Ford’s new electric F-150 has a motor at each end that provides all-wheel drive. It has a claimed range of 515 kilometers, and delivers up to 580 horsepower and 775 lb-ft. of torque, plus it can tow up to 10,000 lb-ft. Prices start under $70,000 (much lower for fleet customers).
In short, the F-150 Lightning is a slam dunk. So much so that Ford has temporarily closed the order book while it works on 200,000 reservations it has received. The car manufacturer has already doubled its pre-planned annual production to 150,000 cars in 2023.
However, is Ford missing an opportunity to maximize the potential to save the planet from electrifying a gas-guzzling car that is also the best-selling car in Canada (56 years and still growing)? How about offering Lightning a single-motor, front-wheel drive for those who don’t haul or carry more than a few hundred pounds of topsoil once a year? Besides the money saved by omitting the rear engine, Ford could cut even more cost by returning to the ICE F-150’s simple leaf-spring suspension (the actual Lightning has independent rear suspension).
However, Lightning as it stands promises to be relatively affordable in the context of what people are already paying for their pickups. Ford says Canadians are more likely than Americans to purchase highly-equipped F-150s. Lightning starts at $68,000 for the XLT, which is the lowest price available to the general public. The fleet-only work truck version, called the Pro, starts at $58,000.
The other trims are Lariat ($80,000) and Platinum ($110,000), all of which are five-foot-six-inch crew cabins. A massive 131kWh battery will be standard on the Platinum model and a $13,380 option on lower trims, which gets a 98kWh unit, good for a range of 370km.
If you must have a big pickup, the Lightning makes a good electric car. It is comfortable, capable, easy to handle, quiet and very fast. It is also a mobile power source on wheels. Each Lightning has eight 120V power outlets, four of which are in the box. The 9.6-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard option adds two additional 120-volt outlets in addition to a 240-volt outlet. Lightning can jump-start another EV charging or, with the necessary home charging system and home integration system installed in the home, Lightning can provide backup power in the event of a power outage.
Our introduction to Lightning included an afternoon of mixed driving between downtown San Antonio and Texas Hill Country. After 177 kilometers, my Pro Extended Range’s expected initial range of 515 kilometers at 99 percent charged was reduced to 312 kilometers at 64 percent, for an inductive range of about 490 kilometers. It was without load, but with the air conditioner running full time. The flight offered a power range of 2.3 miles per kilowatt-hour (27 kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometres), slightly better than the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s combined miles of 2.1.
In metric terms, Lightning’s combined EPA figure translates to 30 kWh per 100 km, or 3.4 equivalent liters per 100 km. Those numbers are nearly identical to those of the Rivian R1T, the only EV pickup truck currently available. For perspective, the most efficient small electric cars are in the 15-20 range.
Day two provided an opportunity to tow 5,000 pounds of a loaded Airstream trailer over 25 kilometers of slow country road, resulting in an energy consumption of 1.5 miles per kWh (41 kWh per 100 km). Repetition of the path in a Platnium-free piece (which is marginally considered the “thirstier” lightning according to the EPA) returned 2.5 miles per kWh (25 kWh per 100 km). This fits with what Vehicle Engineering Director Dapo Adewusi told me, that the effect of drag on the energy consumption of an electric vehicle is about the same as for an ICE.
Even if it’s not loaded, the Lightning is a heavy truck at about 6,500 pounds, so it’s still an energy hog. It takes its energy from the water system rather than from oil wells. At least, in Canada, most of our hydro power is clean or renewable, but there are still a lot of energy-consuming electric vehicles that can increase the risk of overburdening the electricity generation capacity of electric vehicles. In this respect, it doesn’t help, according to Ford, that a large percentage of initial bookings come from people who haven’t previously owned a pickup.
Ford began shipping Lightnings this month. Chevrolet’s competitor, the Silverado EV, is still about a year away, while the R1T from startup Rivian, due this summer, is smaller and has a higher starting price.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
- price: $58,000 (fleet only) to $110,000
- Engine/Battery: Double permanent magnet, 452 hp / 98 kWh (net); Permanent Double Magnet 580 HP / 131 kWh (Net)
- Transmission/Drive: Single speed / four-wheel drive
- Power consumption (liters equivalent per 100 km): 3.0 city / 3.7 highway
- DC charging voltage/range: 150 kW / 370 or 515 km
- Minimum time to recharge 15-80%: 44 or 41 minutes
The frame is brand new, but the body itself looks very familiar apart from some of the lighting elements and the blank grille. Note the charging port directly in front of the driver’s door.
If you can ignore the rubber floor, even the Pro doesn’t feel austere, with a 12-inch horizontal center display and digital gauge cluster, plus physical dual-zone climate and audio controls. These functions move on the screen with a 15.5-inch vertical screen in Lariat and Platinum versions. Power-adjustable pedals and an eight-way power seat are standard on XLT models and up, but even without them, the Pro proved hospitable. The back seat room is like a limousine.
Ford claims acceleration to 60 mph (96 kilometers) in five seconds with the base battery and four seconds in the middle with the top off. The allegations appear to be completely credible. Acceleration is the ultimate force either from rest (which causes the wheels to slip easily) or being trampled on while traveling at 100 km/h for fast passing on the highway. The balanced weight distribution and low center of gravity can make the Lightning a capable partner to dance on winding roads, even bumpy roads, although it can feel heavy through tight turns. The one-pedal driving mode has only one setting, but it can be easily adapted. As for towing a 5,000-pound trailer, that was so easy that you could easily forget he was there.
Even the Pro has 4G LTE WiFi and a useful suite of Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The XLT adds SiriusXM and more ADAS, while Lariat upgrades infotainment to the SYNC 4A (including enhanced voice recognition, connected navigation, Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto) as well as adaptive cruise with stop-and-go and lane-centering. Platinum adds Active Park Assist and BlueCruise – essentially, autonomous driving on appropriate roads.
You get the same five-foot-six-inch trunk as the ICE SuperCrews, with a gross payload of 2,235 pounds including the contents of the 14.1-cubic-foot trunk (roughly the same size as a regular trunk). A Class 4 trailer hitch is standard, and a maximum towing rating ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds depending on the model, battery size, and whether an extreme trailer tow package is installed. The available Trailer Technology Package includes on-board scales and features that make towing easier for the driver.
An electric pickup truck with a range of 500 km without a load will not meet all needs, but Lightning promises to satisfy many desires. Driving it is a feel-good experience. However, how much that planet is useful will depend on the compounds that lightning replaces.
The writer was a guest on the automaker. The content is not subject to approval.
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