Ford has launched its most risky and aggressive salvo into electrification with the unveiling of its Ford F150 Lightning.
Top Ford executives hosted a glitzy launch in Dearborn, Michigan on May 19 and showcased the electric version of the best-selling vehicle in North America.
This a huge bet for Ford, as the F150 was responsible for about $42 billion in revenue in 2019, according to The Verge. The company sold 900,000 F-series truck sales in the US, according to a Boston Consulting Group study commissioned by Ford.
It’s also changing a product that is beloved by Americans (and many Canadians) who depend on the traditional reliability and power of a gas or diesel engine to get work done, including farmers.
The launch focused on the mainstream, but also the practicality of the electric truck for worksite and farm users.
Linda Zhang, Ford’s chief engineer for the F150, says the truck will pull 10,000 lbs. That puts it in the mid-range compared to its current F150 lineup and under the 14,000 lbs promised to be pulled by the Tesla Cybertruck.
Lightning, which looks almost identical to current F150s, will have the largest horsepower of any F150 at almost 600. That gives it the power to make it to 60 miles per hour in between four and five seconds, which is the fastest of any Ford truck, including the Raptor. It will put out 770-foot pounds of torque.
Electric vehicles are essentially giant batteries on wheels and the F150 Lightning takes advantage of that fact with 21 charge points and 11 outlets available around the truck. There will be one 240 volt outlet in the bed of the truck. That gives flexibility around a job site and the ability to take power easily to a field. This was demonstrated in a video at the launch which showed a truck powering an irrigation system in a field.
Ford is also pitching the truck as backup power for your house, providing full power for three days during an outage and longer if power is rationed. The company’s Ford Charge Station Pro is needed to transfer power to a home. It can be set up to automatically switch to backup power from the truck if the power is out.
Battery range will be critical for an electric vehicle that tows heavy loads and the truck is equipped with a system that recalibrates range estimates based on load.
The truck will have an estimated range of about 480 km, when the extended battery is used, which beats the Cybertruck which comes in at about 420 km of range.
The truck is designed to be used off road, said Zhang, with standard four-wheel drive, a water-proof case around the battery and skid plates protect the motors driving the wheels and the battery.
To create even more storage, the front trunk, which the company calls the frunk, has 400 litres of storage space and the ability to carry 400 lbs of payload in the front.
The company is pricing the trucks to be competitive with its gas offerings, with a starting price of US$52,974 for its XLT model. The Ford Canada site lists starting price at CA$68,000. Commercial trucks will be competitive, said Jim Farley, Ford’s president and CEO at about US$40,000.
Ford has been able to get truck buyers to change before, including the move to an aluminum body and the use of EcoBoost engines, which are smaller and turbocharged, so maybe the move to electric power – if the truck looks and feels the same and performs even better than a fuel version – will not be as big of a change as some think it will be.
The F150 Lightning is expected to be available in spring 2022, but can be reserved now.