The fleet consists of just three units for now.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) has confirmed it is currently testing three examples of the Ford F-150 Lightning at three different parks throughout the US.
Per Outside Online, the USFS has officially begun transitioning its fleet of 17,000 vehicles from internal combustion to electrification. This is the result of an Executive Order signed by President Biden over a year ago directing federal agencies to start electrifying their vehicle fleets.
The F-150 Lightning falls under the light vehicle category, requiring new purchases to be zero-emissions starting in 2027. Other body styles in this category include sedans and vans. Medium and heavy-duty vehicles consist of buses, construction equipment, and fire trucks.
Agencies have until 2035 to get the latter vehicles electrified.
Currently, the USFS is testing the F-150 Lightning in three locations: Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, Huron-Manistee National Forest in Michigan, and the White Mountain National Forest on the border of New Hampshire and Maine.
The Lightnings are part of a pilot study, with results and resolutions expected to be implemented in the coming years. The agency is specifically interested in optimizing its Lightning fleet, deploying charging infrastructure, and gauging public opinion.
"The Forest Service is embarking on an exciting study of the first-ever use of electric vehicles in a natural resources field setting," said an agency spokesperson. "The research will determine the feasibility of electric vehicles in field-work settings, helping the agency determine the right tool for the job when it comes to electric fleet vehicles."
The White Mountains test will be fascinating and, hopefully, productive. This national park is famous for its often extreme weather and road conditions, critical factors for the F-150 Lightning to overcome. A large number of off-road and outdoor enthusiasts regularly visit, hence the importance of the agency's new mission. There's a lot to prove.
The spokesperson also acknowledged that the F-150 Lightning is currently the only EV truck available through the Government Services Administration, tasked with federal vehicle purchases.
The report also confirms the USFS is testing the base model Lightning, meaning a 230-mile range, four-wheel drive, and 2,000-pound payload capacity. Recharging will be done nightly at a fixed location, so no significant infrastructure investments are happening just yet.
The USFS presently has a total of 8,775 light trucks, and all will be replaced by EVs once their lifecycles end.