Ford's electric truck will arrive next year.
With great fanfare, and some confusion, Ford has formally announced the all-electric F-150 pickup. It beat all the legacy automakers to the punch with a battery-electric truck, and even had a name associated with the F-150 to pull out and dust off. In the 1990s, the Ford F-150 Lightning was a performance street truck, but now, 30 years or so later, it's a different kind of game changer.
It's also a balancing act for Ford, as it knows electric vehicles are the future, but F-150's central core of customers are typically suspicious of progress. They're going to need to be convinced. That means the electric F-150 needs all the traits of its piston-powered relatives and some genuinely useful features that show electric power. It also has to include the latest technology, which can be a genuine benefit for those who use their truck every day.
The Ford F-150 Lightning will come in four trim levels: A yet unnamed based trim, XLT, Lariat, and Platinum. All will have four-wheel-drive as standard, and two different battery packs will be available. The base model comes with 426 horsepower, 775 lb-ft of torque, and a range of 230 miles. And that's not a typo; the base model comes with 775 lb-ft of torque.
The extended battery model has 563 hp, the same impressive torque number, and a range of 300 miles. The Lightning also comes with an 80-amp charge station for home charging and will complete a full charge in eight hours. A 150-kWh DC fast charger will give the extended-range truck 54 miles of range in 10 minutes when away from home. That will charge the battery from 15 percent to 80 percent in just 40 minutes.
If you want a link back to the original Lightning trucks, 0-60 mph on the all-electric F-150 is somewhere in the four-second range, although we, and Joe Biden, thought it felt quicker than 4.5 seconds. The F-150 Lightning also handles well for a truck as the 1,800-pound battery is mounted in an exoskeleton in the floor for a low center of gravity. It also benefits on-road from having independent rear suspension.
While this will horrify the traditionalists, Ford has tested this truck to the same extremes as any other modern F-150. As a result, XLT and Lariat spec trucks with the extended-range battery and Max Trailer Tow Package optioned will pull 10,000 pounds of weight behind it or carry 2,000 pounds in the bed. While riding shotgun in the F-150 Lightning, we were also impressed with how it handles trails with the mix of ample power, low center of gravity, and independent suspension soaking up the bumps.
Ford believes its hands-free highway driving technology is ready for prime time. Along with the Mustang Mach-E, BlueCruise will be available on the F-150 Lightning when equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. The system uses advanced camera and radar-sensing technologies to build upon the Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering, and Speed Sign Recognition to create a hands-free driving system.
The caveat is that it can only be used on the 100,000 miles of North American roads that are "prequalified sections of divided highways called Hands-Free Blue Zones." The Level 2 driver-assist technology has been tested thoroughly, with 10 BlueCruise-equipped vehicles being sent out to cover 110,000 miles of road through 37 states and five Canadian provinces, and all the traffic and weather conditions that kind of journey entails.
The main duty for a truck is carrying a payload in the bed, and Ford hasn't forgotten that. The onboard scales use sensors in the bed to estimate payload, which is useful to make sure you're not overloading the truck. It will be helpful if you're being charged for materials, or charging for materials, by weight. Like any truck, weight cuts down on a range. However, Ford's Intelligent Range feature uses the payload information to give an accurate estimate on its impact, so you'll never get caught short.
Ford's Pro Trailer Hitch Assist is now available to make hitching a trailer completely frustration-free. It debuts with the F-150 Lightning and promises to "automatically control steering, throttle and brake inputs to make hitching trailers even easier." Software-heavy features can also be improved over time with "Ford Power-Up" software updates. Ford will send them over-the-air to update or upgrade systems and deliver new functions and abilities.
The usefulness of using a truck as a generator was highlighted earlier in the year when the power grid in Texas suffered a catastrophic failure. Ford's Powerboost onboard generator got a lot of press coverage that week. Just as applicable is Ford's Intelligent Backup Power system for its all-electric truck. It can supply up to 9.6 kilowatts of power to a home to keep things like lights and security systems working in an emergency. More typically, the system can be used to power tools and electric devices on worksites without their own electrical supply, or devices and appliances when out camping.
We should point out the words "mega power frunk" are Ford's, not ours. The headline description sounds silly, but the reality is that Ford is making the most of the fact that there's now usable space where a massive engine no longer needs to be. It has 14.1 cubic feet of volume and 400 pounds of payload, so you can easily fit a weekend's luggage, camping equipment, or two sets of golf clubs. The space is water-resistant and has four electrical outlets for 2.4 kilowatts of power and two USB chargers. It's also drainable so that it can be used as a container for food and drink.
Inside the F-150 Lightning, it's just as feature-packed, and everything is centered around Ford's new Sync 4A infotainment system. The latest evolution of the Sync system is housed in a 15.5-inch touchscreen and designed to adapt to the driver's behavior. An example is the navigation, which can predict a regular destination and work out the most convenient route based on traffic. Sync 4A also looks after the charging schedule of the truck and features a natural voice control system. To save plugging in a phone, there are also apps available, such as Waze, that can be used with voice commands or the steering wheel buttons. Also available is a customizable and animated 12-inch instrument cluster.
Ford Intelligent Power is a feature we'll see added later. When it appears, F-150 Lightning owners will be able to use the truck to power a house during the high-cost, peak-energy hours and then use lower-cost overnight rates to recharge the vehicle for the morning.
Ford is also working with the solar power company SunRun to make installing the 80-amp charging and home integration system easy. Ford also says that "through this collaboration, customers will also have the opportunity to install solar energy on their home, enabling them to power their household with clean, affordable energy and charge their F-150 Lightning with the power of the sun."