The first Ford F-150 Lightning rolls off the line, Ram flies a kite in a thunderstorm, dealer finance models go opaque. All this on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
It’s a big day for workers at Ford’s Rouge plant and Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck reservation holders, as today’s the day Ford’s electric truck officially goes into production. Sure, the GMC Hummer EV may have come first, but I’d argue that the F-150 Lightning is more important as it’s priced and positioned as a work truck rather than as a luxury vehicle.
Now, Ford’s start-of-production announcement comes on the heels of other corporate announcements, so here we go. Since the F-150 Lightning has attracted 200,000 non-fleet reservations, Ford’s investing in expanding capacity at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to produce 150,000 of the trucks in 2023, the car company says on its website. That’s an 87.5 percent increase over the center’s current capacity of 80,000 trucks per year. Ford also claims to be on track for a global EV mix of roughly 33 percent by 2026, a massive achievement in the race for EV domination. Perhaps more importantly, the F-150 Lightning will reduce carbon emissions at the more polluting end of the new vehicle spectrum. Electric compact cars are great and all, but they’re a bit like polishing the chrome trim on a rolling shell when we could be throwing a powertrain in the damn thing. Strategic targeting of thirstier vehicle segments is how we get to a cleaner future sooner. I’d imagine the long-term cost savings are pretty good as well.
Regarding the start of F-150 Lightning production, Ford will be doing a special livestream at 1:30 p.m. ET that can be streamed at this link. Given vehicle transit times, it’s fair to assume that early consumers will start taking delivery of their new trucks in the next few weeks, exciting times for the nation’s EV enthusiasts. It’s safe to say that we can’t wait to get our mitts on the Lightning. Ford’s electric pickup truck seems practical, reasonably-priced and quite desirable. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Taunting The Storm
Good news, Detroit is still Detroit. Just before the first Ford F-150 Lightning electric half-ton pickup truck was set to roll off the line, cross-town rival Ram swooped in with a big announcement. Apparently we’ll be seeing some form of electric Ram pickup truck this fall, which should add even more hype to the red-hot EV truck wars. Ram released this teaser video that appears to show the lighting signature and front-on silhouette of its upcoming electric pickup truck, and my god are those fenders ever beefy.
— Ram Trucks (@RamTrucks) April 25, 2022
Granted, we’re not entirely sure what we’ll be seeing from Ram this fall. All official reports have pegged the electric Ram pickup truck’s arrival date as sometime in 2024, some two years from now. Some outlets like The Detroit News are claiming that we’ll only see a concept version this fall, which is honestly quite possible. Regardless, there are a few things we do know about the new all-electric Ram. Firstly, it’ll ride on Stellantis’ STLA Frame architecture, a large electric vehicle platform that supports battery pack sizes larger than 200 kWh, peak range of 500 miles and a vehicle length of between 5,400 mm (212.6 inches) and 5,900 mm (232.3 inches). Secondly, it’ll be available as an extended-range electric vehicle with an on-board generator to charge the batteries. Finally, the debut configuration of the upcoming electric Ram will be some form of crew cab, as evidenced by earlier Stellantis-issued teaser photos.
Now granted, Ram is a bit late to the EV truck party. GMC Hummer EVs and Rivian R1Ts are already rolling around, the Ford F-150 Lightning is now in production, the Chevrolet Silverado EV is available for reservation with deliveries set to start next fall, and there’s even a very slim chance that the Cybertruck will make it to market before the Ram EV. However, being late to the party isn’t a bad thing. Ram can get a good look at what tech its competitors are wearing, what capabilities said competitors are bringing to the potluck and what over-the-air updates develop, then plan accordingly. There’s still a lot up in the air, but it’s safe to say that the truck wars will get very interesting in 2024.
Sleazy Does It
There’s something about the motor trade that invites a special kind of ill repute. Where else can someone finance an aged, weathered depreciating asset at 28 percent APR for 60 months? Still, at least there’s a level of transparency provided by the National Automobile Dealership Association’s (NADA) average dealership financial profile data. Are dealers raking money in hand-over-fist? Are employees paid enough to make rent and bills? How long is the average financing term? Are a worrying number of subprime customers being turned towards leasing? All good questions that NADA’s average profile report answers. Or should I say answered.
Yes, NADA is now restricting access to its average dealer financial profile data by only allowing certain dealers to view metrics. Alarm bells are ringing, and they’re coming from inside the house. According to Automotive News, Patrick Manzi, NADA’s chief economist, was not part of the discussion regarding restricting data access. Moreover, Manzi said, “I don’t have a good explanation” for why the average dealer financial profile data is now restricted. If you’re thinking that this seems like a bad thing for everyone, you’re probably right. Car dealerships have a long way to go to dispel the sleazy salesperson stereotype, and NADA obfuscating financial information on the coattails of record dealer revenue certainly isn’t helping.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. It’s April 26, so I wish all of you a very happy Hemi day. As for my big question of the morning, I’d love to know what cars you constantly find yourself looking for on the online classifieds. I’ve got saved searches for 2007-2008 BMW 750is, 2004-2005 Toyota Echo Hatchbacks and hydropneumatic Citroëns, so I’m probably not right in the head. While the market right now almost keeps me out of the buyer pool, I’m still saving my quarters and not letting the dream die.
Lead photo credit: Ford