Ford Motor is set to ramp up production of the hybrid version of its F-150 pickup truck as the company grapples with slower-than-expected sales of its all-electric vehicles. The automaker expects to increase sales of the V-6 hybrid model to roughly 20% during the 2024 model year in the U.S. While specific production figures have not been released, this expansion likely translates to tens of thousands more hybrid vehicles hitting the market.
However, achieving this production target may prove to be challenging as Ford and its crosstown rivals prepare for a potential strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) that could result in the closure of some or all of their U.S. factories. To avoid work stoppages, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis must reach separate agreements with the UAW for their 146,000 autoworkers by the looming deadline.
Ford’s decision to double down on hybrid vehicles comes after CEO Jim Farley announced a quadrupling of gas-electric hybrid production in late July. The company plans to increase EV production but at a slower pace than previously announced.
Farley highlighted the importance of balancing growth, profitability, and returns, stating that the demand for their internal combustion and hybrid portfolio will be durable. This strategic shift aims to capture a longer and richer window of growth than initially anticipated.
Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s traditional “Blue” business unit, expresses confidence that the F-150 could become the best-selling hybrid in North America, dethroning Toyota Motor’s RAV4 or Prius. This renewed emphasis on hybrid vehicles allows Ford to retain many engine manufacturing jobs for the foreseeable future — a favorable outcome for the union.
The Benefits of Hybrid Vehicles
Hybrid vehicles integrate internal combustion engines with small batteries that improve both performance and fuel economy. These models differ from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which require charging like all-electric vehicles to harness the advantages of electrification.
Ford’s 2024 F-150 hybrid, equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 “PowerBoost” engine, adds a hybrid variant to its lineup. The company has not disclosed specific pricing details for this model, but the current version offers the hybrid option for at least an additional $2,500.
John Emmert, Ford truck general manager, explains that the decision to increase production stems from the surging demand for hybrid models, which has outpaced production capacity for the F-150 and Ford Maverick small pickup. In fact, hybrids account for over 60% of Maverick sales, reflecting consumer interest in transitioning to full electric options gradually.
Emmert sees hybrid vehicles as a steppingstone toward electrification. For some customers, fully electric vehicles may not be the most suitable choice at the moment, making hybrid models an attractive alternative. Ford recognizes that towing and range requirements, as well as rural environments, may necessitate the use of traditional combustion engines, and hybrid options cater to these specific needs.
Ford has a history of implementing significant changes to its engine lineup to enhance fuel economy and performance. The introduction of twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engines for the 2011 F-150 raised skepticism initially but now powers a majority of the vehicles sold by the company.
Emmert acknowledges Ford’s commitment to meeting the diverse needs of their customers, citing the availability of an F-150 engine for every use case. While some customers still require V-8 engines for towing and longer range, the all-electric F-150 Lightning may not be ideal for those living in rural areas. The hybrid engine serves as a flexible solution for a broader range of customers.
Ford assures customers that the hybrid engine will be offered at the same price as their 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. This pricing strategy aims to remove potential cost barriers and encourage wider adoption of the hybrid variant.
The 2024 F-150: Enhanced Features and Design
Alongside the production increase, Ford unveils a refreshed version of the F-150 for the 2024 model year. While details are scarce, the company states that the entire lineup will start at $35,570, slightly higher than the starting price of $34,585 for the 2023 edition.
The F-150 hybrid boasts an impressive 430 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque, making it one of the most powerful options in the F-Series lineup aside from the Raptor and Raptor R V-8 performance models. Though Ford has not disclosed the full range of specifications, this enhanced hybrid promises improved performance and capability.
In addition to exterior and interior updates, the 2024 F-150 features a new tailgate design that allows customers to access the vehicle’s bed like a traditional door, along with a traditional drop-down tailgate. Furthermore, buyers can expect a host of new safety and convenience features.
Ford’s decision to double production of the F-150 hybrid comes as the company navigates slower sales of its all-electric vehicles. By emphasizing hybrid models, Ford aims to strike a balance between profitability and growth while recognizing the enduring demand for internal combustion and hybrid powertrains. As the automotive industry evolves, Ford’s strategic initiatives and continued innovation position the company to meet the evolving needs of its customers.