The arrival of a fully electric Ford F-150 marks a significant milestone in the switch to zero-emissions vehicles, and we’ve had a first test of the model in the US.
The Ford F-150 Lightning is undeniably one of the most important electric cars ever made. That’s a bold statement for sure, but once you consider the unwavering popularity of the pickup truck, the F-Series’ loyal fanbase, and its potential to change many Americans’ perception of EVs, the significance of this pickup truck is clear.
While the model is not yet confirmed for Australia, Ford will inevitably launch EV models here as electrification takes over mainstream model line-ups. And perhaps a sign that the F-150 Lightning could be one of those, the Blue Oval is launching the V6 F-150 here next year. So obviously, we wanted to try the F-150 Lightning out for ourselves.
The styling of the F-150 Lightning is more understated than the Rivian or Hummer it competes with, as the overall shape is barely changed from the regular V8-powered F-150. The full-width LED light bars at the front and rear, plus the blanked off grille and more aerodynamic wheels do hint this is the EV version, but the familiar looks should appeal to the F-150 diehards the Lightning needs to win over.
That said, during our time with the all-electric F-150 we became accustomed to people stopping to stare, not to mention firing off a barrage of questions about how we managed to get our hands on one. That’s because, to date, Ford has 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, and isn’t taking any more right now, so clearly the sales pitch is working.
The truck we drove was the top-of-the-range Platinum model, with all the bells and whistles including the 131kWh extended range battery and 414kW motor. That’s plenty of poke, with a 0-100km/h time in the mid-four-second range, which you can use to stun any sports car driver you leave at the lights in this three-tonne truck – as we discovered first hand.
But switching from Sport to Normal mode, and leaving the city for the open roads of southern California, we had an indicated range of 480km, which is just 32km less than the truck’s claimed range. Unfortunately, from here, the truck’s energy consumption was higher than expected, so we reduced the level of regenerative braking to allow the truck to roll more on the highway – a trick we used more than once over the course of our road trip.
As well as highway cruising, the F-150 Lightning can also tackle windier country roads; its ride comfort is likely thanks to the truck’s independent suspension system – a first for the F-150.
The wealth of technology in the cabin also helps when you’re covering many miles in the F-150 Lightning. In our range-topping Platinum model that included a 12-inch digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel paired with a 15.5-inch central touchscreen swiped from the Mustang Mach-E SUV. Less expensive models get a slightly smaller 12-inch unit.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the range, while the 18-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system in our truck proved a real treat. The Lightning’s rapid charging capabilities also came in handy, providing hundreds of miles of range in the time it took for a long lunch.
Some of the truck’s other tricks? As there’s no engine, customers are rewarded with a 400-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet. Plus, built-in electrical outlets in both the load bed and frunk allow you to power tools and other equipment from the truck’s battery, and bi-directional charging means you can top up another EV, or even power a house in an emergency.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike the Rivian R1T or Hummer EV, the Lightning range features a more affordable, commercial-focused version called the Pro, priced at $46,974 (c.AUD$68,000) before any tax incentives. For that you get the standard range powertrain, plus Ford’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 safety and driver assist systems, the onboard scales, rapid charging capabilities, a 12-inch central infotainment touchscreen and the Pro Power Onboard function to power tools and other equipment.
However, if you were to go for a top-of-the-range Platinum like ours, that would set you back at least $96,874 (c.AUD$141,000). Though, in the world of electric pickup trucks, that’s not the craziest price tag we’ve seen.