Ford Dials Back F-150 Lightning Production To Scale Up Bronco And Ranger

Happy Friday! It’s January 19, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift — your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, all in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Ford Cuts Lightning Production, Ramps Up Bronco And Ranger

EV pickups are an odd sell — the eco-friendly drivetrain adds a dash of care to a vehicle traditionally known for its lack thereof. How do you square “I bought this vehicle to roll coal on cyclists as I run them down” with “but I care about the trees?” Well, that’s a question Ford is still trying to answer. From the Detroit News:

Ford Motor Co.’s decision to reduce all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup production is affecting 1,400 jobs in Dearborn. Meanwhile, it’s hiring nearly 900 people in Wayne for assembly of Bronco SUVs and Ranger midsize trucks.

The Dearborn automaker in a Friday news release said it’s seeking to balance production to meet customer demand. It says it expects growth for Lightning sales this year, but it’s less than previously anticipated. The production cut is the latest pullback by the automaker in the EV space.

“We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability. Customers love the F-150 Lightning, America’s best-selling EV pickup,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “We see a bright future for electric vehicles for specific consumers, especially with our upcoming digitally advanced EVs and access to Tesla’s charging network beginning this quarter.”

The Lightning is a deeply cool truck, and I’d much rather see it on the road than any number of coal-rolling F250 Super Duties. Maybe Ford can split the difference here with a RangEVr or a B(atter)onco. Names are still in development.

2nd Gear: The U.S. Government Will Start Fixing EV Chargers

The worst part of owning an EV is charging it. Not because of how long it takes, or how often it needs to happen, but simply how frustrating the process is — busted chargers, iced-out spots, high-speed chargers taken up by slow-charging vehicles, it just sucks. Now, the feds are stepping in to help out with at least one of those. From Reuters:

Jan 19 (Reuters) – The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy will invest $325 million across three programs to advance EV technologies, repair chargers and cut battery costs, the White House said in a statement on Friday.

“This new funding for EV chargers will repair and replace existing, non-operational chargers across the country, reduce costs for deploying charging in underserved communities, and cut battery costs”, the statement added.

Hopefully, a bit of cash can smooth out the EV transition during these janky early years. Once chargers are as reliable as gas pumps, we may start to see more folks shift over to battery power.

3rd Gear: Chrysler Is Having A Mid-Life Crisis

Sometimes, in this business, you end up feeling like the “consultants” from Office Space. You sit down, across the table from Chrysler, and you ask: “What would you say you do here?” It seems Chrysler, too, is working on getting that answer. From Automotive News:

The Chrysler brand is suffering from an identity crisis. What is it? What does it want to be? Those are questions that Brand CEO Christine Feuell has to answer. Quickly.

Just one year shy of its 100th anniversary, the longtime brand with roots in Detroit — and a significant presence in Canada — offers just one product: a minivan.

The Chrysler Pacifica and Grand Caravan are available in Canada and the Pacifica and Voyager fleet vehicle are available in the United States. They’re all built on the same platform in Windsor, Ontario.

The Pacifica is a fantastic road trip mini van, but it’s not enough to bear the weight of an entire brand on its shoulders alone. What’s next for Chrysler?

4th Gear: People Are Loving The Lyriq

Cadillac’s dealers didn’t take too kindly to the Lyriq, quitting the business rather than retooling to sell EVs as the General wanted. Those objections, however, appear to have meant objecting to raking in cold hard cash — the Lyriq is selling. From the Detroit Free Press:

General Motors said it is increasing production of its Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV this year after resolving battery module production problems that hindered sales in the last two years.

The brand also added new dealerships last year in New York, Texas, Los Angeles and Atlanta, where EV adoption is most common, said John Roth, vice president of global Cadillac, during a media roundtable Thursday.

Roth declined to say how many new dealerships Cadillac added. In 2020, about 170-180 of Cadillac’s 870 U.S. dealers, or about 20%, took buyouts from the brand to give up their franchise rather than make the investment to sell and service EVs.

It’ll be interesting to see whether those dealerships meaningfully impact Cadillac sales — if the bottleneck moves up the supply chain to the distribution end — or if the brand is wholly unaffected by their departure. In the EV age, it could go either way.

Reverse: It Was Many And Many A Year Ago, In A Kingdom By The Sea

On The Radio: 100 Gecs – Boiler Room DJ Set

100 gecs | Boiler Room: Los Angeles

Is there any rule on the books saying that On The Radio has to be a single song? If there is, nobody told me. Throw this 86-minute DJ set on in your headphones at work, you’ll enjoy it. I’ve listened through it all more than once.

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