Before This Month’s Fire, Ford Forewarned Certain F-150 Lightning Owners of a Different EV Battery Issue

Before This Month's Fire, Ford Forewarned Certain F-150 Lightning Owners of a Different EV Battery Issue
  • The Detroit automaker has recently faced issues with its all-electric pickup truck, including a defective battery that caused a Ford F-150 Lightning to catch fire earlier this month.
  • A week before the fire, some F-150 Lightning owners were asked to have their vehicles serviced for a separate issue to replace parts to “prevent performance degradation” of the truck’s battery.
  • It is not thought that the battery fire in February is related to the issue from January. 4, according to a Ford spokeswoman.

DETROIT — The Detroit automaker’s new all-electric pickup truck has recently run into a number of issues, not the least of which was a faulty battery that ignited a Ford F-150 Lightning that was in the company’s possession earlier this month.

On Jan. 27, a week before the fire, the company issued a “customer service action” for a small group of vehicles to have parts replaced to “prevent performance degradation” of the high-voltage battery. Ford Motor said the problem only affected about 100 vehicles so far and is not believed to be connected to the Ford reported that it is remotely monitoring the vehicles and alerting customers to issues as soon as it notices them.

Despite the small number of affected vehicles, this adds to a pattern of issues Ford and other automakers are facing as they spend billions bringing electric vehicles to market quickly. The majority of the industry’s problems have been minor. However, when they involve the expensive and sophisticated vehicle batteries, serious safety issues, specifically fires, can develop.

According to CEO Jim Farley’s remarks to investors days prior to the fire that broke out in a Ford holding yard, the F-150 Lightning problems are a part of ongoing quality and operational problems for Ford.

“We have deeply entrenched issues in our industrial system that have proven tough to root out,” he said Feb. 2 during an earnings call for the fourth quarter. “Candidly, the strength of our products and revenue has masked this dysfunctionality for a long time. It’s not an excuse, but it’s our reality. And we’re dealing with it urgently.”

Ford is not the only automaker having issues with its most recent EV launches; executives have claimed that Ford was the most recalled automaker for the past two years.

Toyota Motor last year had to recall its first mass-produced global EV due to the possibility that the wheels could come loose. General Motors two years ago recalled all of its because of problems with fire, Chevrolet Bolt EV models. Due to fire risks, other manufacturers, including Hyundai, BMW, and Volvo, have also recently recalled electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids.

To be clear, fire concerns are not just a problem for electric vehicles; they have always been and still are a problem for the auto industry. Stellantis’ This week, Ram Trucks issued a recall for 340,000 large diesel pickup trucks to replace an electrical connector due to reports of six fires.

Ford’s Jan. 27 notice was issued for a battery module problem, which can first show a “wrench” warning on the dash before slowing down into a restrained performance mode or, at worst, becoming immobile by not shifting into drive.

“This not a safety recall. This is a proactive investigation to help prevent customers of the identified vehicles from experiencing a degradation in battery performance and to obtain field parts for evaluation,” Marty Gunsberg, a spokesman for Ford, stated in a statement sent via email.

The amount of “customer service actions” Since the F-150 Lightning’s launch in April 2022, Ford has issued, but it was not immediately accessible.

Ford, as communicated to customers, is replacing “certain high-voltage battery module(s)” from the vehicles with new parts free of charge to reconcile the issue. The time needed for the fix is one day, according to information provided by a “CXS, Ford Concern Team Battery Electric Specialist” to at least one customer.

Regarding the issue that caused the fire and prompted Ford to halt production and shipments of the vehicle early last week, Ford said it is unaware of any incidents or issues associated with vehicles already delivered to dealers or customers.

Ford stated on Wednesday that it thinks its engineers have discovered the fire’s primary cause. The investigation into the problem is expected to be completed by the end of next week, followed by adjustments to the truck’s battery production process that “could take a few weeks.”

Investors are paying close attention to the F-150 Lightning because it is a significant launch for Ford and the first widely available electric pickup truck. By fall 2023, the company plans to almost double the vehicle’s production capacity at a plant in Michigan to 150,000 units.

Although Ford withholds information regarding the F-150 Lightning’s production, more than 2,200 of these vehicles were sold by the company in the previous month. Ford reported that the car sold more than 15,600 units in 2022.


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