As Mohammad Abbas, one of three on-hand subject-matter experts, quipped before sending roadshow attendees to test ride in Ford’s all-new, all-electric F-150 Lightning Pro, “I invite you all to the future of electrification at the Ford Motor Company—where we take electricity and turn it into Lightning.”
Only this Lightning is safe to ride, and it's quite exhilarating, too.
The manufacturer’s first electric F-Series truck, and its new E-Transit, made the trek to Houston as the last stop on its 18-city tour introducing the vehicles to dealers, fleet managers, reservation holders, and media, who learned of Ford’s planned $30 billion investment in electric vehicles (EVs) through 2025, details about the vehicle’s battery options and capabilities, and the Pro’s payload capacity and jobsite functionality.
Of course, the highlight was a ride in a hand-built, Lightning Pro prototype equipped with Ford’s extended-range battery that enables 0-60 mph times in the mid-4 seconds—fast enough to thrill the most ardent muscle-car enthusiasts. But that’s not exactly what fleet managers are looking for in their new work trucks.
So Trailer/Body Builders spoke with Nathan Oscarson, Ford Pro trucks marketing manager, beforehand about Ford’s vision for how the vehicle fits into commercial fleets, which he said will benefit from a lower total cost of ownership, including reduced fuel expenses and maintenance, and the ability to quietly power multiple tools for “days and days.”
Ford believes 40% of U.S. vehicle volume will be fully electric by 2030. To prepare for our electrified future, Ford says it is investing billions into sustainable manufacturing plants, where it will produce its own batteries, and in training Ford technicians and commercial partners to service its EVs.
The crown jewels will be the $5.6 billion BlueOval City campus in Stanton, Tennessee, and the $5.8 billion, 1,500-acre BlueOvalSK Battery Park, a dedicated battery manufacturing complex designed with battery supplier SK Innovation. BlueOvalSK in Glendale, Kentucky, will include two of Ford’s four battery-production facilities, with the others in BlueOval City, and in the Detroit area. BlueOval City will include a battery recycling plant as Ford aims to meet its lofty sustainability goals for zero-waste, emissions-free manufacturing.
Two available batteries in Lightning
The F-150 Lightning Pro is available with standard- and extended-range batteries.
The standard battery has a targeted, EPA-estimated range of 230 miles, and the extended battery targets 300 miles. Both lithium-ion batteries are liquid cooled by a thermal management system that actively regulates battery-pack temperatures, helping support range estimates.
The vehicle features a pre-conditioning system, similar to remote start, that conditions the cabin and battery for optimal comfort and performance before departure. The standard battery targets a peak of 420 hp, and the extended battery targets 563 hp. Both versions boast 775 lb.-ft. of torque, and electric motors on the front and rear axles for full-time, four-wheel drive, unlike previous “intelligent” systems that alternated power between axles.
The Lightning is the fastest F-150 Ford has offered, with the standard battery enabling 0-60 times in the 5-second range. The batteries also can be submerged in up to 23 inches of water, so users can safely back their boat trailers down a ramp, or navigate water-logged dirt roads. More importantly for fleet managers, the batteries are easily serviced by raising the vehicle, then lowering the battery compartment.
Ford offers four options for charging Lightning and E-Transit batteries at home (or the home terminal) and on the go, and a network of Ford and partner charging stations strengthened by its June acquisition of Electriphi, a California-based provider of charging management and fleet monitoring software for electric vehicles. Ford also offers the FordPass app, which makes it easier to find and pay for charging nationwide.
The all-new, reengineered chassis was designed specifically for the F-150 Lightning. It now features an upgraded, high-strength steel frame to support the battery and to protect it in a collision and from debris.
The extended-range battery, which weighs about 1,800 lb., sits in the middle of the chassis, giving the Lightning a well-balanced, lower center of gravity than a conventional F-150 with an engine under the hood. It also features the first F-Series independent rear suspension.
The Lightning, with a curb weight of nearly 6,500 lb., weighs 1,300 lb. more than its gas equivalent yet offers almost 500 lb. more payload capacity, Abbas said, with about 2,000 lb. of capacity in the bed and 400 in the “frunk.”
What used to house an engine now is a high-tech cargo area with four 120-volt AC Pro Power Onboard outlets and two USB ports, and a total of 2.4KW of available power. In his demonstration, Abbas, also a professor at Georgian College-Automotive Business School of Canada, had a 1,500W table saw, 110W fan, 130W cement mixer, and 500W flood light all plugged in. If two accessories that exceed the 2,400W capacity are turned on simultaneously, a breaker in the frunk trips. “If it ever goes over capacity, everything shuts off, just like it would in your home, but you push this green button and it resets,” Abbas said.