Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning got off to a hot start last year, but recent sales trends look concerning in the face of new competition from Tesla’s Cybertruck.
According to data compiled on Lightning sales by quarter, volumes declined 46% year-over-year in Q3 2023. Ford attributed cancellations to transitioning from the 2023 to 2024 model year, but the downward trajectory is undeniable.
With Tesla poised to start Cybertruck deliveries soon, the pickup market is about to get even tougher for Ford. The Cybertruck seems uniquely positioned to appeal to lifestyle buyers, a key truck demographic.
Even non-trade buyers may switch from higher-volume models like the Honda CR-V once they realize the Cybertruck’s superiority for durability, technology and performance. Tesla’s huge pre-order backlog will make the Cybertruck inescapable.
However, falling Lightning sales could also reflect broader resistance to mainstream EV adoption as the market moves beyond early adopters. The Cybertruck will likely upend the pickup hierarchy regardless of competitors’ traction.
The F-150 Lightning appears to be a capable electric truck that could gain share under different circumstances, would be ideal to see sales growing steadily rather than declining sequentially.
One caveat is that opaque Lightning pricing could be distorting the picture. Significant dealer markups on F-150 EVs would explain lower volumes despite strong demand. More transparency around transaction figures is needed.
In any case, Tesla’s impending Cybertruck launch looks poised to dominate the electric pickup conversation in 2023-2024. Ford will have to redouble marketing efforts and production capacity for the Lightning to stay relevant in a segment the Cybertruck is custom-tailored to disrupt.