A day after a spirited mid-May drive by electric-vehicle (EV) proponent President Joe Biden, Ford revealed technical and market-focused details for the coming all-electric version of the F-150 pickup truck. Officially named F-150 Lightning, recalling the name of a 1990s and 2000s performance variant of the conventional F-150, Ford said the battery-electric model will “start arriving” in mid-2022 at a starting price of $39,974 for the “commercial-oriented” entry model.
The figure is certain to be judged as aggressive, given Ford’s only currently available EV, the 2021 Mustang Mach-E, starts at $42,895. The mid-trim F-150 Lightning XLT starts at $52,974—and Ford did concede that customers can pay up to $90,000 for a top-trim variant of the Lightning.
Kumar Galhotra, Ford president, Americas and International Markets Group, stressed that Ford is “unique in that we are able to offer affordable EVs through scale, efficiencies and manufacturing know-how. But this is not simply about putting an electric powertrain into a vehicle. It’s about unlocking technologies and features that our customers didn’t even know they needed.”
Ford said the F-150 Lightning will be built at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan, a new, 500,000 sq.-ft. addition to the historic Rouge manufacturing complex. Linda Zhang, chief program engineer for the F-150 Lightning, said the $700-million facility will not have a single conveyor system, instead using automated, guided carriers to move the built-up vehicle to various assembly stations.
Jason Turnbull, F-150 Lightning marketing manager, said years’ worth of research with customers indicated they wanted an electric pickup that is “distinct, but not different” in styling, so the Lightning’s visual differences compared to the conventional F-150 are comparatively modest. Ford said the F-150 Lightning’s three distinct grille designs help to make it the most aerodynamic F-150 ever built. But apart from the truck’s distinctive LED headlight signature, many would find it difficult to distinguish from its current, conventionally-powered counterpart.
Borrowing what works
A likely significant factor in keeping a lid on pricing is that the F-150 Lightning borrows the SuperCrew cab from the conventional F-150, Zhang said. That extends to much of the interior bill of materials, she added. The 5-seat SuperCrew cab is paired with just one bed-length, the 5.5-ft. (1676-mm) “standard” bed.
The F-150 Lightning’s wheelbase is 145.5 in. (3696 mm) and overall length is 232.7 in. (5911 mm), matching the conventional F-150 SuperCrew/standard bed in wheelbase and just one inch longer in overall length. Zhang said the F-150 Lightning also retains the all-aluminum bodywork of the internal-combustion F-150, an expedient choice that also helps to mitigate the added weight of the F-150 Lightning’s batteries. In neither supplied specifications or a media briefing did Ford provide a curb weight for the F-150 Lightning, but in a separate media session, Zhang said the Lightning weighs some 1,000 lb. (454 kg) more than its IC-engine counterpart, a mid-range 4X4 configuration of which weighs approximately 4838 lb. (2194 kg); so the F-150 Lightning can be expected to weight upwards of three tons.
The extra weight, Zhang confirmed, assured that one significant component not borrowed from the conventional F-150 is its frame. The F-150 Lightning’s high-strength steel frame is “a new, ground-up design, up-gauged significantly” to handle the electric pickup’s additional weight and to help assure the F-150 Lightning passes the same durability regimen “every other F-Series truck endures.”
In with the new
The F-150 Lightning’s specific frame is related to another of its most-significant chassis changes: an independent rear suspension (IRS), the first for any Ford pickup, Zhang said. It comprises aluminum control arms and coil-over dampers. With the new IRS and the double-wishbone front suspension, ground clearance is 8.9 in. (226 mm), compared to 9.4 in. (239 mm) for the conventional SuperCrew 4X4 F-150. With the IRS, the Lightning’s maximum payload is 2000 lbs. (907 kg).
All F-150 Lightning models will be 4-wheel drive, imparted by a Ford-developed traction motor at each axle (drive for each axle always is active, Zhang said). For Lightnings equipped with the standard battery pack – Ford declined to provide battery-pack energy capacities – the two traction motors combine for 426 hp and 775 lb-ft (1051 Nm). Stepping up to the extended-range battery means total motor output climbs to 563 hp, with the same 775 lb-ft. The standard battery delivers max towing capacity of 7700 lb. (3493 kg) and the extended-range battery provides power to tow up to 10,000 lb. (4536 kg) with the required Max Trailer Tow Package.
Ford said maximum driving range for the standard-range battery pack is 230 miles (370 km) based on EPA testing procedures, while the extended-range battery pack can achieve a maximum of 300 miles (483 km). The extended-battery configuration is expected to yield 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) acceleration in the mid-4-second range. Ford’s battery supplier is SK International, Zhang said.
There is an extensive matrix of recharging options. An included Ford Mobile Charger cord for 110-volt power brings a full charge to the standard battery in 14 hours, the company claims, and 19 hours for the extended-range pack. At the Level 2 charging tier, a 240-volt/36-amp Ford Connected Charge Station can charge the standard battery from 15% capacity to 100% in 10 hours and 14 hours for the extended battery.
But a second Level 2 charger, called Ford Charge Station Pro and working at 80 amps, charges the standard battery in the same 10 hours, but reduces extended-batter charging time to eight hours instead of 14 hours. The Pro charge station also offers another compelling feature: it is the central piece in the F-150 Lightning’s bi-directional charging capability Ford dubs Intelligent Backup Power. With this setup, the F-150 Lightning can supply as much as 9.6 kW of power back to the home in the event of residential power failure. The capability for bi-directional charging was envisioned when the SAE International standard for the widely-used Combined Charging System (CCS) charging-cord connector was developed; Ford added that certain other modifications to the home electrical system are required to enable Intelligent Backup Power. A fully charged pickup could supply a typical home’s daily usage of about 30 kWh for up to three days.
At public DC fast-charging stations supplying 150 kW, the F-150 Lightning will charge from 15% to 80% in 44 minutes for the standard battery and 41 minutes for the extended battery.
The Lightning also can supply up to 2.4 kW of power to four 110-volt electrical outlets and two USB chargers in its 400-liter (14 cu.ft.) front trunk where the IC engine normally would reside. Up to 400 lb. (181 kg) of baggage or equipment also can be stored in the “frunk.” A similar powering arrangement is in the cargo bed, where an upgraded version of Ford’s Pro Power Onboard (introduced for the F-150 hybrid) supplies 2.4 kW of power for base trims, while frunk, cabin and cargo-bed outlets can deliver a combined 9.6 kW for higher-trim models.