Ford's first Lightning customer is a symbol of an EV's future
Pick-up truck's recipient is a techie — and also from a farming family
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
The pickup truck is of vital importance to the U.S. auto industry. With the catalog of most American-branded cars being slimmed (and now mostly being made abroad), the backbone — and big profits — of the Big Three is in pickups and SUVs.
And so Ford Motor Co. (F) — whose F-150 has been America’s best-selling vehicle for 40 years running and pulls in about $40 billion in revenue annually — made a wise move by being the first major automaker to deliver an EV pickup to a customer when, just before the Memorial Day weekend, it presented its first F-150 Lightning to a shopper in rural Michigan.
Not that the recipient of the silver-colored model, Nicholas Schmidt, works in agriculture. Instead, he is the chief technology officer of a grid optimization startup and owns a Tesla Model 3. But he is also the son of farmers and a truck owner, and told Bloomberg that the Lightning will replace the gas-powered F-150 that’s been in his driveway. Meanwhile, he also had a deposit down on a Tesla (TSLA) Cybertruck and considered a Rivian (RIVN) R1T (which beat the Lightning with its launch late last year but has been plagued by supply chain problems that have prevented a full rollout).
“When I bought the Tesla a few years ago, my family was real apprehensive,” Schmidt, 38, said. “So, when there were pickup trucks coming out that were going to be EVs, I said, ‘Whichever one comes first, I’ll buy it.’”
That was fortunate for his wife, Alicia, who is not keen on the Cybertruck’s looks. “I just prefer the classic pickup look of the [Lightning], and I didn’t want the attention of driving the distinctive cyber truck around my tiny rural Michigan town,” she said on Twitter.
Nicholas, meanwhile, also took to Twitter to announce that he has canceled his reservation for the upcoming Elon Musk creation.