If there was ever a truck that inspired a loyal following, it was the Lightning. For the better part of a decade this pickup captured the hearts of enthusiasts who wanted a vehicle that blended practicality and performance. With impressive handling and acceleration, it defied the perception that a hefty hauler could keep pace with performance cars. Now the Lighting brand is back to overcome any preconceptions truck customers might have about electrification.
It reacts to your command in a fraction of a second, and with no gear changes and a low center of gravity, it’s a super-smooth and engaging drive experience. In short, F-150 Lightning delivers a driving experience you have never felt before. — Darren Palmer, Ford
“The F-150 Lightning is a massive moment for our Ford team. America’s No. 1 auto brand is going zero emissions with America’s favorite vehicle. It’s quicker than a Raptor, with standard 4×4 and independent rear suspension; a power frunk, enough juice to run your house for three days or power an awesome tailgate; and it will forever improve with over-the-air updates,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said. “It will be built at the Rouge factory, where Henry Ford changed the world and my grandfather punched in every day. F-150 Lightning represents all that our country can do when we push for progress.”
When Ford set out to electrify the company’s most important product — the F-series pickup — resurrecting the Lightning branding dovetailed logically with this mission. That said, it was a bit, well, shocking to those still loyal to the bolt branding.
“When Ford Special Vehicle Team debuted the first-gen SVT F-150 Lightning in 1992 and the second-gen in 1994. Who would have guessed they would become among the top collectible F-150 trucks today? The Guinness Book of World Records called Lightning, ‘the World’s Fastest Production Truck.’ Our customers called it ‘fun.’ Today the Lightning legacy lives on as the F-150 Lightning, a new entrant in Ford’s most important franchise,” explained Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas & International Markets Group, Ford Motor Company. “We gave great thought before naming this vehicle, Lightning, following in the footsteps of the iconic SVT F-150 Lightning. Much like the original lightning, the F-150 Lightning is the truck that reinvents the way we look at trucks. It traces its roots to the first Model T pickups, over a century ago, and carries forward the F-series DNA to reimagine what a truck can be –100-percent electric and 100-percent built for tough. It’s powerful and Lightning quick and zero emissions.”
Today Ford reveals the latest Lightning. It is a cutting-edge hauler built for the mainstream truck customer. That said, it is also the most powerful pickup yet from the Blue Oval when fitted with the extended-range battery. With that arrangement it is targeted to deliver a whopping 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque.
“…When people drive their Mustang Mach-E they are blown away by how it feels. It’s so unexpected. That’s the same feeling you get when you drive this truck,” Darren Palmer, North America Battery Electric Vehicle General Manager, who spearheaded the Mach-E project, said. “Let’s start with the performance. F-150 Lightning hits 60 miles per hour in the mid 4 seconds, with an available extended range battery. It has a targeted 775 lb-ft of nearly instantaneous torque — the most of any F-150, ever. It reacts to your command in a fraction of a second, and with no gear changes and a low center of gravity, it’s a super-smooth and engaging drive experience. In short, F-150 Lightning delivers a driving experience you have never felt before.”
For those hoping for performance from this amped-up pickup, but Ford definitely didn’t take the F-150 branding lightly either. The company is investing $22 billion in electrification over the next few years, but more than just shoving an electric powertrain into a truck, Ford engineers sought out to imbue the Lightning with as much or more capability than its fossil-fueled brethren.
“…We know our customer demands capability and durability, regardless of whether it’s gas or electric every F 150 Lightning goes through the same built for tough engineering and testing regimen as every other F-series truck…” Linda Zhang, F-150 Lightning Chief Program Engineer, explained. “This is testing for the 95-percentile customer usage case, the ones that push our trucks, the hardest, every day. It starts with engineering the components and systems to be robust and durable.”
To that end, the company tested these trucks in the harshest environments and fortified the batteries for duty that most won’t see, thus ensuring they are ready for what truck customers will throw at them.
“Vehicles are run in salt baths, and deep water across rocks and stones, through mud baths and up high grades and desert heat with trailers attached with temperatures from -40 Fahrenheit to 120 Fahrenheit,” Zhang said. “Batteries are put through their paces: charged, run, and recharged hundreds of times. Each cell is tested for charged capability and safety, and for added robustness, we enclose the battery and a metal XO structure with added metal skid plates for underbody protection. This generation of F-150 is the toughest F-150 ever.”
