Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Ford is currently focusing on electric surges that will ultimately shape the identity of the American automaker as it establishes a larger footprint toward carbon neutrality. The planet needs it, the human race needs it, and the sentient beings we share land and waters with definitely require it. But who said you had to sacrifice capability needs when purchasing an emissions-free pickup truck? Well, that’s why Ford infused the F-150 with electric current.
Welcome to San Antonio, Texas
They say everything is bigger in Texas, so Ford honored this adage with a massive showcase of the all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning at The Pearl District, a 22-acre culinary, cultural, and shopping destination 2-miles north of Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. It’s the perfect scene to enjoy outings with family and friends while admiring art murals and green spaces while learning about the storied history of the iconic Pearl Hotel (originally one of the largest breweries in Texas) dating back to 1883. More importantly, Texans onsite were astonished at the display of Lightning pickup trucks available to witness first-hand while gauging Ford product specialists with inquiries.
It’s a special moment witnessing and experiencing the transformation of the number one selling gasoline vehicle in the US (with the traditional F-150) to the EV version. Ford has received 200,000 reservations for Lightning and states that three out of four customers are new to Ford, four out of five are new to EVs, and 50% are new to trucks. Interest is excellent, but can they keep up with demand since there has been a slowdown and stagnation with automotive supply chains, especially with electric vehicle parts and batteries? Out of the 200,000 Lightning orders, 2,800 vehicles have been built. The HUMMER EV SUT is currently rolling out and Chevy is launching the Silverado EV in the fall, so of course, there is pressure on Ford to maintain the status quo and possibly have Lightning mirror the gas sales.
F-150 Lightning Features
During my initial drive in Texas, I observed a few notables such as 580-horsepower from the extended range battery, 775 lb. ft of torque, a generator, a 5.5-foot cargo box, the SuperCrew cab, 0 to 60 mph in the mid-4-second range, and a large 400-liter front trunk with drainage dubbed Mega Power Frunk. The truck features two battery choices with a range of 230 miles and 320 miles. It can tow 10,000 pounds (75% of F-150 owners tow) and has a 2,235-payload rating. Our Lariat model in Iced Blue Silver started at $67,474 but totaled $80,589, including the $1,695 destination fee. The 4×4 model lineup features a Pro, XLT, Lariat, and Platinum with a starting price of less than $40,000. Conversely, I am now back home test driving a fully equipped, gas-guzzling Ford F-150 Raptor super truck with a similar price as the Lariat. But the performance off-road beast is certainly not as fast, since the Lightning will smoke the Raptor without the smoke. The dichotomy between the two is mind-boggling.
Ford’s EV Platform
Key vehicles in Ford’s electric revolution include the E-Transit cargo van, the F-150 Lightning featuring a rear generator with enough juice to power your home, and the Mustang Mach-E. The company has taken the requisite steps to lead the charge toward zero emissions by investing more than $22 billion in electrification through 2025. In fact, the Ford Icon Park global battery center was just established in Southeast Michigan to research and develop battery technology.
The Lightning’s all-electric 4×4 drivetrain features dual electric motors (one for each axle) and two battery options. The 98-kWh standard range battery produces 452-horsepower and travels an EPA-estimated 230 miles and the 131-kWh extended-range battery produces 580-horsepower and goes an EPA-estimated 320 miles. Both kick out a whopping 775-lb-ft of torque. However, if I buy an EV, I need at least 300 miles of range. Any percentages below are not enticing enough, even though company executives will say the avg driver’s commute per day is less than 39 miles. Not for me. I drive when I get in my ride, and I frequently head up to Jersey from MD to see my family. EVs have to become road trip amenable for widespread consumer acceptance and confidence.
Ford EV Charging and Ecosystem
Industry analysts say that 80% of your vehicle charging will be at home. For this reason, Lightning will come with a Mobil Power Cord to plug into a 120v or dedicated 240v wall outlet. It will take 15 hours to charge the standard-range battery (15% – 100%) or 20 hours for the extended-range battery using the 240v. Or you can have the available 80amp Ford Charge Station Pro installed in your home for an additional fee. This unit will juice your truck in 8 to 10 hours, depending on the battery. Then, when you are out and about, tap into the BlueOval Charge Network, which features 20,500 stations from charging providers such as Electrify America. A 150 kW DC Fast Charging public station will power your Lightning 41/54 miles every 10 minutes. The truck also features a generator called Pro Power OnBoard with 11 outlets to create the ultimate tailgating experience or plug up your power tools.
On-Road and Off-Road Drive Experience
At the traffic light, a truck owner in another vehicle asked if I was driving the new Lightning. I said yes and proceeded to explain its electric torque. He asked me to show him, which I did by warping through time upon acceleration. With a 50/50 weight distribution, it’s so smooth and compliant at high speeds. Four drive modes include Normal, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Off-Road. Developed in the most severe environments from Alaska to Colorado, the Lightning is also Built Ford Tough. It can drive through 2 ft of water, splash through muddy waters, and creep up hills and rocky terrain. Ford engineered it with an independent rear suspension, electronic-locking rear differential, full steel panel under protection, and placed 360-degree cameras around the truck to help you navigate through the wild. Yet, I would take off those Hankook AT2 tires and swap with BF Goodrich KO2s or Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires if trail riding is part of my lifestyle. The Lightning had trouble on a small boulder as the wheel kept spinning since the tires didn’t have the advanced tread needed for ultimate grip.
The Lightning Interior
Aside from the tech aspect of the Lightning, the cabin looks like a standard F-150. You still have the robust hand shifter, large volume and tuning knobs, adjustable pedals, and available SYNC4 with a standard 12″ touchscreen. But now there is the 15.5″ horizontal center stack touchscreen. The cabin is quiet until you turn up the B&O sound system. It’s a digital product, so over-the-air software updates, two 120-volt power outlets, and six USB ports are part of the formula. Though, some of the fit and finish materials are cheesy and the steering wheel needs a more premium feel.
A Lightning Conclusion
Ford is utilizing practices of the past to cement a successful electric future. A solid grille design, three Lightning specific aero wheels including a 22,” underbody aero shields, LED zone lighting, and LED running boards personify this electric pickup truck. Yes, there will continue to be growing pains as the mobility sector shifts from fossil fuels to electrification, but it’s a route we have no choice to take. And in the near future, Ford and the Lightning will be looked back upon as initial forebears of this progressive energy transformation.