Ford F-150 Lightning revealed: an electrical truck for the lots

The preferred automobile in the USA goes electrical. Ford has revealed the F-150 Lightning, an all-electric model of its well-liked pickup truck due out in 2022, and it’s aggressively priced for an EV. The bottom mannequin with 230 miles of vary begins at $39,974, whereas the prolonged vary model begins within the mid-$50,000s and may go about 300 miles.

That places it proper on par, price-wise, with Tesla’s Cybertruck and much beneath extra luxury-minded choices like Rivian’s R1T or Common Motors’ exorbitant GMC Hummer pickup. And since Ford’s autos are nonetheless eligible for the total $7,500 federal tax credit score, that price ticket can primarily come down much more for early patrons. It’s particularly gorgeous, although, as a result of all variants of the F-150 Lightning are constructed with Ford’s four-door “SuperCrew” cab, the gasoline model of which begins at $36,650. The bottom mannequin Lightning is even barely cheaper than its comparable hybrid F-150 counterpart. Most electrical autos thus far have value greater than their gasoline counterparts, however Ford is the closest to bucking that pattern. Ford has already began taking reservations for $100.

Priced just like the Cybertruck in addition to Ford’s hybrid F-150

There are just a few sacrifices in that base mannequin except for vary, however nothing that appears terribly prohibitive. And whereas sticker value isn’t all the pieces in relation to electrical autos, it’s a massive barrier for a lot of patrons. The F-150 Lightning’s value goes up with added options and additional vary, however from what Ford revealed Wednesday evening, the corporate seems to be able to persuade a large swathe of shoppers to think about electrical after they go to purchase their subsequent F-150, with little regard to what value level they’re procuring at.

These keen to make the soar will discover a truck overflowing with utility options, together with a number of concepts that Ford has already supplied on the gas-powered mannequin (like a fold-out heart console work floor) and the hybrid model (just like the onboard charger). It has just a few distinctive methods which will make patrons who’re skittish about vary or value suppose twice, too. And all of it comes wrapped in an exterior design that’s virtually indistinguishable from its inside combustion counterparts, save for a brand new grille with a hanging steady mild bar. 

In reality, the F-150 Lightning is by far probably the most familiar-looking of the electrical pickups introduced thus far. And Ford is betting massive that this unchallenging boxy design — which Elon Musk poked enjoyable at through the Cybertruck announcement in 2019 — will repay. 

“There’s loads of house for everyone. What issues is we’re all true to ourselves,” Darren Palmer, the top of Ford’s EV division, advised The Verge in an interview. “I believe there’s sufficient to tempt individuals to have a look at [buying the electric version], and % already have been — we noticed that in our analysis. However I believe it’s going to tempt individuals who weren’t even wanting.” 

Or as Ford CEO Jim Farley mentioned on The Verge’s Decoder podcast, which comes out Thursday morning: “There are many flavors of soda, however there’s just one Coke, and there’ll be plenty of electrical pickup vehicles, [but] there’s just one F-150.”

Energy play

The F-150 Lightning is available in two battery configurations. The corporate says the usual vary battery ought to get round 230 miles of vary, whereas the prolonged vary battery needs to be good for 300 miles (although neither spec has been formally rated by the Environmental Safety Company but).

Both of these configurations needs to be good for many each day driving situations, although many individuals will need to do typical truck issues with the F-150 Lightning which might be naturally extra energy-intensive, like towing, hauling, or off-roading. To place these potential homeowners’ minds relaxed, Ford says the truck’s software program can present real-time vary estimates, one thing it’s already been engaged on within the Mustang Mach-E. This software program elements in not simply climate and visitors circumstances, but it surely additionally makes use of an onboard scale to measure the burden of any payload or towing weight.

Towing and hauling will sap some vary, however Ford’s betting on correct estimates to calm nerves

Ford introduced final month that it was bringing this onboard scale know-how to all F-150s, although it appears notably helpful for the Lightning — particularly since Ford hasn’t compromised a ton on towing or payload capability with its first critical electrical truck. (Hello, Ford Ranger EV.)

The prolonged vary Lightning is ready to tow as much as 10,000 kilos, which is greater than what most inexpensive gas-powered F-150s are able to, although it’s just a few thousand kilos shy of what the F-150 hybrid or the diesel model can tow. The usual vary F-150 Lightning, in the meantime, maxes out at 7,700 kilos.

