Ford identifies cause of F-150 Lightning battery issue, production restarts in ‘a few weeks’ (updated)

Ford has issued a nationwide “stop shipment” order to all its carriers, instructing them to hold F-150 Lightnings while a potential battery issue is investigated. Ford is not aware of any incidences of the issue in the field and has not stopped sales of the Lightning, only shipments. It has also paused production while the issue is investigated.

Update: Ford has identified what they believe to be the cause of the issue, and expects to have production started in “a few weeks” and that they do not think already-delivered customer vehicles are affected.

The stop shipment order applies to all of Ford’s carriers, who were told earlier this week to stop shipping Lightning trucks until further notice.

Thus, this applies to cars in transit but not on dealer lots. But for current Lightning shoppers, that’s not likely to make much difference.

F-150 Lightnings are scarce at dealers currently, despite price increases, as Ford continues to fulfill its massive order list. Many customers are waiting for vehicles to be delivered, rather than being able to walk in and grab one off the dealer lot. Most Lightnings which make their way to dealers are already reserved and will only be released to the public if the order holder decides not to go through with the purchase for some reason.

We heard from one Lightning order holder last week who was told that their vehicle was placed on a stop shipment, though Ford had no other information to give them at the time.

After reaching out to Ford PR, we learned a little more about the issue. Here’s what Ford told us:

As part of our pre-delivery quality inspections, a vehicle displayed a potential battery issue and we are holding vehicles while we investigate.

The potential quality issue is related to the battery. We are conducting a root cause analysis.  This potential issue was identified as part of our pre-delivery quality inspections. We are not aware of any incidences of this issue in the field. There is no stop sale.

Ford did not have further information about how many vehicles may be affected or how long this pause is expected to last but told us it would let us know as soon as it has information on the root cause.

Update: Ford PR reached out with more information stating that they have discovered the root cause of the problem. Here’s their new statement:

We are suspending production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center through at least the end of next week. During a standard Lightning pre-delivery quality inspection, one vehicle displayed a battery issue. We believe we have identified the root cause of this issue. By the end of next week, we expect to conclude our investigation and apply what we learn to the truck’s battery production process; this could take a few weeks. We will continue holding already-produced vehicles while we work through engineering and process updates.  

We are not aware of any incidents of this issue in the field and do not believe F-150 Lightnings already in customers’ hands are affected by this issue. 

We asked specifically whether Ford thinks this will result in a recall, and Ford reiterated that they do not believe any customer Lightnings are affected.

The F-150 Lightning’s battery is supplied by SK On, a spinoff of Korean firm SK Innovation. We are not aware of any other major battery issues from SK-supplied batteries, and they have not been subject to any recalls before. We are also not aware of significant Lightning issues in the field, except for one owner whose Lightning suffered a partial battery module failure while charging at an Electrify America charger – though that seemed to be the charger’s fault, not the car’s.

Electrek’s Take

We have very little information on this yet, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of this with speculation. Ford is going big on electric vehicles, so it makes sense that they would exercise an abundance of caution, given media overreactions to anything that has to do with EVs. But, since we have a lot of readers who are waiting for their truck orders to be fulfilled, we wanted to bring you the information about what’s happening with your orders.

The curious part is that there’s a stop shipment but no stop sale. Thus, this could be an issue that only affects vehicles in transit, which means owners don’t really have to worry about anything. If Ford is confident to allow dealers to release vehicles to customers, at least they must not think there is any safety issue at the moment.

Or perhaps there’s an alternate, more human explanation, and Ford thinks it’s easier to hold back vehicles that are still in transit or finishing production, but that order holders would be more perturbed if they saw their truck waiting on the dealer lot and yet they were unable to take delivery of it.

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