Ford F-150 Lightning makes the cut for full EV tax credit in 2024

On December 1, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued guidance to limit Chinese battery parts in EVs eligible for electric vehicle tax credits. Those rules went into effect on January 1, and the changes impacted dozens of EVs previously eligible. In fact, 43 models qualified for the full $7,500 tax credit last year. Now, only 19 fit the bill. That includes two vehicles from Chevrolet (Bolt EV and EUV), Chrysler’s Pacifica plug-in hybrid (PHEV) minivan, an SUV and truck from Ford, two Jeep PHEV models, a Lincoln, Rivian’s SUV and truck, and three Teslas.

The rules “pretty much directly target China,” says Inside EVs. China has dominated the battery supply chain over the years, so some cars have fallen off the list. However, while the U.S. Treasury Department set the deadline for submitting qualifying documentation as December 18, InsideEVs notes that several car companies were still entering submissions at the end of the year; it’s possible that more vehicles will be added to the list in the near future.

How the EV tax credit works

Starting January 1, 2024, the rebate eligibility and the amount can be settled at the dealership at the time of sale instead of having to wait until tax refunds come through. You have to be buying it for your own use and not for resale, and your modified adjusted gross income can’t exceed $300,000 for married couples, $225,000 for heads of households, or $150,000 for all other filers. The vehicles themselves must have a battery capacity of at least seven kilowatt hours and have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 14,000 pounds. 

Find the full list of vehicles on the 2024 list here. Some of those on the list, including every Rivian, come with only half the full credit, or $3,750, while others get the whole amount. One of the remaining vehicles eligible for the full $7,500 tax credit is Ford’s F-150 Lightning, a full-size pickup based on its popular gas-powered F-150. That’s good news for Ford, which says it’s laying out $50 billion in electric vehicles globally through 2026.

So far, that’s paying off with the Lightning, and the company is cranking out trucks at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan. Here’s what the Lightning is doing well and why it’s been successful so far.

Building batteries and components in the U.S.

Unveiled in 2021 for the 2022 model year, Ford started production of the F-150 Lightning with dozens of refundable-deposit orders in the queue. Starting at $52,090 for a 2024 base model and ranging up to $100,090 for the Platinum Black Extended Range version, the Lightning is equipped with two electric motors making 580 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. 

Ford says the Lightning is capable of 230 miles per charge with the smaller 98.0-kilowatt hour battery and 320 miles with the larger 131.0-kWh pack; it can charge from 15 percent to 80 percent of battery capacity in 44 minutes. Standard-range Lightnings can tow up to 7,700 pounds and the extended-range trucks boast 10,000 pounds. 

The Ford F-150 Lightning’s “Mega Power Front Trunk” has 14.1 cubic feet of capacity. Credit: Ford

Inside, the 12- or 15.5-inch touchscreen is crisp and intuitive, and a plethora of options like massaging seats and an 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system are available. After driving the Platinum version for a week, I can say it’s a delightful experience. It’s still big and bulky, as trucks are, but the quiet powertrain and elegant interior is astonishing. 

Of the legacy all-American “Big Three” truckmakers based in Detroit, Michigan–Ram, GM, and Ford–only Ford meets the requirements for assembly and materials built in the U.S. or by allies. Washington calls outlier countries like China (including others like Russia, Iran, and North Korea) “foreign entities of concern” and the current administration has a plan to reverse what it says is a “decades-long trend of letting jobs and factories go overseas to China.”

Ingrid Malmgren, policy director at Plug In America, told CNBC that China has been a big supplier in the past. But in 2024, EVs whose battery components are built or assembled by these foreign entities don’t qualify for a tax credit. 

In February of last year, Ford committed $3.5 billion to build a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery plant in Marshall, Michigan. Production won’t begin in 2026, but the company is optimistic about the results. 

“LFP batteries are very durable and tolerate more frequent and faster charging while using fewer high-demand, high-cost materials,” Ford said in a press release. “This lower-cost battery, at scale, will help Ford contain or even further reduce EV prices for customers.”

Meanwhile, the Blue Oval is working with South Korean company SK Innovation, which builds F-150 Lightning batteries in Commerce, Georgia. That fits into the current administration’s goals to bolster the growth of domestic and “friend-sourced” battery materials processing and manufacturing. 

What’s next for electric trucks?

The future of the Lightning is sure to be competitive, as Ram Trucks has its all-electric 1500 Rev on the way and others like Scout are bringing new products to the market. While Rivian R1T trucks are only eligible for half of the full tax credit now, the American company committed to $5 billion in a plant outside of Atlanta, Georgia and it will be beefing up its infrastructure over the next few years. 

Rivian’s R1T is an attractive competitor to the Ford F-150 Lightning, with a max towing capacity of 11,000 pounds and an EPA-estimated range of 314 miles. The R1T also has two motors (one on each axle) offering 533 horsepower and 610 pound-feet torque or an upgrade to the performance model for 665 hp and 829 lb-ft; the top of the line is a four-motor setup (one for each wheel) upping those power numbers to 835 hp and 908. 

However, Rivian’s trucks start at about $20,000 more than the base Ford F-150 Lightning and different crowds seem to be attracted to them: the R1T is marketed to adventurers and off-roaders, while the F-150 Lightning is positioned as a truck suited for work and play. With rules always in flex, we’ll be watching to see how automakers adapt and how it shifts the domestic production as it goes forward.