Battery maker says the cause of a fire in Ford’s hot-selling F-150 Lightning is ‘rare’

Ford CEO Jim Farley with a Ford F-150 Lightning truck.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Ford Motor’s battery supplier says the defect that led to a fire in an electric F-150 Lightning and halted production earlier this month is not a fundamental flaw in the design of the power source.

SK On, the automotive battery unit of South Korea’s SK Innovation Co. Ltd, worked with Ford to identify the problem and is implementing a fix, the company said Monday in an emailed statement. The fire in a holding lot near the Lightning’s Dearborn, Michigan, factory spread to two other trucks on February 4 and has shut down the plant into a fourth week.

“We believe this was a rare occurrence, not a fundamental issue with the technology of the battery cells or our overall manufacturing systems,” SK said in the statement. “Working with Ford, SK On identified the root cause of the issue and implemented measures of improvement in our processes to address the issue.”

SK said it has resumed battery production at its factory in Georgia. SK and Ford are spending $11.4 billion to build three more battery plants and an electric F-Series assembly plant in Tennessee and Kentucky. Ford also announced this month that it is building a $3.5 billion battery plant in Michigan that will utilize technology from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd, the world’s largest EV battery maker.

The Lightning is Ford’s signature plug-in vehicle as the automaker moves to electrify its lineup by investing $50 billion to develop and build 2 million battery powered models a year by 2026. The Dearborn factory where it’s made had been running seven days a week as it aims to boost production to 150,000 vehicles a year by this fall.

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