‘Project T3’ will kick off Ford’s electric truck manufacturing in Tennessee.
Come 2025, the automaker will officially build its second-generation EV pickup, including its battery packs at the megacampus, just northeast of Memphis. In the process of launching this new model, Ford says it is launching a “talent development program” in preparation for the nearly 6,000 jobs it plans to bring to the plant.
While Friday’s announcement mainly just aimed to tease the project name, let’s go over what we’ve heard so far. Back at the F-150 Lightning’s initial launch in April 2022, Ford president and CEO Jim Farley said that truck, “is just the beginning of our ambitions for growth and leadership in digital, electric vehicles. We continue to expand our EV manufacturing footprint across the U.S., including the start of site preparation at BlueOval City (now under construction, as of March 2023), which will enable us to meet the ever-increasing demand for our exciting EV lineup.”
To that end, we’ve been expecting Ford to launch a next-generation model at this plant for the past year. While the current F-150 Lightning uses a variant of the gasoline F-150’s chassis, this new truck should bring a fully EV-dedicated platform to the table. Ford is currently working on two differently sized platforms: the ‘GE2’ platform, which is a smaller version evolved from the underpinnings of the current Mustang Mach-E; and the ‘TE1’ platform, which will launch the brand’s next-gen trucks, including the model rolling out of BlueOval City in the next couple years. The latter will also likely underpin the automaker’s larger two-row and three-row SUVs, like the North American version of a Ford Explorer EV.
At this point, Ford has obviously confirmed no further information.
Based on the current context and taking into account the current F-150 will be due for a significant update by 2025, it’s reasonable to assume ‘Project T3’ is the second-generation F-150 Lightning. That said, Ford could come out of left field with a completely different idea (perhaps a smaller, cheaper electric truck?).
For the moment, this new project is the only truck slated for production in West Tennessee. If Ford aims to ramp up annual production on a single model to half a million units, then the F-150 is really Ford’s only truck with the level of demand necessary to soak up all that capacity.
But then, I’m curious what Ford will do with its new facilities at the Rouge complex in Michigan, where it just built out its “Electric Vehicle Center” to build the first-gen Lightning. Will the company retool it to build another EV? We’ll have to wait and see what Ford has cooking for this new truck and the rest of its ‘Model e’ electric vehicle division in the coming months and years.