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Motor Trend explains how Ford's has been able to keep the F-150 Lightning's starting price so low. They cover areas such as scale and sharing parts with other EVs.

It's All About Scale
To reach its target starting price for the Lightning, Ford is leveraging the clout of the F-150—the best-selling truck for 44 years. The key to transforming a legacy business is to play to its strengths, Palmer said, which in Ford's case is scale.

The Lightning has much in common with the regular F-150, including the overall dimensions of its cab and bed. It also uses the same seats and gearshift that folds out of the way to make room for a workspace between the seats. By keeping the Lightning's cargo box dimension's the same as other F-150s, Ford affords gas- and diesel-powered F-150 owners the opportunity to transfer their accessories and tools to the Lightning, should they choose to buy the electric truck.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro is an entry-level trim designed for commercial customers who replace about 15 percent of their fleet annually. Palmer said the same telematics from other F-150s carries over to the electric work truck.

Future Ford EVs Will Share Components
Ford plans to build new electric vehicle components (such as batteries, motors, control units, inverters, and chargers) to scale, and it will spread these items across a number of its upcoming electric vehicles. Even better for Ford is the fact the company is making many of these new components in-house.

Additional savings come courtesy of Ford's decision to expand the Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, which already makes other F-150 variants. The addition of a production line for the Lightning also allows Ford to tinker with the truck's trim-specific features, such as its skateboard-like chassis and independent rear suspension. "We could modify the frame and still get a good price from suppliers," Palmer said.

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Autoblog spoke with Darren Palmer, general manager of Ford’s Battery Electric Vehicles division, and he shared some more insight into how the Lightning's pricing came to be.

The answer is largely a simple one — scale — but there are a couple of other choices Ford made to get the Lightning to where it needed to be that we’ll explain later, too.

“But then we work on how we get it for the right price, because I wanted it at a price that is within gas price or nearby,” Palmer says. “Because then the barrier is gone. The psychological barrier in the mind. Once they’ve flipped, they’ve gone for it, they never want to go back. But getting them to flip, because their current truck works pretty well, it’s hard.

“So I knew I had to break that barrier,” Palmer continues. "So the top half of this truck has a scale of 4 million units. That seat, we buy 4 million of. We get the best price in the industry. The front trunk, apart from the unique components, the whole rest of the truck, we get 4 million units.”

The secret to a low price isn’t much of a secret, really. It’s staring you right in the face with the giant F-150 body and interior that is hardly changed from the gasoline F-150 that is the best-selling vehicle in the country today. A massive number of parts used in every other F-150 are also used in the Lightning, giving Ford scale for an electric pickup that they don’t even sell in scale yet. It just makes sense.

“The frame at the bottom is all-new with all-new suspension, but it’s through the same supplier who makes our other frames,” Palmer says. “And they’ve got the facility, so we work with them to produce the all-new frame, but at a reasonable price point, given the fact they build a million frames for us.”

The list of parts sharing goes on, but what about the expensive electric components and battery pack?

“And then share the motors and ESCs, speed controllers, charging chargers and the battery with many other vehicles in our portfolio,” Palmer goes on to say. “The next-generation of SUVs coming, the larger trucks, and the SK Innovation batteries. So we get great scale, and we share the components and technology in them, which means we get great value in the electric system.”

Yes, Palmer is basically saying that there will be more electric trucks and SUVs in Ford’s lineup that use the battery and electric motors in the F-150 Lightning. That’s exciting to hear, seeing as how all these components are nearing production-ready status. More big Ford and Lincoln EVs are definitely on the way. He went on to assure us that Ford will indeed be making a profit on the Lightning. Otherwise, the bosses wouldn’t approve such a venture, Palmer told us.

There’s one last thing that Palmer mentioned that helps with the price and image of the truck in the beginning. We asked him why the Lightning was only available in a single configuration, and not the unending number of options offered on the gasoline F-150.

“Number one, this is the most popular configuration by far — that's a 5.5-foot box, full-size truck and Supercrew — that’s one that made it easy,” Palmer says. “Secondly, the cost-saving for taking some of these things out, it’s not worth it to the customer at that price point at the moment. We’re already cheaper than gas. We’re already giving what most people want. We don’t need it yet. One day in the future, we may go for it. We’ll see how it goes, but we didn’t need it just yet. These are gonna be compelling as is. Later on, we’ll see where demand stays.”

Rather obviously again, offering the Lightning in relatively few configurations helps Ford keep the price in check. It also allows Ford to advertise the Lightning as the mother-of-all F-150s. Since there’s no basic rear-drive model, Ford can say that the Lightning (no matter what one you choose) beats the gasoline truck in many key performance metrics like power, acceleration and other capability categories.

In the end, we have the gasoline F-150’s scale to thank for allowing the electric model’s price.

“All those together," Palmer concludes, "means we can offer a product at a price lower than anybody."
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