In the competitive American electric vehicle market, Ford’s new F-Series EV could give it a major edge over other automotive giants vying to topple Tesla.

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Data from Statista shows that the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) industry broke records in 2021, with 83% more light electric vehicle sales than in 2018, when demand surged for Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3. The Model 3 remains the best-selling EV in the U.S. market, which Tesla continues to dominate overall. But America’s big legacy carmakers, such as Ford, General Motors, Chevrolet and Chrysler, are gaining ground.

Ford scored a victory with the launch of its F-150 Lightning pickup truck on April 26. The new EV is an electric version of its wildly popular F-150, which has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for decades. More than 2,000 of the new EVs are already on their way to customers. Ford stopped taking orders for the Lightning when the waiting list for the vehicle reached 200,000 in December.

Along with brand recognition, the F-150 EV has the distinction of being “the only full-size electric pickup available now with a starting price less than $40,000”, according to a Ford news release. Executive Chairman Bill Ford sees it as a turning point in the U.S. automotive industry. “This is history in the making,” he said. “This truck is going to change everything.” President and CEO Jim Farley echoed the sentiment, saying, “America’s real transition to electric vehicles starts now.”

The electric F-150 is inarguably a major milestone for Ford. Farley and other executives describe it as the most important new model the company has released in decades. Ford’s ambition of capturing a larger share of the fast-growing market for electric vehicles hinges on the Lightning selling well, according to the New York Times. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is currently the third best-selling EV in America. Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 occupy the top two spots.

Although Ford is now the only legacy American automotive giant to break into the top three, Farley is not content. His sights are set on surpassing Tesla, and the company is investing accordingly. Ford invested $950 million to expand its Rouge manufacturing complex in Dearborn, Michigan, starting in 2020. This includes construction of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where the F-150 Lightning is produced. Further expansion is in the works as Ford ramps up production of the F-150.

“F-150 Lightning is just the beginning of our ambitions for growth and leadership in digital, electric vehicles” says Farley. “We continue to expand our EV manufacturing footprint across the U.S., including the start of site preparation at BlueOval City.” A $5.6 billion mega campus in Tennessee, BlueOval City is part of a planned $11.4 billion investment which Ford is making together with its partner, SK Innovation. This also includes a battery manufacturing plant in Kentucky.

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