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Ford halts production and shipments of its electric F-150 Lightning due to potential battery issue

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Ford workers produce the electric F-150 Lightning pickup on Dec. 13, 2022 at the automaker’s Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center (REVC).
Michael Wayland | CNBC

DETROIT – Ford Motor has paused production and shipments of its electric F-150 Lightning pickup due to a potential battery issue, the company said Tuesday.

Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg declined to disclose details of the possible battery issue, which is being investigated after a vehicle displayed a potential problem as part of the automaker’s pre-delivery quality inspections.

The stop-shipment order and halt in production was issued at the beginning of last week, according to Bergg. It adds to ongoing “execution issues” detailed to investors earlier this month by Ford CEO Jim Farley that crippled the automaker’s fourth-quarter earnings.

Shares of Ford were down about 1% in midafternoon trading Tuesday. The stock was trading for under $13 a share.

Ford has not established a timeline for when production and the shipments will resume, according to Bergg.

“The team is diligently working on the root cause analysis,” she said, adding the company is “doing the right thing by our customers” to resolve any potential issues before resuming production and shipments.

Ford is unaware of any incidents or issues associated with the potential battery issue, Bergg said. There is no stop-sale for vehicles already on dealer lots, meaning dealers can continue to sell vehicles they have on hand.

The halt in production and shipments was first reported Tuesday by Motor Authority.

The F-150 Lightning is being closely watched by investors, as it’s the first mainstream electric pickup truck on the market and a major launch for Ford.

Automakers routinely have issues and recalls associated with vehicles but problems with batteries are of particular concern and interest, as the automakers invest billions of dollars in the vehicles.

One of the most notable issues has been with General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt EVs. The Detroit automaker two years ago had to recall all of the vehicles built up until then to address fire issues caused by “rare manufacturing defects” at facilities of its battery supplier LG Battery Solution.

Separate from the F-150 Lightning downtime, production of the traditional F-150 pickup trucks will also be down one shift Wednesday, Ford confirmed Tuesday to CNBC.

The production shift, as well as one for the company’s Transit vans, will be canceled to allow workers at the company’s Kansas City Assembly plant to attend the Super Bowl celebration for the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a memo from the plant’s manager confirmed by Ford.

Night shifts at the plant will resume as scheduled, according to the memo and automaker.

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