Ford Motor Co. is boosting production of its SVT F-150 Lightning to go with the pickup's increased horsepower.

The automaker is raising by 50% the number of Lightnings scheduled to roll off the line of its Oakville, Ont. truck plant — from 2000's total of 4,996, to 7,500 this year. Ford insists the numbers won't jeopardize the “exclusivity” of the high-performance vehicle, a hallmark of its Special Vehicle Team (SVT) brand.

The production hike was, in part, a response to demand by Ford's 625 certified SVT dealers in North America.

These dealers are also offering a new perk: a complimentary wash and vacuum and a free loaner every time a customer's vehicle is serviced, excluding oil changes.

Ford is also helping to establish the SVT Owners Association (SVTOA). The volunteer organization will sponsor events on closed courses so owners “can experience their vehicles' performance capabilities in a safe, controlled environment.”

MSRP for the '01 Lightning, which boasts 380 hp at 4,750 rpm — an increase of 20 hp over last year's model — is $32,460.

This week, Ford also rolls out a concept with borrows the pickup's name. The Lightning Rod, which debuts at the Chicago auto show, is chopped and features a “tattoo” on its tonneau cover.