station, developing a new Ford Research and Engineering Campus in Dearborn and creating Ford's $100 million Ion Park in Romulus.
"Michigan has been the home of Ford since its founding in 1903 and these sites represent a growing network across southeast Michigan that will support the next generation of Ford's battery electric, connected and autonomous vehicles," Ford said in its news release.
"Today's announcement is a great example of the right way to navigate the transition to tomorrow's vehicles by ensuring good-paying jobs of the future. Investing in building vehicles right here, in the United States, with the hard working men and women of the UAW. Investments like this can pave the way to a future that protects our families, our communities and our middle class," Laura Dickerson, director of United Auto Workers Region 1A, told the Detroit Free Press.
Information for this article was contributed by Mike Householder of The Associated Press and by Phoebe Wall Howard of Detroit Free Press (TNS).