No supercharged engine, but it'll smoke the tires just the same.
Battery-electric vehicle registrations reached a record share of the car market in 2020. What's a record share you ask? Ten percent? Twenty? It's a whopping 1.8 percent. That's a tiny number, and one that needs to grow considerably if we're going to meet greenhouse emissions targets and reduce our fossil fuel use. Ford has an answer in its 800,000-unit sales per year F-Series, and the new all-electric variant, the 2022 F-150 Lightning.
Ford revealed the new pickup today at its headquarters in Dearborn on a 64,000-square-foot projection screen, as well as online. The company is making a big deal about this, and it should. EVs so far have been, not niche, but definitely in the early adopter stage. If Ford can sell just 10 percent of its truck run with electric power, it would be on its way to catching the leaders from Tesla and elsewhere.
The Lightning name was used back in the early 90's on a high-performance version of the F-150 in the ninth-gen truck featuring a 240-horsepower, 5.8-liter V8. The curvier tenth-gen truck got the special trim too, featuring a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 360-380 hp. But this F-150 Lightning will blow the doors off all of them, and a few supercars too.
The top model will put down 563 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque from its dual motors, with a 300-mile range. The lesser will still deliver 426 hp and 775 lb-ft and have a range of 240 miles. All-wheel-drive is standard and though we can't tell you how it felt to ride in until tomorrow, you can imagine what it can do with that much power and a motor at each axle.
We won't keep you waiting on price. The cheapest F-150 Lightning, which will have a new trim name, will start at just $39,974 before tax credits. That means conceivably you could roll out of the dealership for about $32,750, plus destination, handling, and options. You can put down a $100 deposit now and expect to see the pickup in mid-2022. The mid-series XLT model starts at $52,974 and Ford says it'll top out around $90,000.
"This is America's best-selling vehicle and it was signed off the same way," said Darren Palmer, general manager of battery electric vehicles for Ford. "It's innovative, smart, and connected, and we targeted it toward real uses and real customers."
Real uses means towing, and the F-150 Lightning can pull 10,000 pounds, though we'd worry about range at that maximum. It can haul 2,000 pounds in the bed and another 400 pounds in the frunk. The new Lightning will have the biggest front storage on the market with 14.1 cubic feet of space, enough to hold two sets of golf clubs, or a job site's worth of tools, all protected from the elements. There's also a second, lower level with a divider that can be used to separate cargo, as well as a couple of LED lights so you can see in there.
Speaking of the job site, like the PowerBoost hybrid F-150, the Lightning can be used as a generator, to feed electricity to whatever you need. In total it can produce 9.6 kWh of power, 2.4 in the front and 7.2 in the back. That includes a selection of 110-volt, 240-volt and USB options. Ford plugged in some fans, lights, an air compressor and a few saws to prove that the system works. It said that the truck - though it didn't give any exact details - could drive to and from, and run a job site for three days, without recharging. The Lightning also has programs for range reserve when using juice out in the field, meaning you can set your reserve mileage to "home" and the generators will leave enough power to get you there.
With Ford Intelligent Backup Power, enabled by the available 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro, the Lightning can send electricity back to your house if you lose power. Once it's back on, the truck automatically reverts to charging its battery. Ford says it can power a house for three days, or as long as 10 "if it's rationed."
It comes standard with a charge station that will add an average range of 30 miles per charging hour, fully charging an extended-range truck from 15-100 percent in about eight hours, Ford says.
Another huge deal is the new frame with an exoskeleton to protect the batteries, as well as cradles for the motors. That means instead of using a solid rear axle, the Lightning has independent rear suspension. That should make the ride, loaded or unloaded, much more agreeable. Ford reiterated that it put this vehicle through all the same tests as the standard trucks. It has skid plates for protection and 24 inches of water-fording ability.
The body, as you can see from the pictures, is tighter than the current model, somehow sharper, but also smoother. The lightbars on the front and back are questionable to our eyes, but you will certainly see it coming in your rearview. All of it was done for the wind cheating, as were the wheels. Ford says the F-150 Lightning has a coefficient of drag lower than the traditional truck but wouldn't confirm exact figures.
It also has a super low center of gravity too, because of the 1,800 pounds of batteries in the floor, and the two motors at the axles. Ford wouldn't give us that exact spec either, but we expect it will handle like a lower, smaller vehicle. The Lightning will have a mode for one-pedal driving, where you can let off the accelerator and the truck will regenerate as much energy as it can until it stops.
Buyers will still get all of the cameras for hooking up a trailer and backing up, as well as the new meters to make sure your tongue weight and payload are right (the system uses LEDs to show you how close you are to the maximum). It also features Ford's "Phone As A Key" that allows customers to lock, unlock and start their truck without taking their phone out of their pocket or using a key fob. As is expected, over-the-air updates will change and improve the software over time.
Sync 4A will make it's debut here, in the Lariat and Platinum series. It has a 15.5-inch, portrait-style touchscreen with a giant knob in the middle for volume and other functions. A 12-inch digital instrument cluster keeps key info front and center.
Finally, Ford has certified about 2,300 of its 3,000 dealers to work on the truck, so there will be plenty of places to get it fixed.
Author Malcolm Gladwell published a book in 2000 called The Tipping Point. It was about how "ideas and products and behaviors spread like viruses." Not a great point considering the times we're in, but it focuses on the moment of critical mass when things go from a small idea to "everywhere." Adding an EV powertrain to the most popular vehicle in the world could certainly be considered one of those moments.