However due to the burden distinction within the battery packs, the usual vary Lightning wins out on payload capability, as it might carry as much as 2,000 kilos versus the prolonged vary’s 1,800-pound max. Nonetheless, these figures fall roughly in the course of what you’ll find throughout the total vary of F-150s. (Bigger F-Collection vehicles, after all, can pull and haul extra — no phrase on when these may get electrified simply but.)

All variations of the F-150 Lightning will put their battery energy down through two electrical motors — one up entrance and one in again — which means each purchaser will get an all-wheel drive setup. The prolonged vary model sounds prefer it may simply knock the wind out of you, with 420kW of complete energy (563 horsepower) and 775 pound-feet of torque. That’s ok to make it the quickest F-150 ever made, with the power to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour within the mid-4 second vary. The usual vary Lightning isn’t a lot worse off, with 318kW of energy (426 horsepower) and the identical quantity of torque.

Charging remains to be a minefield

That each one sounds enjoyable (and likewise a little bit bit ludicrous for a giant truck), however all this energy is barely so good so long as you possibly can simply cost the electrical F-150 again up. Charging remains to be a sore spot for many EVs, and it’s what sapped a number of the enjoyable out of my time with the Mustang Mach-E. The reality is, except Ford invests in constructing out its personal devoted community, there’s solely a lot the corporate can do between now and when the Lightning hits the street to make the general public charging expertise higher.

Within the meantime, Ford’s band-aid resolution is that it has coalesced a handful of disparate unbiased public charging networks into what it calls the FordPass Charging Community. All of those chargers present up within the FordPass smartphone app as if they’re one massive community, and Ford is even working with some in order that homeowners don’t have to create new accounts or obtain different apps to start out charging. It’s an awesome thought in idea, but it surely wants extra work — hopefully progress may be made by the point the F-150 Lightning hits the street.

The quickest choice to recharge the F-150 Lightning is at a 150kW DC quick charging station. At considered one of these plugs, the F-150 Lightning with the prolonged vary battery can tackle about 54 miles of vary in 10 minutes and may cost from 15 % to 80 % in 41 minutes. The usual vary battery will take longer, although: it might tackle 41 miles of vary in 10 minutes at a 150kW charging station, and it takes 44 minutes to cost from 15 to 80 %.

At dwelling, a 120-volt outlet will trickle 3 miles per hour into the battery, whereas a 240-volt outlet can add round 14 miles per hour. The true standout charging characteristic is unique to the variations of the F-150 Lightning powered by the prolonged vary battery: Ford is together with a brand new 80-amp dwelling charging station that not solely totally costs the F-150 Lightning in eight hours however permits homeowners to simply energy their complete dwelling for round three days within the occasion of an electrical energy outage.

“Folks wish to be self-reliant”

The power to attract energy from the battery pack isn’t restricted to those excessive situations, although. The entire base trims of the F-150 Lightning can put out 2.4kW of onboard energy, and the costlier Lariat and Platinum trims provide a complete of 9.6kW of onboard energy. The costlier F-150 Lightnings even have 11 built-in energy sockets — seven within the cab and mattress, together with a 240V outlet, and 4 within the entrance trunk — plus a handful of USB ports. Ford started taking part in with this concept of turning a automobile right into a cellular generator of kinds with the F-150 hybrid, however the increased trims of the F-150 Lightning will provide even extra onboard energy, and so they gained’t use gasoline to generate it. That’s not solely an awesome characteristic for anybody who wants energy on the go, but it surely could possibly be an enormous profit for fleet operators or small companies trying to go inexperienced.

“We predict that is going to be actually well-liked,” Palmer says. “Folks wish to be self-reliant. And this makes you utterly self-reliant.”

Electrical utility, future tech

Talking of that entrance trunk, it’s enormous. Ford says it might match two units of golf golf equipment or a big suitcase and two carry-on-sized baggage. It has a complete quantity of 14.1 cubic toes (400 liters) and may carry as much as 400 kilos of stuff. Just like the entrance trunk on the Mustang Mach-E, it’s water-proof and has a drain for simple cleansing. Ford calls it — significantly — the Mega Energy Frunk.

The F-150 Lightning’s entrance trunk will not be solely massive, however the hood takes the truck’s grille with it when it opens, which means you gained’t have to achieve up and over to entry what’s inside. It’s a thoughtful contact from Ford, but it surely’s not terribly shocking contemplating the myriad utility options the corporate has constructed into current F-150s — a lot of which carry over to the Lightning.

