Ford F-150 Lightning Makes Easy Work Of Towing Heavy Loads In Extreme Weather

Electric Vehicles / 11 Comments

The Blue Oval subjected its battery-powered pickup to a series of laborious challenges.

When it comes to performance, electric trucks beat their ICE-powered compatriots hands down. Just ask the Ram 1500 TRX that was shown a clean pair of heels by the Rivian R1T. But when it comes to towing, the battery-powered equivalent falls short, unable to tow as stress-free as a gas-powered pickup. With those concerns in the mind of many consumers, Ford has placed some tough challenges ahead of the F-150 Lightning, to prove its worth in the toughest of conditions.

Ladened with SAE-graded trailers tipping the scales at 10,000 lbs, a bevy of electrified F-150s tackled the same challenge as the aforementioned Rivian; scaling the arduous Ike Gauntlet. The 8-mile stretch has a challenging 7% incline that reaches an incredible 11,158-ft above sea level. This challenge is tough for any pickup, but more so for an EV. To make it even more difficult, the trucks faced freezing temperatures of -2°F.

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With snow pummelling down, the already grueling stretch of road was now caked in two inches of snow. "We're out here testing just to make sure that the trucks are just perfect before we go into production," said Linda Zhang, chief engineer of the F-150 Lightning. "Our customers [need] to know they have the peace of mind that this truck can get them through any kind of weather."

The fleet of Lightning F-150s make light work of the test, sailing up the Ike Gauntlet with ease. Interestingly, Ford makes no mention of the impact this had on range. According to the Blue Oval, the SR (short range) models will travel an EPA-estimated 230 miles on a single charge, while the ER (extended range) derivatives gain a more useful 320 miles of range. In these harsh conditions, the range would have most certainly been reduced.

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However, it's not just cold and wintery conditions Ford has to test for. The fleet of electric trucks also faced extremely hot conditions, with engineers exposing them to the steep inclines surrounding Davis Dam. Preproduction units were exposed to temperatures of up to 118°F, towing the 10,000-lb trailers across the dam multiple times. In just 11.4 miles, the elevation rises from 550 feet to 3,500 feet.

Ford has a reputation for building tough trucks and wants to show that the switch to electric power won't change anything. Previously, the battery-powered F-150s tackled the frozen and demanding conditions of Alaska, where they also performed flawlessly. While impressive, we wouldn't be surprised if consumers who tow regularly and travel long distances wait for battery technology to improve.

The claimed range is great, but as we know from previous tests, towing reduces travel range down to unrealistic figures. Still, with F-150 Lightning demand extremely high, we doubt many consumers will care.

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