For years, the electric vehicle (EV) pickup truck industry has been quiet. Sure, we’ve heard a peep from a Tesla Cybertruck here. A whisper from a Rivian truck there. But nothing from a legacy automaker with decades of truck production under its belt.
That is, until Ford dropped an absolute bomb with the F-150 Lightning, which also comes in Platinum, Lariat, and XLT. The new all-electric models will be available starting in spring of 2022.
The F-150 Lightning builds upon Ford’s F-Series line, which has been the best-selling truck in the United States for 44 years. The F-150 Lightning is targeting a range of 300 miles (483 km), 563 horsepower, and 775 lb.-ft. (1051 nm) of torque, which would give it the highest torque of any F-150 ever. For comparison, even the highest rated 2020 F-150 engine, the 5-liter V8, had just 400 lb.-ft. (542 nm) of torque at 4500 rpm.
The EV Advantage
The F-150 Lightning will be able to achieve maxim torque at 0 rpm, known as instant torque. EVs don’t use traditional gearboxes, and don’t have to go through the energy-losing combustion process of transferring power from the engine, to the transmission, to the driveshaft, to the wheels. EVs can go from 0 to 60 mph without switching gears. And although they can’t achieve the top speeds that combustion engines can, they essentially have faster acceleration.
Plenty Of Muscle
Despite the advantages of torque, the main fear with EV trucks was that they wouldn’t be able to handle the same payloads and towing capacities of their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts. Not so much with the Ford Lightning. Ford equipped The Lightning with a new frame that uses the strongest steel ever put in an F-150. The Lightning is able to support a maximum payload of 2000 lb. (907 kg) and up to 10,000 lb. (4536 kg) of towing capacity. These specs are comparable to the 2020 F-150, which offered around 1600 to 2300 lb. (726 to 1043 kg) of payload (or higher with custom heavy-duty payload packages) and 7500 to 12,000 lb. (3402 to 5443 kg) of towing capacity.
“The F-150 Lightning is a massive moment for our Ford team,” said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley. “America’s Number 1 auto brand is going zero emissions with America’s favorite vehicle. It’s quicker than a Raptor, with standard 4 x 4 and independent rear suspension; a power frunk, enough juice to run your house for three days or power an awesome tailgate; and it will forever improve with over-the-air updates. It will be built at the Rouge factory, where Henry Ford changed the world and my grandfather punched in every day. F-150 Lightning represents all that our country can do when we push for progress.”
With a starting price of US$39,974 for the commercial-oriented entry model and US$52,974 for the mid-series XLT model, the Ford Lightning isn’t cheap. However, the vehicle should qualify for the maximum federal tax credit of US$7500. The EV tax credit is geared toward helping automakers sell qualified plug-in vehicles. Once an automaker passes 200,000 in EV sales, they no longer qualify for the credit. Today, Tesla and GM are not able to use the credit since both automakers have exceed the 200,000 mark. “We’re not here to make an electric truck for the few,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s President of the Americas and International Markets Group. “Ford is committed to building one that solves real problems for real people. F-150 Lightning delivers everything we’ve said electric vehicles can offer, plus the capability expected from a Built Ford Tough truck — not just near instant torque but powerful towing and hauling customers can depend on.”
The F-150 Lightning Lariat and Platinum Series’ will debut the new SYNC 4A, an interface supported by a 15.5-in. (39-cm) touch screen that’s designed to adapt to the driver’s behavior. SYNC 4A uses natural voice control and grants wireless access to apps and services like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, integrated Amazon Alexa, and SYNC AppLink apps. Ford also implemented what it calls a 12-in. (30-cm) instrument cluster, which displaces key information like vehicle performance, regenerative braking, and power statistics. “It really is the smartest F-150 we’ve ever made,” said Darren Palmer, general manager of Battery Electric Vehicles at Ford. “F-150 Lightning offers an immersive touch screen, giving our customers all the information they want in an instant, real-time view of where they’re going, what they’re hauling, or how much real-world range they’ve got banked. And with Ford Power-Up software updates, the experience is only going to get better.”
Can It Really Power A Home?
One of the most widely publicized features of the F-150 Lightning is Ford Intelligent Backup Power. The system is enabled by the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and has the ability to offload 9.6 kW of power. Ford claims the extended-range battery option would able to power a home for three days, or as high as 10 days if power is rationed.
Ford assumes the average home uses 30 kWh of energy use per day, or 10.96 MWh per year. According to data by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American home uses 10.65 MWh of energy per year. So, if anything, Ford is assuming above average energy usage. “Whether sheltering during a storm or trying to stay safe in a heat wave, customers can now use their truck to give themselves power when they need it most,” said Ryan O’Gorman, electric vehicle manager of Strategic Partnerships at Ford.
“F-150 Lightning is built for seamless transitions between charging your vehicle and powering your house when needed. Ford is the first in the United States to offer this capability on an electric truck.”
In future models, Ford plans to release what it calls Ford Intelligent Power, which should allow the truck to power homes during higher cost peaking power times while taking advantage of lower cost nighttime rates. Ford also said that it is collaborating with Sunrun, a leading residential solar system provider, to help install the Ford Charge Station Pro system, as well as install a home solar energy system.