While the electric car market has boomed in the last decade thanks to entrants like Tesla and Hyundai, bigger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks have been left in the fray, until now.
Thanks to the advancements in battery technology, a lot of manufacturers have unveiled electric pickup trucks, the most notable of which is the Tesla Cybertruck, capable of over 600 miles on a single charge.
But if any manufacturer can pull it off, it’s Ford. After a successful launch with their Mustang Mach-E SUV, Ford is now turning their focus to electric pick-up trucks with the new F-150 Lightning. And why not? After all, the Ford F-150 is America’s favorite pickup truck!
At the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, Ford announced their plans for a fully electric light pickup truck, and testing began on the older generation F-150 chassis. They also showed off the truck towing 1,250,000 pounds on rails. The Ford F-150 Lightning name was revealed later on 19 May 2020, as a homage to the original SVT Lightning from 2002, which was the fastest truck in the world during its launch.
Development for the new truck was also helped by Joe Biden, now President of the United States who spoke in favor of electric vehicles and of increased investment in charging infrastructure. He was also seen testing the prototype model at Ford’s Romeo Proving Ground, where he claimed a 0 to 60 MPH time of 4.4 seconds, beating the original SVT Lightning by more than a second.
With production slated for spring of 2022, Ford received over 44,500 orders in the first two days after the announcement, which increased to 100,000 by June 2021. Reservations now stand at 120,000 as of July 2021, a far cry compared to the Tesla Cybertruck which crossed half a million reservations. According to Ford, more than 75% of prospective buyers are new to the company. Like the Cybertruck, the F-150 Lightning is expected to start at $40,000 for the base work truck model and go all the way up to $90,000 for the range-topping luxury model. We can expect consumer-oriented models to start at $50,000.
While Ford still hasn’t revealed prices for the mid-range models like the XLT, Lariat, and Platinum, we can expect them to be a lot more expensive than their regular gasoline counterparts.
Because of the affordable pricing, the F-150 Lightning is expected to become a best-seller like its IC counterparts. The whole F-150 lineup received a complete facelift for 2021 with six powertrains to choose from, including a hybrid. The new Lightning model is based on the latest F-150 and is expected to get the same interior and exterior with an all-electric drivetrain. Like most EVs, Ford will also offer an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the electric components and more optional warranty packages
The Lightning will use a dual-motor setup, one on each axle for standard all-wheel-drive. Base models will get a standard-range battery which limits the power output to 426 hp, while the extended-range battery will bump it up to 563 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque.
Ford is also planning on releasing a removable range extender motor in the near future, which will be mounted on the bed. The motor will be used to recharge the batteries if they run low and there’s no charging station nearby.
Although the 2019 event showed the F-150 lightning towing more than 10,000 pounds, the production model is limited to just 7,700 pounds for the standard range battery and 10,000 pounds for the extended-range battery. Payload capacity stands at 2,000 pounds for the standard and 1,800 pounds for the extended-range model.
With the standard-range battery pack, Ford claims a range of 230 miles per charge, while the extender-range battery can travel up to 300 miles.
Like most EVs, the F-150 can be charged at home via 110 or 220-volt outlets, and using public DC fast-charging stations that can charge from 15 to 80 percent in just 44 minutes. The Lightning can also serve as a backup generator to provide up to three days of electricity for the average household in an emergency.
From the outside, the F-150 Lightning gets a unique full-width light bar at the front and rear, along with a lightning badge to distinguish it from the regular models. The Lightning is also heavier than the regular models, tipping the scales at 6,500 pounds because of the heavy under-floor battery weighing 1,800 pounds. Because of the electric drivetrain, the Lightning also gets a front trunk with plenty of space inside along with an emergency button to open it from the inside.
The interiors are also shared with the regular F-150 with some upgrades. Like the recently unveiled Mach-E SUV, the Lightning will also get a large vertical infotainment system in the middle which controls most of the functions instead of physical switchgear. The 12-inch central display is expected to come with Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system as standard. Higher trims will get a bigger 15-inch display. All expected features like Android Auto, Apple Carplay, navigation, satellite radio, Wi-Fi hotspot, and more will be available as standard.
The range-topping Platinum model is expected to get a premium 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, while the Lariat trim gets a downgraded 8-speaker system.
Other notable changes include a font trunk and some unique design elements. Initially, the F-150 Lightning will only be available in a Crew Cab configuration with four doors and a 5.5-footbed. However, the standard model with 2 doors and super-cab model with rear half-doors are still on the cards and will be launched at a later date.
Unlike the regular F-150, the Lightning models will get a host of driver assistance features as standard. Ford’s new BlueCruise semi-autonomous driving system will also be available as an option. Because of the updated platform and different construction, safety ratings cannot be compared with the regular models, and the government testing agencies haven’t tested the F-150 Lightning yet.
Ford is also planning to build a lot more electric vehicles based on the same platform which will share the same battery, motors, and other components. With production starting soon, we can expect Ford to begin shipments of the new F-150 Lightning by Spring of 2022.
Images: Ford Motor Company.