How do you make the shift to electric vehicles feel real to vast swaths of America? Make a fully electric pickup truck. Make that the best-selling truck in history, the F-150. And then price it at what can amount to less than the gasoline version.
That’s exactly what Ford has done. With the arrival of the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning revealed Wednesday night and starting at $39,974—not including the $7,500 federal EV tax credit or a mandatory destination fee—the idea of going fully electric will make sense to an entirely new group. They’re the ones who have been wowed by Tesla Ludicrous mode launches, Tank Turn maneuvers, and Crab Mode tricks, but don’t have the bandwidth (or the budget) for gimmicks.
The F-150 Lightning will also have a GVWR under 8,500 pounds--unlike the GMC Hummer EV SUT, keeping it in the light-duty category with other passenger vehicles and light trucks.
“We’re not here to make an electric truck for the few—Ford is committed to building one that solves real problems for real people,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford president for the Americas.
The F-150 Lightning doesn’t migrate to an unusual hybrid body structure like the GMC Hummer EV and the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV—and it doesn’t shoehorn in a challenging double-layer battery pack either. It rides on a new independent rear suspension, with a steel body-on-frame design new for the Lightning that helps permit the most possible space for the battery pack.
The body of the Lightning is made of the same high-strength, military grade aluminum alloy as other versions of the F-150, and it’s within a couple of inches of the gasoline version in key dimensions. It has a 5-foot-5 bed, while the crew cab is what Ford calls SuperCrew that sits five.
Setting it up for success—the way truck users would
Towing capacity rates at up to 10,000 pounds for the Lightning, and payload up to 2,000 pounds, and a system helps determine the weight of the trailer so it can adjust driving range estimates. The pack itself has a dual-circuit liquid-cooling system that was tuned based on endurance and towing testing—including steep grades. And Ford has provided extra underbody protection to keep the pack safe during off-roading, including metal skid plates, and the pack has waterproof casing and its own outer structure.
The Lightning will have Normal, Sport, Off Road and Tow/Haul modes. Inside, it will offer many of the same features as the gasoline F-150, including 180-degree Max Recline seats and a fold-out work surface allowed by a power shift lever that stows away.
Upper Lariat and Platinum versions of the Lightning will get the big “Sync 4A” 15.5-inch touch screen system right out of the Mustang Mach-E—including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Most versions also get a 12-inch instrument cluster with “animated graphics.”
All versions of the F-150 Lightning get over-the-air updates, and Co-Pilot360 active safety tech will be available, along with a BlueCruise driver-assistance system that allows hands-free driving on 100,000 miles of qualified divided highways. So-called Power-Up software updates will periodically update some feature and interface aspects—and perhaps performance attributes.
A little added flair, and a whole lot of frunk
On the outside, the Lightning follows the same silhouette and overall dimensions as the gasoline F-150, but with styling details that signal the electric version. Ford claims it’s the most aerodynamic F-150 ever, and the grille has been revised/omitted, running boards have been reshaped and the hood has been resculpted, all in the interest of aero. Some versions include LED lightbars that run across the front and rear.
The frunk (front trunk), where the big V-6 or V-8 would otherwise be, will offer 400 liters of space (about 14 cubic feet) and will carry 400 pounds. Ford has included a drain plug for those who want to turn it into a gigantic cooler for tailgating, and along the upper wall of it there’s a power plug with enough to power small appliances. Base versions of the truck get 2.4 kw of output, while top Lariat and Platinum versions get 9.6 kw of output, with 2.4 kw of that offered through the frunk and the remainder through the cab and bed.
The ProPower Onboard systems work with the FordPass app, sending an alert if the vehicle battery falls to 33%, or when the level is approaching the amount of charge needed to get to the nearest public charger.
Power-brick flexibility for when truck is base station
On a 150-kw DC fast charger, the extended-range version will recover up to 54 miles of range in 10 minutes and get from 15% to 80% in about 41 minutes, according to Ford. On a 48-amp 240-volt charger, of the sort you might charge on in a home garage, the Lightning will charge to full in 10 or 13 hours, depending on the battery.
Ford claims to be the first automaker to add a backup power system for the home. Called Intelligent Backup Power, it can output 9.6 kw to power home appliances and keep the lights on during a brownout or natural disaster. To enable this, an available 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro will be offered with a home management system and home solar from SunRun. Altogether the system will be able to make smart power fill-in decisions and power a home for up to three days at full power or up to 10 days “if power is rationed,” Ford said.
A future system, called Ford Intelligent Power, will monitor peak and off-peak energy times, using the truck to help power the home during peak times and then charge the truck at off-peak times, usually overnight.
Ford coordinates payment access to 63,000 charging stations, as well as route planning and various EV-specific features, in a single FordPass app that transitions seamlessly between smartphone and vehicle. An Intelligent Range feature factors in weather, traffic, payload, and even towing weight—allowing users to save familiar trailers to quickly recalibrate range.
Modest price for all the truck
The F-150 Lightning will arrive in spring 2022 and will be offered in four models. The base $39,974 model will be fleet-focused—although individuals will also be able to buy it—with a whole ecosystem of connected-fleet services on offer. The mid-range F-150 Lightning XLT will start at $52,974 and add comfort and technology features; it includes cloth seating with a power driver’s seat, a 12-inch capacitive touch screen system, built-in navigation, a 360-degree camera system, hotspot capability, and a power frunk, with a power tailgate optional. Lariat versions will add the power tailgate plus tailgate lighting, 20-inch Carbonized Gray wheels, power heated and ventilated leather front seats, the 15.5-inch infotainment system, and 8-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound.
Top Platinum versions will only come with the larger battery pack (it’s optional on the other models), with premium leather seating with adjustable-contour front seats, phone-as-key functionality, and an 18-speaker B&O sound system. With their big 22-inch machined aluminum wheels and mother lode of features, expect range ratings for Platinums to be somewhat lower.
XLT, Lariat, and Platinum models all come with a suite of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking, cross-traffic alert, a blind-spot warning system, active lane control, and reverse sensors. An enhanced package optional on XLT and standard on top trims includes adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition, and “evasive steering assist.”
Back to that price: Although the top end of the lineup will be about $90,000, a base 2021 Ford F-150 XL SuperCrew, with the same 5.5-foot bed, costs $41,855. With savings that start at the sticker price—before all the advantages of incentives, ownership costs, and future updates—EVs are no longer stuck in a flyover state.