Ford is reducing output of its electric F-150 Lightning

New York (AFP) - US auto giant Ford said Friday that it is reducing production of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup, as it anticipates weaker demand for electric vehicles this year.

The automaker plans to cut production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to one shift from April 1, impacting about 1,400 workers, with some to transfer to other roles and others expected to take retirement packages.

“Ford expects continued growth in global EV sales in 2024, though less than anticipated,” the company said in a statement.

It is lowering production as it aims “to achieve the optimal balance of production, sales growth and profitability.”

Sales of the F-150 Lightning jumped 55 percent in 2023, with further growth forecast this year, according to Ford.

But the company earlier lowered the listed price by almost $10,000 for entry-level models.

With expectations for slower EV growth in the coming years, the auto industry has been pulling back from earlier targets.

US consumers remain cautious about the vehicles, partly due to costs, as well as concerns about recharging on longer trips, with the slow pace of programs to expand national recharging facilities.

On Friday, the White house announced $325 million in new investments this week, in part to help repair and replace EV chargers across the United States.

Automotive research firm Edmunds predicts that the share of electric vehicles in the United States will represent eight percent of sales in 2024, up from 6.9 percent in 2023.

On Friday, Ford also announced that it would add nearly 900 new jobs as part of a third crew at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, to boost production of its gasoline-powered Bronco sport-utility vehicles and Ranger pickups.

In midday trading Friday, Ford shares were up by around 0.6 percent.