Ford F-150 Lightning: Bringing the power, and the frunk

By John Halpin | Associate Account Director

In mid-June, a few HMHers attended the virtual Forth Roadmap Conference, which explored emerging trends and best practices in electric, smart and shared mobility adoption. Speakers and panelists came from federal and local governments, utilities, vehicle OEMs, charging providers, technology startups and public interest groups. It was an interesting and informative event, and one case study in particular stood out to us.

During a session called “Looking at 2021 and Beyond,” panelists were asked what the single most important news story of the year was in this space. They unanimously agreed on the launch of the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s new electric pickup truck.

It’s easy to understand why the panel felt this way. The Ford F-150 is regarded as America’s most popular truck, and its new electric counterpart isn’t all that expensive in comparison. As price can be a barrier to entry for electric vehicles, the F-150 Lightning has the potential to be a game-changer.

We briefly addressed the F-150 Lightning launch in our May Month in Transportation blog post, but let’s dig a bit deeper to give you an overview of why this truck is getting so much buzz.

Pricing: A recent Ford survey email included pricing for higher-spec models of the F-150 Lightning. We already knew that the Pro model will start at $39,974 (before the $7,500 federal tax credit), but there are five additional models, with the high-end Platinum starting at $82,374.

For reference, the gas-powered Ford F-150 ranges from $29,290-$74,600.

Frunk: It’s a trunk in the front, where the engine usually is. Who wouldn’t want a frunk?

Seriously, aside from the frunk, check out Business Insider’s look at the F-150 Lightning’s “6 coolest features.”

Battery Life: Ford offers an 80-amp charging station with the extended range F-150 Lightning, which provides an average range of 30 miles per charging hour, and fully charges from 15 percent to 100 percent in approximately eight hours.

On a 150-kilowatt DC fast charger, the F-150 Lightning’s charging capabilities really take off. It can accumulate up to 54 miles of range in 10 minutes and charge from 15 percent to 80 percent in about 41 minutes.

HMH Senior Photographer Karl Sandell is a pickup truck driver at heart, having driven approximately 500,000 miles in four pickup trucks since 1999. Due to his long-distance driving habits, the Lightning’s charging details don’t seem to be a good fit for him.

“I often drive 500 to 600 miles a day, and adding time to that long day to recharge the truck won’t work,” Sandell said. “This truck is better suited to a company that works locally. Next month I may be driving from Portland to Albuquerque, and I plan to make the 1,400-mile drive in two to two-and-a-half days. I can’t do that in the Lightning.”

Bidirectional Charging: The F-150 Lightning offers bidirectional charging, which means that in addition to being charged, the truck can charge other items, such as appliances on a camping trip, power tools for someone at a job, or even an entire house for up to three days. This sounds awesome.

However, this feature isn’t available on the base model. According to MotorTrend, “You’ll need to spring for the extended-range model and its dual onboard charger system that can cram electrons into the (larger) battery pack at a rate of 19.2 kW. Buyers will also then need to own a home into which an 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro bidirectional charger can be installed.”

Here’s a link to MotorTrend’s deep dive into the bidirectional charging capability of the F-150 Lightning. This is still a really cool feature, but as with most things, read the fine print.

Power: The F-150 Lightning is estimated at 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque – approximately 150 hp and 200 lb-ft more than its top-rated truck with a gas-powered engine. Max payload capacity is 2,000 pounds, with max towing capacity at 10,000 pounds. The gas-powered F-150 can beat both numbers, depending on its configuration.

Creative: Here’s the launch video from Ford. It’s informative and energetic, with lightning everywhere. And perhaps most importantly, it makes the F-150 Lightning look like a typical, tough pickup truck…which seems to be Ford’s goal.

In a flash: What people are saying about the Lightning:

  • “We don’t think our customers should have to expect anything less out of a Lightning than they would the F-150s that they’re used to.” – Anthony Magagnoli, Ford experience development engineer
  • “This sucker’s quick.” President Joe Biden, after driving a prototype
  • “The F-150 Lightning is not meant to be an electric truck that happens to be useful in daily life, but to be a daily working truck that just happens to be electric.” – AutoWeek
  • “It hauls ass and tows like a beast.” – Ford CEO Jim Farley