Usually, when old-school carmakers go electric, they’ll either start a new sub-brand or electrify one of their unexciting mass-market models. Ford did it a bit differently, starting their EV journey by making a sports SUV named after their iconic fuel-guzzling sports GT – the Mustang Mach-e. Next, they introduced an all-electric version of the iconic Ford Transit van. Now, they’ve electrified their best-selling model in history and possibly the best-selling large vehicle to date — the F-150 pickup truck. The coolest part? It’s called the F-150 Lightning.
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to Ford’s electric pickup so here are some of the key details:
No quirky designs. Looks futuristic yet familiar.
While most of the upcoming electric pickups we’ve seen tend to feature outlandish designs or quirky details, Ford’s approach has been reassuringly mild. The Lightning looks a lot like the normal F-150 but with modern details, especially at the front.
There have been tweaks to the body to make it more aerodynamically efficient (necessary for EV range), including a reshaped bonnet. As seen with all EVs, there’s no need for conventional grilles and vents at the front and the electric F-150 has replaced its massive grille with textured panels, offered in three patterns. The LED lightbar connecting the LED daytime running lights looks dope too and the taillamps get a similar treatment. So, it looks quite modern but is still instantly recognisable as a Ford F-Series pickup truck.
Thunderous levels of silent performance
The new F-150 Lightning has a dual-motor setup for a combined estimated output of 563hp (420kW) and 1051Nm of tarmac-twisting torque. Ford expects it can do the 0-96kph sprint in the mid-4 second range, making it the fastest accelerating F-150 to date. While the performance figures for the latest F-150 Raptor are yet to be revealed, EVs always have the acceleration advantage thanks to the instantaneous torque delivery from the electric motors.
483km of highway driving range expected
Ford has not specified the battery details of the F-150 Lightning but it has shared its best-estimated range (as per EPA regulations). The standard battery-pack variant promises 370km while the extended-range (which also gets the more advanced EV tech) claims up to 483km from a single charge. It’s not impressive considering what Teslas can offer, but there’s no direct rival for comparison yet.
4×4 is standard. Built tough.
With one electric motor on each axle, the F-150 Lightning has a 4×4 drivetrain as standard. Of course it does! It’s a Ford pickup truck! This one hasn’t gotten any fragile treatment either, being put through the same rigorous testing as the regular F-150. That includes stress testing in adverse terrain, with and without some cargo in tow. Its all-new frame uses the strongest steel ever for an F-150 and has a military-grade aluminium alloy body.
To ensure maximum protection for the batteries, the package is housed in a mechanically isolated metal exo-structure with additional impact absorption structures and skid plates. Ford also worked on the battery cooling systems to ensure it can handle the kind of stress the pickup truck is expected to be put through.
Still a workhorse and will haul up to 4,500kg
These are important figures for any pickup truck as most buyers/owners will be using it as their work vehicle. We know it’s built tough, but how much can it haul? Well, the total payload capacity of the F-150 Lightning is rated at a little over 900kg. That includes the cargo bay and the boot. In terms of towing capacity, it can haul up to 4.5 tonnes. That’s where the 1,051Nm of torque will come in handy to get things moving.
There’s a massive boot…in the front
In order to use a pickup’s bay to full potential and without a locking lid, you usually lose out on a conventional boot. Well, there’s no engine under the bonnet of the F-150 Lightning and the motors are quite compact so Ford decided to repurpose it as a boot. It has a luggage capacity of 400 litres (more than most hatchbacks) and a load capacity of 181kg so you can keep heavy items as well. The bumper-high design makes it easy to access for most people and various uses. You and a mate could even use it as a sitting deck to chill out on.
Ford calls it the mega power frunk and it is indeed, “powered”. It can be remotely opened and closed. There are four electrical outlets and two USB chargers that offer up to 2.4kW of power supply which is enough to plug in a power tool, TVs, speakers etc.
Adequately fast charging
When the latest EVs from Germany and Korea are being announced with rapid fast charging capabilities of up to 350kW, Ford has stuck with something more accessible: 150kW DC fast charging. It’ll charge the extended-range model (which has dual onboard chargers not offered on standard range models) from 15 to 80 per cent in 41 minutes, adding 87km of range in 10 minutes. Using Ford’s 80amp Pro Charge system (wall box charger) installed at the buyer’s home, the long-range model can charge from 15 to full in 8 hours while the standard range model’s system will take 10 hours for the same.
Ford F-150 Lightning owners can access the public charging network in the USA and Canada, using the FordPass services to connect and pay.
Will work as an energy source on wheels
The F-150 is a workhorse for the people of various vocations. But the Lightning will do a lot more than carry your work tools, it’ll power them too. Like most new EVs, it can deploy energy from the battery for electronics too (via a feature called Power Pro which may not be offered as standard). The Lightning can deliver up to 9.6kW of power via its numerous power outlets including the ones in the cabin, the cargo bay and even those in the frunk. From powering power tools to lighting up the campsite, the F-150 Lightning is the only generator you’ll need.