“The team had to be really creative in packaging the battery to ensure we could maximize energy, minimize weight and deliver robustness for our customers. We can see that in our battery cover which is made of sheet-molded composite and is one single piece,” Gitanjli McRoy Manager, Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering, added. “Another example is a mounting of the battery, which is done with a mechanically isolated structure to enable a robust design for off-road adventures. The battery design includes a state-of-the-art liquid cooling system. The thermal system was an important design area for us to focus on to ensure we were built Ford tough for all the different aggressive uses our customers expect to be able to do with their truck.”
Not only is the Lightning rugged and the first electric truck offered by Ford, but his pickup benefits from something else no other Blue Oval truck has thus far — a thoroughly modern suspension.
“…Very unique to the industry and our first for F-series trucks, the F-150 Lightning has an independent rear suspension. This means one side of the suspension can move separate from the other side, unlike a solid rear axle,” Zhang added. “This was done to take advantage of the front and rear motor configuration to provide four-wheel drive on all models. This also improves isolation from different road surfaces and when combined with the rear aluminum control arms, significantly reduced unsprung mass for even greater ride, handling and comfort.”
Despite the sharper handling and plusher ride offered by the independent suspensions, front and rear, the Lighting doesn’t give up much in the way of hauling and towing capability. It can carry up to 2,000 pounds of payload and tow as much as 10,000 pounds. Of course, how much extra weight you are carrying will have an impact on how much juice your truck uses, and Ford developed a clever, high-tech solution to ensure the Lightning’s range estimates keep pace with extra passengers and cargo.
“What’s special for the F-150 Lightning, since payload can impact your vehicle’s range, onboard scales are integrated with the intelligent range to ensure that the F 150 Lightning can always give you an accurate estimate of how far you can go,” Mark Sich, Digital Design Manager, UX, said. “It also takes into account the weight of the passengers and the payload in the Mega Power frunk, and, using FordPass, you can view the payload weight in real time.”
Another benefit of the electrified powertrain is that it expands on the capabilities previously offered in the F-150 with 3.5-liter PowerBoost V6 hybrid powertrain. Chiefly, it can power any number of tools and accessories at a camping spot, job site or tailgate party, but it can also automatically keep your house juiced up if the grid lets you down.
“There’s so much more to F-150 Lightning than just traditional things like power and speed. Really it’s the ultimate portable energy source. Imagine a situation, like events in Texas earlier this year, when severe weather led to millions of homes without power. Well, what if there was a way to harness that energy stored in your F-150 Lightning battery to be able to keep your home and your appliances on,” Ryan O’Gorman, Electric Vehicle Manager of Strategic Partnerships, said. “If your F-150 Lightning is plugged in, when your outage occurs, intelligent backup power will automatically kick in to power your home, when power is restored. The truck automatically reverts to charging its battery, no additional input from the customer will be required, making this experience, totally seamless. With the ability to off-board up to 9.6 kilowatts of energy, F-150 Lightning can provide full home power for up to three days on a fully charged battery.”
Clearly the latest Lightning brings forth a host of technologies and capabilities that will expand the idea of what a truck is capable of achieving. That said, it still embodies Ford’s classic F-150 styling with a bit of electrified flair.
“When we were designing the F-150 Lightning, our customers told us that they want something modern and advanced, but did not want their truck to look like a doorstop or spaceship. We made sure the F-150 Lightning stayed true to the Ford truck DNA,” Jasen Turnbull, F-150 Lightning Marketing Manager, said. “We learned right away that getting inside the truck and actually driving it, are critically important to realizing what this vehicle has to offer our customers were blown away by the smooth and balanced drive experience that F-150 Lightning provides, not to mention that great acceleration. The best thing about electric vehicles, is that instantaneous torque, it’s ready to go, but it also has the function as a tool. We knew our truck has credible truck capability and be just as durable as their current truck with even more utility, more technology, and better drive performance, and of course all of this is built around a zero-emissions, all-electric truck.”
Perhaps best of all, the 2022 F-150 Lightning is democratizing both electrification and technology with entry-level pricing beginning at $39,974 and the midrange XLT ringing the register at $52,974. Of course climbing to the top trim levels and feature sets raises the pricing as high as $90,000, but just a $100 deposit placed on the company’s website will save one for you right now if you are ready to make the jump to an electrically powered pickup.