While the United Auto Workers union continues to strike, Ford announced a flashy new trim for its new fully electric truck for the 2024 model year: the Ford Lightning Flash. It will sit between the Lightning’s midrange trim levels, the Lariat, and its next highest trim, the XLT.
Electrek reported earlier this year that Ford would be launching a new high-performance version of the Ford Lightning after it spotted that it filed for the trademark “Flash.” The publication had good reason to believe this was true, namely Ford’s recent return to F1 racing and its sneak peek of new performance-focused EVs which included a high-performance truck.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the Flash will not be much more exciting than the other trims of the Ford Lightning. Nevertheless, it could become a popular trim because of the new features it adds. Ford seems to want to boost sales with this model as it adds some new features only seen in the highest trims.
Perhaps most important is the Flash’s increased range. The EPA estimates 320 miles of range on a full charge, significantly more than standard range models which don’t even reach 300. Though extended range variants still beat it out with about 350 miles of range according to the EPA.
The new trim’s range may actually be improved even more over standard models for those living in cold climates. Ford announced that it would include a heat pump for the truck’s batteries which should help fix its problem with dramatically reduced range in the cold.
Greencarreports tested the real range of a Ford Lightning Extended Range model and found that its range was reduced by over 1/3rd to about 200 miles when driven at about 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
The same report notes that internal combustion engines also suffer decreased efficiency in the cold. However, most gasoline vehicles will still have a much greater range than 200 miles, even in the freezing cold.
We don’t yet know how much the heat pump will help with the cold weather range problem but it should at least be somewhat significant. Even if it doesn’t eliminate most of the problem, the Flash will still be an enticing trim level.
The Flash will be priced at $69,995, though it will still qualify for the federal EV tax credit of $7,500, effectively making it $62,495. It will also include a myriad of other features that are missing on the lower Pro and XLT trims.
The upgrades mostly revolve around tech. It will have the same 15.5-inch touchscreen that comes in the Lariat and Platinum premium trims and will include a wireless charging pad and power tailgate to boot. It also adds the newest version of Ford’s hands-free advanced driver assistance system which can even change lanes for you.
Will Ford’s EV Business Ever Turn a Profit?
Ford’s decision to add a new Lightning trim level with better features for the price is great for consumers who want an advanced, American-made, electric truck. However, it may not be a great sign for the business overall.
Ford has never even come close to turning a profit on its flagship EVs, which include the Mustang Mach-E as well as the Lightning. It claimed that it will lose a whopping $4.5 billion on its EV business in 2023.
It wanted to build 600,000 EVs per year by the end of this year but the CEO, Jim Farley, said that it pushed the milestone back a year. Its goal to reach 2 million EVs produced by 2026 was abandoned altogether.
Losses may continue to worsen if the United Auto Workers strike continues to rage on. The automaker laid off 330 workers after it idled 2 factories that supplied parts to an assembly plant that is marred with striking workers.
While the UAW and its members are mostly concerned about their wages which have fallen dramatically due to inflation, they are also worried about the transition to EVs. EVs are often more difficult to design well but they require much less skilled labor than internal combustion engine-powered vehicles.
Business Insider reported that companies like Volkswagen claimed that EVs will require 30% fewer workers total to build. This is because EVs just need a few motors and a bunch of batteries whereas gas cars require tons of skilled labor to manufacture complex engines and transmissions.
Most UAW workers seem to understand that EVs are likely the future no matter how this strike turns out. However, they are still pushing for more job security as the age of the EVs could wipe out 30% of their jobs.
It remains unclear what effects the strikes will have on the EV scene and the car industry as a whole in the US but labor still makes up only a small portion of the cost per vehicle (about 5%) so it may not cause any major shifts.