Past the frunk and the retailers and onboard energy, there’s additionally the fold-out workstation within the heart console, which has sufficient house for a laptop computer, a pad of paper, or your lunch. For individuals who spend a lot of time of their vehicles — whereas charging, maybe — the 2 entrance seats can fold again just about completely flat. And for individuals who do a number of towing, the truck has Ford’s new sensible hitch help characteristic that may just about routinely hook a trailer up for you.

In reality, the Lightning shares a lot with different F-150s that it’s utilizing the identical cab and the identical dimension mattress, which means it ought to work with beforehand suitable equipment and add-ons like a slide-in camper.

One of many greatest variations is that it has a 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen within the costlier trims. It’s primarily the identical as what’s within the Mustang Mach-E, besides it doesn’t float over the dashboard. It’s embedded and surrounded by some bodily buttons and some retailers, which Ford says truck clients nonetheless depend on.

That display is operating Ford’s Sync 4A, which is the most recent model of the automaker’s  infotainment system that debuted within the Mustang Mach-E. It just about operates in a two-pane structure, with the highest half typically devoted to navigation or media controls and the underside half for local weather and different automobile features. But it surely additionally options wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in case you’d relatively simply work with the apps in your telephone, or Amazon Alexa in case you wish to set free the occasional lonely shout.

The motive force show is larger than the one on the Mustang Mach-E — 12 inches versus 10 inches — and can characteristic extra detailed details about vitality utilization. This complete system can even be updatable over the air, as Ford lately detailed how it’s embracing distant software program updates in a giant approach.

However if you would like that 15.5-inch display, it’s a must to pay for both the Lariat or Platinum trim. The bottom mannequin Lightning comes with a much less flashy landscape-oriented 12-inch capacitive touchscreen that runs the usual model of Sync 4. This model of the truck will nonetheless get over-the-air updates, works with CarPlay and Android Auto, and has onboard LTE hotspot functionality, so it’s not lacking a lot within the dashboard tech division. In reality, some patrons may want the less complicated setup.  

The upper trims of the brand new F-150 Lightning can even have Ford’s hands-free driver help system, which it calls BlueCruise, as an choice. BlueCruise is slated to launch on geared up 2021 F-150s and Mustang Mach-Es later this yr and permits for hands-free driving on greater than 100,000 miles of divided highways. Like GM’s Tremendous Cruise system, it makes use of an infrared digicam to trace the driving force’s eyes to ensure they’re taking note of the street and are able to retake management at any second. That’s characteristic to have on any automobile that gives superior driver help, however particularly considered one of this dimension.

Who’s shopping for?

Ford seems to have checked a number of containers with the F-150 Lightning, and you would most likely argue that it drew just a few additional containers and checked these, too. Vary might be a giant query, because it all the time is with new EVs. But it surely gained’t be the one query.

In reality, once I requested Cox Automotive government analyst Michelle Krebs in regards to the F-150 Lightning, her first intuition was to rattle off a bunch of questions that couldn’t presumably be answered Wednesday evening or actually till subsequent yr:

Is there a market? We predict there may be, as once we survey individuals, there may be some curiosity. However what number of of these persons are there? Are these conventional truck patrons who’re keen to go electrical, or are these individuals who perhaps haven’t bought a truck earlier than however are fascinated about a truck now that electrical is an choice? Who’re the patrons? We all know that EV patrons, usually, are youthful than the final car-buying public and way more prosperous – among the many most prosperous of automotive patrons. Who will these EV truck patrons buy from – a conventional truck maker, like Ford, with many years of experience in truck making, or an upstart like Tesla, Rivian, and so forth.? What is going to they use their EV vehicles for? Our research present full-size truck patrons have a tendency to make use of their vehicles for work; patrons of smaller vehicles use them extra for leisure and recreation.

These are all nice questions. We simply gained’t know the solutions till the F-150 Lightning really goes on sale in 2022, regardless of Ford lastly displaying off what the truck is able to. 

Nonetheless, it clearly has the potential to be a really massive deal. The Mustang Mach-E is already drawing a ton of latest clients into Ford, and that’s a much more polarizing automobile than what Ford unveiled Wednesday evening. Ford’s gas-guzzling F-Collection vehicles are already supremely well-liked. So if People are ever going to think about switching to electrical autos en masse, an electrical F-150 appears nearly as good a guess as every other choice — perhaps higher.

Both approach, the F-150 Lightning looks like an odd, virtually cosmic course correction, as Ford made mass-market combustion-engine vehicles doable approach again within the early twentieth century, and crushed the earliest efforts at electrical autos within the course of. Maybe now, with this new electrical truck, it might assist tip the stability within the different route.

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