Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up

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Huge frunk, enormous range and a sprint in the middle of four seconds

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-f-150

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Ford Development Center in Dearborn and the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center to see the F-150 Lightning up close. The highlight, however, was an F-150 ride with Darren Palmer, the driver, who is responsible for all of Ford’s electric cars.

We did a few laps of the Ford test track in Dearborn, and Palmer wasn’t squeamish when it came to showcasing the F-150’s 563 horsepower and torque – the highest torque of any production F-150 to date.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures of the drive because we were on the secret test site, which also had unannounced Ford vehicles. In addition, the F-150 Lightning that we drove was an early test prototype, which was not yet manufactured according to the production status.

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-electric

Ford F-150 Lightning with ‘Mega Power Frunk’ next to a fossil F-150

Drive: feeling of acceleration like Model 3 Long Range

The F-150 Lightning I was riding in had the Extended Range Battery Pack, making it not only the version with the greatest range, but also the most powerful version. Ford will offer two batteries in the F-150 Lightning:

  • Standard Range Pack with an EPA range of 230 miles (370 km)
  • Extended Range Pack with an EPA range of 300 miles (483 km)

The storage capacities are not yet known, but we estimate the gross capacity to be 125 kWh (thereof 115 kWh net) or 170 kWh (thereof 155 kWh usable).

All versions have two electric motors and all-wheel drive. In addition, they always have the same torque of 1051 Newton meters. The standard range version will have 318 kW, the top version 420 kW.

According to Ford, the sprint time (0-60 mph) of the extended range version should be in the middle of four seconds. For me as a passenger, the car felt at least as fast. The acceleration seemed comparable to that of my Tesla Model 3 Long Range from 2021 (which is stated as 4.2 seconds).

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-ford

Range: up to 760 kilometers?

The EPA range of 300 miles (EPA) is said to include 1,000 lbs (about 450 kg) of cargo, site reported, citing Marques Brownlee. An empty F-150 Lightning would have to have a significantly longer range. The range indicator was removed from the driver’s display on the test car, but when I scrolled through the menus on the 15.5-inch touchscreen, I found a remaining range of 472 miles (760 km) with a fully charged battery. This confirms the information provided by Brownlee on the vehicle he tested.

I don’t expect the F-150 Lightning to come anywhere near the EPA range specification of 472 miles, but I’m starting to think Brownlee may be right and Ford is setting the range too low.

With the Mustang Mach-E, Ford has already acted like this: The range was intentionally set too low and the EPA was asked to publish range information that was below the test results. For example, the Mustang Mach-E AWD Extended Range has an EPA range of 270 miles, even though EPA tests showed 276 miles. Sure, that’s only a two percent difference, but it shows that Ford tries to provide a range that does not arouse excessive customer expectations.

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-ford

Range display based on the integrated scale

With the F-150 Lightning, the real range could deviate particularly strongly from the official information, since the electric pick-up often used to transport heavy loads (up to a ton) and to pull trailers (up to 4.5 tons). Maybe Ford wants to be particularly careful here and deliberately lower the EPA range by 10 to 15 percent.

Palmer refused to give any information. But he explained that Ford uses the vehicle-integrated scale to display the range, which estimates the current payload (passengers and cargo), as well as the integrated trailer configurator, which allows the type of trailer (I think up to four different trailers) to save in the system.

According to Palmer, an accuracy of ± 5 percent is sought for the range display, taking into account the load, trailer, the topography of the route and other driving conditions. He emphasized that Ford wants to ensure confidence in the displayed range.

Charging with up to 150 kW

I had the opportunity to test the new Charge Station Pro from Ford, a Level 2 charging station with 80 amps and a CCS-1 connector. The CCS-1 connector is not required to charge the F-150 Lightning; it is used when the Lightning is delivering power with Ford‘s Intelligent Backup Power. The Charge Station Pro is standard in the extended range version, but not in the standard range version.

If you want to use the optional Intelligent Backup System, you need the Charge Station Pro as well as an inverter and a switch, which can be purchased separately. All of this has to be installed by the solar power provider Sunrun, Ford’s partner for the installation. Sunrun will also offer the installation of a suitable photovoltaic system for the house roof.

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-lightning

In the graphic above, Ford has indicated the charging times for different charging capacities. On this basis, colleague Mark Kane estimated the battery capacity and also calculated how quickly the range is recharged.

Charging from 15 to 100 percent with 150 kW direct current (15 to 80 percent SOC) takes 44 minutes for the standard range version. This means that it can recharge 41 miles (66 km) in 10 minutes. With the extended range variant, the process takes only 41 minutes. This calculates that electricity can be recharged for 54 miles (87 km) in 10 minutes.

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-f-150

Mega Power Frunk: Huge front trunk

One of the highlights of the F-150 Lightning is the huge front trunk – the biggest frunk in the history of the electric car. It has a volume of 400 liters and can be loaded with up to 400 pounds (about 180 kilos).

Nancy Reppenhagen, the person responsible for the Mega Power Frunk, gave me an overview of the functions. In addition to the huge volume, I especially like that the grill is integrated into the bonnet, which allows easy loading and unloading (see picture above).

I still remember looking into the deep trunk of the Rivian R1T and wondering how to lift heavy objects in and out. Ford eliminated this problem. The height of the loading sill is that of a Ford Expedition comparable.

More about the F-150 Lightning: Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-lightning Ford F-150 Lightning: Electric pick-up presented

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-first Ford F-150: Electric version of the pick-up will start in early 2022

Rouge Electric Vehicle Center: The production plant

Ford is building a new factory for the F-150 Lightning, and I have already been able to tour it. The facility is about 4 acres, which is not very large for an auto assembly plant. According to Ford, robot technology and an optimization of the space requirements make it possible to produce more in a significantly smaller area.

On the assembly line, the F-150 Lightning is moved on autonomous, electrically powered vehicle carriers. These carriers are equipped with hydraulic lifting devices and automatically lift the vehicles to exactly the height that is optimal for the worker (or robot) at a station. The carriers follow a magnetic strip that is embedded in the floor. They’ll even charge while following the line.

Ford F-150 Lightning: First ride in the new electric pick-up-ride

The F-150 Lightning has a logo made up of an American flag and a lightning bolt

Conclusion and outlook: We will soon be testing it properly

This was our first close look at the Ford F-150 Lightning, but it won’t be the last. We will accompany the development. Personally, I believe the F-150 Lightning could be the most important electric vehicle since Tesla launched the Model S..

The F-150 is unlikely to be the first mass-produced electric pick-up. The Rivian R1T will probably win this title. But the base price of the R1T is almost twice that of the Pro spec on the F-150 Lightning, and the R1T isn’t exactly a workhorse, but more of an adventure vehicle. Therefore, the F-150 Lightning will appeal to a much wider audience and can prove that electric cars are good for the mass market.

We will soon find out whether the F-150 Lightning is suitable for work assignments in which heavy loads have to be transported and long distances have to be covered: I have ordered a Lightning that should be one of the first deliveries.

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