Heat Death

  • January 21, 2024

Lightning has struck out.

The trade publication Automotive News reports that Ford is eliminating two out of three production crews formerly tasked with assembling the battery powered version of the F-150 pick-up.

Italics to highlight that Ford is not temporarily reducing production of the Lightning. Some 1,400 workers are to be offered early retirement or transferred to another plant, where they will be put to work on something else.

Because the Lightning’s not working.

Of course, it is also not selling. Ford dealers don’t want them on their lots for that reason – and have said so, very publicly.

But why are they not selling?

Mainly, because people aren’t (yet) forced to buy them. It’s a dynamic similar to that which formerly obtained with regard to what’s marketed as “health insurance,” which of course is no such thing because it is impossible to insure one’s health. The best you can do is do your best to be healthy, a different thing. If you are successful, you can probably avoid needing medical care, which is really what we’re talking about when we talk about “health insurance.”

Anyhow, when healthy people weren’t forced to buy “health insurance,” many didn’t – because why would they? It’s not a rational decision to spend a lot of money on something of little (or no) value to you, as “health insurance” generally is to healthy young people especially. It is much more rational to be healthy – and save the money. That way, you have money for medical care – if you ever need it.

And if you don’t, you still have the money.

Obama – and John Roberts – took away the freedom to choose and now “health insurance” does “sell” because almost everyone is forced to buy it.

Neat how that works, eh?

Until people are forced to buy battery powered devices, they won’t sell, either – and that puts automakers like Ford (like all of them, even Tesla) in a pinch because the truth about these battery powered devices is becoming impossible to suppress any longer. Precisely – ironically – because these devices were pushed so hard, so fast. Too many of them were bought by people who had no idea what they were buying into. They read about the silent drive; about the explosive acceleration. About how they could charge at home and “save money” – never mind paying 30-50 percent more for the device.

They were made to feel good about doing what they were told (and some even believed) was “good for the environment.”

Buying an EV was – initially – a lot like wearing a “mask” in this latter respect. Many people did it because they believed it was necessary and virtuous to do it. They were egged on in this belief by a concatenation of propaganda assuring them it was both necessary and virtuous. EVs had the additional lure of being lightning quick and exclusive, by dint of their cost.

People bought them for essentially the same reason people who can afford to buy big, fancy homes. It’s both a reward for them and a way to put distance between themselves and the rest of us.

And then they found out their devices don’t go the distance. Especially in the cold. The recent climate changes have been a wonderful reality check. It is hard to make excuses for your device when you’re threatened with freezing to death in the thing because you can’t run the heater or because the battery pack’s heater is drawing charge faster than the not-so-fast charger can recharge the battery.

There are still of course die-hard apologists – those who will sit and shiver without complaint. They are psychologically the same species as those who continue to get their “booster” shots – and continue to get sick. The correlation escapes them. They want to believe – and so they do.

But there are only so many who can afford to.

And not only in the monetary sense.

The Lightning is, ostensibly, a truck. It is certainly shaped like one. People – understandably – assumed it is a truck. But it isn’t, really. It is a device that looks like a truck. The distinction is important.

The Lightning, while quick, is not capable of doing the things most people who buy a truck expect a truck to be able to do. Yes, it can power tools at a job site. But it won’t go far from the job site, after powering tools all day. Yes, it can pull a tremendous weight. But not very far, rendering what it can pull for a short distance as relevant (and costly) as a commercial airplane that can’t fly very far before it has to land and make its passengers wait.

Ironically, the truck layout was thought to be the ideal one for battery-powered devices, because there is so much room for the battery pack that stores the energy that powers these devices. The problem – or rather, the catch – is that a battery pack for a device the size of a truck must be even larger (and heavier) than the battery pack that powers car/crossover-shaped devices. Weight takes more power to move it – and what you end up with is a very powerful, very heavy device that runs out of power very quickly.

And that’s why Ford is eliminating – not temporarily idling – two out of three production crews who had been putting together these devices.

Expect this eliminating to spread as more become aware of what it really means to live with a battery powered device.

Especially when it’s cold outside.

At which point we can expect the government to do exactly what it has already done with regard to “health insurance.”

Then maybe the Lightning and its kind will “sell.”

. . .

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