First ride: 2022 Ford Electric F-150 Lightning Pickup Truck

September 13, 2021 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

A first ride in the 2022 Ford electric F-150 Lightning pickup reveals a truck with sports car-like acceleration, surprising agility and versatility that exceeds its internal combustion counterparts.

Ford demonstrated the truck for its dealers and the media recently at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The vehicles were early prototypes that had to be driven on a closed circuit and only by Ford drivers.

But a Trucks.com ride-along was eye-opening.

The acceleration from a stop was shocking for a truck – below 5 seconds to 60 mph for the extended range version of the F-150 Lightning. While plenty of sports cars and many performance sedans can better the time, a passenger doesn’t expect to be tossed back in their seat and feel the ripple of G-forces in large crew cab pickup. The vehicle weighs about 6,500 pounds.

STRONG HANDLING

The truck’s ability to make sharp turns at speed is equally surprising. While the gasoline F-150 handles decently for a truck, it still has the body roll of a large body-on-frame vehicle. The electric version has far less, thanks to how the heavy battery pack mounted into the chassis lowers the center of gravity. Unloaded, the truck has the same 50-50 weight distribution as a BMW sports sedan.

People don’t purchase trucks to drive like sports cars. However, improved acceleration and agility are worthy goals for a big vehicle absent driver abuse. It’s easy to see how the extra power and better handling will help haul a load, towing cargo, or drive the family to a camping vacation. And because the vehicle is electric, owners won’t have to be concerned about the increased tailpipe pollution from driving a large pickup.

RANGE

Ford only demonstrated the extended-range version of the truck. That will be a more expensive model with a larger battery and an estimated 300 miles of range. The electric powertrain will provide up to 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque.

The standard range F-150 Lightning will go 230 miles between charges and provide up to 426 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. Ford engineers said its 0-60 mph time would clock at about 5 seconds. That’s better than the acceleration of most vehicles and more than enough for just about any truck driver.

As with all-electric vehicles, the big drawback is charging time. The trucks will take 10 to 13 hours to charge fully with a standard home charging station. Ford will sell an 80 amp home charger that will reduce the time to 8-hours for the extended range truck. It jumps to a faster charge because the larger battery pack integrates two charging channels from a single plug.

The best the trucks can do is charging from 15 percent to 80 percent in about 40-45 minutes and 150-kW DC fast-charging public stations that Electrify America is building. Ford expects people and businesses to charge at home or business location 80 percent of the time.

VERSATILITY

Ford also demonstrated the versatility of the truck, both for cargo and for supplying power.

Despite the heavy battery, the Lightning has plenty of payload and towing capability. The standard range truck will have a maximum of 2,000 pounds of cargo and 7,700 pounds of available towing capacity with Ford’s tow package. The extended range F-150 Lightning will have a maximum of 1,800 pounds of payload and a maximum of 10,000 pounds of available towing capacity with Ford’s tow package. Ford didn’t provide data on how hauling and towing will reduce the truck’s range.

But what set it apart is the F-150 Lightning’s ability to act as a mobile power station. It has multiple 110- and 220-volt ports to run power equipment, televisions for tailgating, electric coolers and other gear. The batteries have so much power that spending a day running equipment will put only a small dent in the truck’s range. There will be plenty of juice to return to home base.

Ford also has cleverly created a large cargo area, or frunk, under the hood where a gas truck’s engine is located. The frunk also is wired to run electric equipment and can be washed out with a hose.

Finally, when linked to the 80 amp charging system and integration system, the truck can serve as backup power for a home in case of a blackout. Ford said it could run a home for days, depending on the size of the building and the number of appliances. Owners can set the truck to provide power until it reaches a lower range limit, leaving electricity for a drive. The truck automatically starts to recharge when grid power resumes.

PRICING

Ford said it plans the first deliveries of the electric F-150 in the middle of next year and that it already has 120,000 reservations.

Other brands, including Chevrolet, GMC, Tesla and Rivian, all have trucks in development, and some are close to production. But the Ford will be the first mass-market electric pickup truck and will have the lowest starting price when it goes on sale.

The commercial-grade, entry model starts at $39,974 before any federal or state tax credits and purchase incentives. The mid-trim XLT model offers more features and starts at $52,974. Depending on the state, buyers could get up to $10,000 back in state and federal tax credits and incentives.

Jerry Hirsch September 9, 2021
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