It’s a clever system so you won’t end up with a flat battery (unless you’re especially silly. The vehicle will give you a warning when power levels fall to 1/3rd of its total range and you can choose if you want to keep using it as a power bank or not.
It’ll even power your house during an outage
That generator function? Yeah, it’ll work for your house too. All you need to do is get the Ford Intelligent Backup Power feature for your home. This way, if there’s a power outage due to a storm or something, plug in your charged-up F-150 Lightning to the wall-mounted Pro Charge system and it will offboard up to 9.6kW of electric juice to power your home. When the mains come back on, the pickup will revert to charging mode and replenish its batteries. Ford reckons the fully charged extended-range battery could offer enough electricity to power a house (basic lights and appliances) for up to 3 days.
Large central screen with an integrated physical dial
The F-150 Lightning gets the same 15.5-inch vertically oriented touchscreen display as the Mustang Mach-e. It is bang in the middle of the dashboard and in something as big as the F-150, it almost looks proportionate. Unlike some other vertical central screens, this one still has a tactile element and it is positioned near the bottom: a rotary dial for the volume control. There are long-term questions about this dial staying in its place but it does add a bit of a quirky vibe to the dashboard.
It also has a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster with specialised graphics for the F-150 Lightning, different from the ones on the regular pickup.
Gets Ford’s latest tech and hands-free driving*
It features the latest iteration of Ford’s infotainment system (SYNC 4A) with wireless connectivity and connected services for over-the-air updates and various vehicle telematics. The updates for Ford EVs will go beyond just infotainment updates as the carmaker plans to roll out updates that improve the vehicle’s performance (such as range and performance) and can add digital features as well.
Advanced driver assists with autonomous driving capabilities are a must for any modern EV. The F-150 Lightning can be equipped with the Co-Pilot 360 suite which includes BlueCruise for hands-free driving on permissible highways in the US and Canada and stop-go traffic. There is a camera in the cabin to ensure that the driver is still looking at the road ahead while using BlueCruise.
Uses clever range estimating systems
Range estimation is a pretty basic feature that has been offered on combustion engine vehicles as well. However, the accuracy of this data is a lot more important in the case of an electric vehicle to plan out charging stops. The F-150 Lightning has a very clever system that takes into account the various factors that can affect the electric pickup’s real-world range such as weather, traffic (according to GPS data) and the weight of the payload/towing load as well. The last one is possible thanks to a weighing scale in the truck’s payload that displays the total weight of the items in the back. This range system is actively updating the figure displayed to the driver.
In the future, Ford will update this system to factor in changes in terrain and elevation on your selected route based on GPS data.
Better driving dynamics on-road than the standard truck
The classic EV layout that positions the battery under the floor and between the axles lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity. This results in better stability, even in something as tall as an F-150, and improved driving dynamics.
The Lighting is also the first of the F-Series to feature independent rear suspension instead of the usual solid rear axle. While this setup is common on most premium mass-market models, it’s rare for body-on-frame vehicles that are meant for rugged use in rough terrains. However, as we stated earlier, the F-150 Lightning has been put through the same toughness tests as its dino-juice-drinking siblings. It also has better rigidity as it uses an upgraded frame with the strongest steel ever seen on an F-150. Overall, it should be just as capable as a regular F-150 and even better to drive on tarmac.
Broad price range with affordable entry: a people’s electric pickup truck
The F-150 is the working person’s pickup. It’s the one used by individuals and fleet operators alike, often customising them to suit various vocations. So, the Lightning has to be somewhat affordable too and Ford has given it a starting price of just under US$ 40,000. That’s less than US$ 4,000 more than the standard F-150 Supercab (a proper five-seater cabin). If it is specced with the full bells and whistles, extended range, pro charger systems, fancy driver-assist tech and so on, the F-150 Lightning could hit the US$ 90,000 mark.
It’ll be interesting to see if Ford does a hardcore Raptor version of the F-150 Lightning at some point. Over 1,000 Nm of torque with rally-type suspension? Sounds awesome!
Not the first Ford F-150 to be called the Lightning
While the badge Lightning sounds perfect for the all-electric version of any car, there was already an F-150 known as the Lightning. To give its full name, it was called the SVT Lightning. It was the performance version of the F-150 that debuted in 1993 with a 5.8-litre V8 producing 240hp and 461Nm paired to an automatic transmission. There was a second-gen SVT Lightning that also starred in the first-ever Fast and Furious movie and was driven by none other than Brian O’Connor. In stock form, that truck got the same engine as before but got a performance boost thanks to an Eaton supercharger and churned out 380hp and 610Nm. That was in the early 2000s and two decades on, the new F-150 Lightning carries on the spirit of the SVT F-150 in terms of exciting performance.
What do you think of the Ford F-150 Lightning? Would you have it over a standard F-150? Or would you prefer a more distinctive electric pickup truck like the Tesla Cybertruck? What all electronics and toys would you take on your weekend camping adventure with the F-150 Lightning? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.