Ford's fleet customers send mixed signals on electric vehicles -exec


FILE PHOTO: A Ford all-electric F-150 Lightning truck prototype is seen at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. September 16, 2021 REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co sees a robust market for electric trucks and vans by 2030, but it is facing some early pushback from commercial customers that are a key audience for the automaker's new F-150 Lightning and E-Transit, a top executive said on Thursday.

The Lightning pickup and E-Transit van "are targeted at real people doing real work," said Ted Cannis, chief executive of Ford Pro, at the Reuters Events Automotive Summit.

But some of those potential fleet buyers are taking a "wait and see" attitude, partly from a lack of experience with electric vehicles and partly from a lack of clarity on government policy and regulations around EVs.

Those are not insurmountable obstacles over the longer term, according to Cannis, who told Reuters:

“In the U.S., we see 70% of the full-size bus and van industry going electric by 2030. That’s more than 300,000 vehicles annually. And we expect a third of the full-size pickup (market) to go all-electric by 2030, which is more than 800,000 vehicles annually.”

With electric work trucks and vans, Cannis said, fleet customers can save money on fuel, maintenance and repairs, "but there is still a fear of the unknown" about EVs among both employees and managers.

He said Ford is upbeat, however, about the reaction from potential buyers who have driven the Lightning and "think it's the most exciting F-150 ever." With 150,000 reservations from both fleet and retail customers, "we have so much demand, I'm not sure how we can supply" enough vehicles.

In August, Ford doubled its production target for the Lightning because of strong early demand for the truck ahead of its 2022 launch. Ford is targeting annual production of more than 80,000 vehicles in 2024, up from its prior target of more than 40,000, sources told Reuters.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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