Why The 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Heat Pumps Are A Big Deal

The entire 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning lineup will come standard with a heat pump system, a highly desired electric vehicle feature that will likely improve cold weather efficiency.

A growing number of EVs today come with heat pumps, so it was a surprising omission when Ford announced the F-150 Lightning wouldn’t have such a system. That was especially true, since the Lightning isn’t a budget EV, and certainly has the physical space to incorporate such a system. EVs with heat pumps include the whole Tesla lineup, the BMW i4 and iX, Hyundai’s Ioniq cars and their Kia and Genesis cousins, and now Ford’s electric pickup. 

The 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash

We learned of this news after Ford announced the new Flash trim for the F-150 Lightning, which is positioned between XLT and Lariat. In the list of features provided in the press release, a standard heat pump was cited, prompting us to reach out to Ford for comment.

To our surprise, we were told all F-150 Lightning, from the $97,995 Platinum Black down to the $49,995 standard range Lightning Pro would come standard with a heat pump in 2024. 

Unlike internal combustion vehicles that use engine waste heat to warm the passengers, EVs need an actual heating system, which is usually a simple resistive heater or a heat pump system.

An electric vehicle heat pump draws external air and compresses it. It then uses the heat generated in the condenser to increase the temperature in the passenger cabin and the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. Heat pump systems are typically about three times more efficient than the resistive heaters used in electric vehicles.

Therefore, heating the passengers and the battery in cold weather uses three times less energy, and that energy can be used for other purposes—like propelling the vehicle. 

A recent real-world test by Autocar demonstrated that EVs with a heat pump system had an average winter range loss of about 25% compared to their WLTP-estimated range, while those without a heat pump lost an average of around 34%. That’s not an insignificant difference, and can in some instances, make the difference in making your destination or coming up short.

Is it worth trading in your older F-150 Lightning for the ’24 model to get a heat pump? Not really, we think; if you’re not pushing the limit of your range frequently, it may not be worthy of an entire upgrade. But it is a huge benefit to the Lightning moving forward, and a decent reason to wait for a ’24 if you’ve been thinking of pulling the trigger. 

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