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Ford delivers its first F-150 Lightning as EV truck war kicks into high gear

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The first F-150 Lightning goes to a rural Michigan man who also owns a Tesla Model 3

Photo by Andrew Hawkins / The Verge

A rural Michigan man became the first person in the nation to receive a Ford F-150 Lightning, according to Bloomberg. Nicholas Schmidt, the chief technology officer of a grid optimization startup, took delivery Thursday of a silver electric truck at Richardson Ford, a dealership in the small town of Standish, Michigan.

According to Bloomberg, Schmidt owns a Tesla Model 3 and put a deposit down for one of the company’s Cybertrucks and also considered purchasing a Rivian R1T truck as well. He said his wife was relieved when it was clear that the F-150 Lightning would be the first to arrive. (Schmidt has since tweeted that his Cybertruck reservation is “no longer needed.”)

Ford is counting on its decades of production and delivery expertise as well as its vast network of dealerships as it seeks to vault over its rivals in the race to get electric trucks to the most people. Trucks are among the top-selling vehicles in the country, and the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for the last 40 years.

While Rivian has the distinction of being the first to bring its electric truck to market, Ford’s electrified F-series is expected to drive more customers to consider switching to EVs. And despite being introduced in 2019, the Tesla Cybertruck has been repeatedly delayed and now isn’t expected to go into production until 2023 at the earliest.

The EV truck war will be fierce, but Ford may have bought itself some breathing room thanks to the speed with which it got the F-150 Lightning to market. General Motors’ started delivering its premium Hummer EV truck to customers earlier this year, but at nearly three times the price of the F-150 Lightning, it really can’t be considered to be in the same category. The automaker’s Chevy Silverado EV will likely be much more affordable but isn’t expected to start production until 2023. Meanwhile, Stellantis hasn’t said when its electric Ram 1500 truck will debut.

But Ford will have some constraints of its own. The number of electric F-150s Ford planned on making in its first few years of production has been a bit of a shifting target. At first, the company was only targeting 40,000 vehicles annually, eventually telling suppliers it expected that capacity to rise to 80,000 by early 2023. Now, that number has risen to 150,000 trucks by mid-2023 — though it’s unclear how many will reach customers this year.

The company is using a “wave-by-wave reservation process” to inform customers when they can go online to spec out their Lightnings. Earlier this year, Ford stopped taking reservations after having collected 200,000 refundable $100 deposits for the Lightning since it debuted in May 2020. (Reservations are still closed as of the publication of this article.) The production target from Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is 160,000 units per year.

Schmidt told Bloomberg that he plans on using his F-150 Lightning to do truck stuff, like hauling wood and towing. How many more customers will get to do truck stuff with their F-150 Lightnings this year will be up to Ford.