Loving the Lightning – From Gas to Electric

Jun 12, 2023
matt shulte and motor trend trophy Click to Enlarge

“At various points in my career, Ford has put me in roles that challenged me and utilized my abilities. I’m a guy who likes working with my hands and I'm not shy of doing an honest day’s work. Now working on the Lightning program, I'm once again using my vast skill set and feeling like I'm making a difference,” said Matthew Shulte, customer acceptance line inspector at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.

The all-electric Ford F-150® Lightning® started shipping to customers in May 2022 – but it wasn’t the first Ford Lightning that Schulte worked on.

1993 F-150 Lightning Click to Enlarge

Now, he’s even more enamored with the all-electric Lightning, which has collected awards like the 2023 North American Truck of the Year and Motortrend Truck of the Year.

“The old Lightning was a regular cab two-wheel drive, and while it was fast and sporty with its lowered stance, the current Lightning raises the bar beyond belief. This is the plan of the future – and Ford is speeding up and becoming even more nimble,” Schulte said.

2022 F-150 Lightning Click to Enlarge

Schulte said that he’s stayed with Ford because of the strong pay and benefits.

“I have asthma, so the healthcare benefits are a lifesaver. I also used the Education Tuition Assistance plan – I’ve just about finished my bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan Dearborn, where I transferred to after starting at the Henry Ford Community College. Friends and family really enjoy the vehicle discounts with the AXZ plan, too.”

Schulte moved to the Dearborn Truck Plant Body Shop in April 2007. The facility, historically known as The Rouge River Complex, was one the largest integrated factories in the world in the early 1900s.

Today, the Rouge Complex continues to evolve to meet the needs of modern manufacturing. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center was announced in November 2020 to manufacture the next chapter in Ford’s truck history. The all-electric F-150 Lightning picked up the SVT Lightning’s legacy of high performance  – and took it even further by going all electric.

Matthew joined the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center team in January 2022.

REVC Click to Enlarge

“I’ve been a car guy my whole life,” said Schulte “I grew up in Dearborn, did an auto shop class in high school. I remember hearing about electric vehicles back then – but it seemed like a distant future. But to see something like this come to fruition is exciting. And I feel like it’s about time! I’m sure Ford and others will step up and expand the opportunities for electric vehicle customers beyond our wildest dreams. I really look forward to our upcoming product offerings and the technological advances that can help push the range and reduce charge time – a sticking point for some consumers.”

Schulte said he’s impressed at the amount of resources Ford is investing to ensure the smooth and quality-committed launch of the F-150 Lightning. He’s also excited about Ford’s announcement to increase the production of the Ford F-150 Lightning to meet customer demand.

This fall, Ford is ramping up Lightning production to an annual run rate of 150,000. The REVC will have about 1,800 employees assembling the electric truck on three crews.*

matt shulte and frankie muniz Click to Enlarge

“I am so proud to be a part of this. I would never have imagined in a million years how awesome this is, from the lightning-quick vehicles we are assembling, to the non-stop stream of press and celebrities coming through the plant,” said Schulte.

Some notable facility guests include President Joe Biden, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer, Ford Performance NASCAR drivers Austin Cindric, Joey Logano and Frankie Muniz, and even TV personality Jimmy Fallon.

* Assembled with domestic and foreign parts.

jim farley and jimmy fallon Click to Enlarge

matt shulte and jimmy fallon Click to Enlarge