It’s been a long time coming, but Ford has finally pulled the covers off its new all-electric full-sized pick-up truck, the F-150 Lightning. The Blue Oval is pulling out all the stops with this one, promising to break new ground in terms of performance, technology and cargo hauling.
The Lightning is based on the latest 14th-generation F-150 introduced last year, featuring the same aluminium alloy body but with an upgraded frame that is claimed to utilise the strongest steel ever put in an F-150 frame. The latter houses the lithium-ion battery that juices the front and rear motors.
Speaking of which, the motors engender the Lightning with potent all-wheel-drive performance, with an estimated 563 hp and a whopping 1,051 Nm of torque – the most out of any F-150 ever built. All this makes for startlingly quick pick-up (pun fully intended here), with a zero-to-60 mph (97 km/h) time expected to be within the mid-four-second range with the extended-range battery.
Range, in case you were wondering, is targeted at 370 km as standard or 480 km with the larger battery, both estimates from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ford hasn’t released any battery capacity figures, but given that it expects the Lightning to power homes for up to three days with an average use of 30 kWh a day, the extended-range model should have at least 90 kWh.
The ability to power homes during an outage is called Intelligent Backup Power that automatically sends electricity back out through either of the two charging ports at a rate of 9.6 kW, enabled through an 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and a home management system. Users who ration power can get up to ten days of use depending on their home energy usage. A future Ford Intelligent Power function will also allow the truck to power homes during high-cost peak hours and be charged overnight at lower rates.
Battery power can be used in other ways – an enhanced Pro Power Onboard function lets you use power tools and household appliances directly through sockets in the front truck at a rate of 2.4 kW. Higher-end Lariat and Platinum variants also have plug points in the cab and bed with a total output of 7.2 kW.
Charging the extended-range model from 15 to 100% takes eight hours through the aforementioned 80-amp charger, which adds 48 km of range every hour. On the road, drivers can utilise DC fast charging at a rate of up to 150 kW, powering the Lightning from 15 to 80% in about 41 minutes and adding a targeted 87 km in just ten minutes. Ford says buyers will have access to the largest charging network in North America through the FordPass app, with more than 63,000 stations and counting in the US alone.
Setting the Lightning apart from other F-150 models are unique front and rear end designs that are even more angular, with futuristic upright head- and taillights and a closed-off grille available in three new designs. Available light bars join the head- and taillights, while the charging ports can be found on both front fenders with the F-150 emblem on the port doors. The grille, sculpted bonnet and reshaped running boards help make the Lightning the most aerodynamic F-150 ever, Ford says.
Inside, Lariat and Premium models get the latest Sync 4A infotainment system featuring the 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen from the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV – replete with the latter’s scroll wheel on the bottom. The system employs natural voice control, cloud-based navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Amazon Alexa integration, Sync AppLink apps and over-the-air software updates. On selected vehicles, users will also be able to use their phone as a key for the first time on an F-Series truck.
Also fitted is a 12-inch instrument display with a customisable interface and animations for hands-free highway driving (which we’ll come back to later) and regenerative braking. The Lightning continues to be available with the notable features introduced on the 2021 F-150, including exterior 360-degree Zone Lighting, a work surface on the tailgate and on the centre console and lie-flat Max Recline Seats.
As will soon be available on the regular F-150, the Lightning will be offered with Ford’s new BlueCruise system, an advanced Level 2 semi-autonomous driving function that allows hands-free driving on more than 160,000 km of pre-qualified highways in the US and Canada, with more to come. The system comes as part of the optional Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of active safety systems.
Load lugging is perhaps the most important aspect of a pick-up truck, and the Lightning doesn’t disappoint – it shares the same bed dimensions as the F-150 and has a maximum payload of 900 kg. An Onboard Scales functionality is optional and uses sensors to estimate payload; it’s also linked to the truck’s Intelligent Range system to estimate the cargo’s impact on range.
And if the bed is somehow not enough, the Mega Power Frunk opens up to reveal another 400 litres of washable storage space at the front with a targeted 180 kg of payload. Lariat and XLT models also have an estimated towing capacity of 4,500 kg with the larger battery and the Max Trailer Tow Package.
A work truck should also be able to go off-road, so the Lightning features four selectable drive modes (Normal, Sport, Off Road and Tow/Haul) for the AWD system. The battery is also secured within a waterproof casing and surrounded by crash-absorption protection, while metal skid plates shield both the battery and the motors.
The truck also features an F-150-first rear suspension setup that Ford says provides a more stable ride and less roll, without sacrificing durability and reliability. An advanced liquid cooling system and upgraded components ensure that heat distribution is managed across the vehicle, enabling the Lightning to handle even the toughest driving situations – such as towing trailers up and down steep includes.
Built at the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Centre in Dearborn, Michigan, the Lightning will go on sale in the US starting next spring, with prices being roughly equivalent to petrol/diesel F-150s and starting at US$39,974 (RM165,500) – crucially, before any federal or state tax credits. More creature comforts and tech will be offered in the mid-level XLT, which starts at US$52,974 (RM219,300).
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