It’s hard to think of something more Earth-shaking for the auto industry than the introduction of the first electric Ford F-Series, the best-selling US passenger vehicle for the past several decades. But this is the moment we find ourselves at today. Ford has unveiled the zero-emissions F-150 Lightning, Dearborn’s first all-electric pickup and one of the first full-size pickups running on batteries to reach the US market, after Tesla, GMC, and Rivian. (It draws its name from the faster Lightning versions of the gas-powered F-150 from a few decades ago.)
The new F-150 Lightning looks like a slightly sleeker version of a normal full-size pickup, as opposed to some polygons that escaped from a 1989 DOS game. It only comes as a four-door SuperCrew with a 5.5-foot bed. It features a Lightning-specific light bar that connects the headlights together, and it’s an inch longer and 1.7 inches taller than the regular F-150 in dimensions, Car and Driver reports. In top trim, the F-150 Lightning can tow 10,000 pounds, carry 2,000 pounds, or drive 300 miles (EPA estimated range) before needing recharging. These numbers are somewhat off the gas-powered F-150, which can drive farther on a full tank of gas and tow 14,000 pounds, the latter in part because of its traditional live axle rear end. The Lightning moves to an independent rear suspension setup, which should improve the ride and handling considerably.
With dual inboard motors delivering 563 horsepower, 775 pound-feet of torque, and full-time four-wheel drive, the F-150 Lightning is a shot across the bow at Tesla and the greater auto industry and could well be the first electric pickup suitable for contractors and their heavy-duty work. It’ll also accelerate you and your mulch or new yard fencing from 0 to 60 in just four and a half seconds, or faster than any existing gas-powered F-150. Better make sure that stuff is secure in the bed first.
The base F-150 comes standard with a 12-inch instrument cluster and a 12-inch center-mounted screen; higher trim levels get a 15.5-inch center display (shown above). The truck includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa along with Ford Sync. An onboard digital scale tells you how much you’re carrying in the bed, and the F-150 Lightning will adjust its estimated range based on that payload. The truck also alerts you if you drop below one-third remaining battery range.
The F-150 Lightning offers a few other nifty tricks. For example, it can power your house. First introduced on the F-150 Hybrid and as an option on other F-150s, the F-150 Lightning’s Intelligent Backup Power system can offload up to 9,600 watts of power depending on trim level–enough to keep the fridge, AC or heat, alarm system, and lights in your house running during a power outage, something that’s happening with increasing frequency across the US thanks to our aging infrastructure. You’ll need Ford’s 80-amp Charge Station Pro and accompanying management system, but with that, the house system can switch over to the F-150 and automatically switch back once power is restored.
Ford estimates three days of normal full-home power and up to 10 days if you ration it out carefully. Obviously, this will depend heavily on exactly what you’re running in the house — do you also need to power the separate beer fridge in the garage? — but that’s no different from having a home generator.
Another interesting perk is the frunk, where you can store up to 400 pounds of gear and open and close the hood remotely. Inside the frunk are four electrical outlets for running power tools, two USB charging ports, and a drainable floor that you can load food and beverages into. I can’t wait to trick customers at the local Costco into thinking I’m loading paper towels and roast chickens into the engine bay.
Ford bundles access to 63,000 charging plugs across the US with FordPass, letting you juice up on a 150-kilowatt DC fast charger to add 54 miles of range in 10 minutes or charge from 15 to 80 percent in “about 41 minutes.” Still not as quick as a gas station, but roughly on par with the wait at an I-95 rest stop on a holiday weekend. The F-150 Lightning also supports over-the-air software updates and includes BlueCriuse for hands-free highway driving.
A “commercial-oriented” (read: work truck) F-150 Lightning starts at a surprisingly low $39,974 before destination charge or tax credits, with 2,000 pounds of towing capacity and 230 miles of EPA-estimated range. Most consumers will likely start with the $52,974 XLT, the same as with the regular F-150. Ford hasn’t released the rest of its pricing yet, but figure $60,000 to $70,000 for a well-equipped XLT or Lariat with the optional Extended Range pack. The top-notch Platinum trim with the larger 9.6-kilowatt powertrain and standard Extended Range pack will probably clock in closer to $90,000.
The F-150 Lightning, seemingly with few compromises compared with its gas-powered stablemates, is arriving in spring 2022 at 2,300 dealers across the country. You can get on the list with a $100 deposit. Your move, Elon.
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