Ford made it clear that the automaker intends to lead the parade in the electric vehicle industry with the introduction of the Mustang Mach-E SUV in 2021 and the addition in 2022 of the Ford F-150 Lightning, an all-electric version, to the best-selling pickup lineup in America for 48 years.
Hagerty Drivers Club magazine’s Service Department article by Sajeev Mehta suggests the F-150 Lightning may be the “most important vehicle since the Model-T” and “might be the best vehicle ever to wear the Blue Oval – and the best reason to get excited for an electrified future.” The new 2023 version of the F-150 Lightning is now a “look-alike” workhorse of the gas F-150, but with massive, instant torque upon acceleration. And with all this technological innovation, the F-150 Lightning was named 2023 Truck of the Year by NACTOY at the past North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Power and Performance
All F-150 Lightning pickups will come standard with two electric motors, one for the front wheels and one for the back, providing all-wheel drive power with a choice of battery systems. According to Drew Dorian, author of the Car & Driver article, 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning, the Standard-Range battery combines with the motors to produce 452 horsepower and an estimated EPA range of 230 miles. The Extended-Range battery will generate 580 horsepower and a range estimate of 320 miles.
Both power systems can produce an impressive peak torque of 775 lb-ft. The Verge article, Ford F-150 Lightning Revealed: An Electric Truck for the Masses by Sean O'Kane, adds, “That's good enough to make it the quickest F-150 ever made, with the ability to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the mid-4 second range.
The official towing capacity of the Extended-Range battery model is 10,000 pounds with a towing range of up to 150 miles. The Standard-Range battery towing capacity is limited to 7,700 pounds for an estimated 115 miles. The current estimated payload capacity for the Standard-Range battery F-150 is 2,000 pounds, while the estimated payload capacity of the Extended-Range battery model is slightly less at 1,800 pounds because of the battery weight difference.
Charging Coverage Nationwide
The Ford Motor Company announced in 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, that it will be "offering an ecosystem of charging solutions" so drivers are not left stranded on the job, at home, on the road, or off the road.
Based on public announcements, charging networks data provided to the Department of Energy by original equipment manufacturers (OEM)/automotive manufacturers, F-150 Lightning drivers have access to the largest charging network (currently more than 63,000 charging plugs) in North America through the FordPass App. Drivers can use FordPass Power My Trip to map out favorite routes in conjunction with fast charging station locations, taking into account the vehicle's current charge level, to map out favorite routes in conjunction with fast charging station locations, known as the BlueOvalTM Charge Network.
The 150-kW DC fast charging stations identified by Power My Trip is the quickest option for recharging all-electric vehicles. The 150kW DC stations, according to Ford, can provide 54 miles of range charge in just 10 minutes and can charge a Lightning with the extended-range battery from 15 percent to 80 percent of battery capacity in 41 minutes. The F-150 Standard-Range battery will take 44 minutes to charge from 15 percent to 80 percent at a rate of 41 miles in 10 minutes.
All Ford electric vehicles come with the 32-amp Ford Mobile Charger, which requires no special station and operates from a 120-volt with 240-volt outlet. The 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro, which provides 30 miles of range per charging hour and a full charge overnight, is standard with Extended-Range battery models.
Ford's Intelligent Range system is intended to reduce driver anxiety by considering the weather, traffic, grade, towing and payload weights, and other factors in calculating the remaining mileage range of the Lightning battery. Intelligent Range also adjusts range predictions for such factors as mountains and other terrains to keep the driver updated and informed.
Advancing Safety and Driver Assist Technology
Like all new F-150 models, the Lightning will include Ford's Co-Pilot 360 technology with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance, parking obstruction warning, and rear automatic braking as standard. Adaptive cruise control, lane centering assist, Speed Limit Sign recognition, hands-free driving and trailer backup assists are either available or standard on the 2023 F-150 Lightning models.
BlueCruiseTM, a hands-free driving active drive assist, will be standard in Platinum Lightning models. BlueCruise requires a specific hardware package that uses a driver-facing infrared camera to monitor the driver, making sure the driver watches the road. As reported by Edmunds in the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning article, Ford has mapped more than 100,000 miles of divided highways across the country where BlueCruise can be used to control the truck's steering, acceleration, and braking to ease the stress of long-haul driving. BlueCruise is an available option on Lariat Lightning F-150s.
The FordPass Connect modem is connected to Ford's network when you purchase a Lightning. The connection, which can be disabled, permits sending diagnostic data to Ford. This connection will allow F-150 Lightning owners to download over-the-air software updates, which Ford calls Power-Ups, for enhancing the future capability and convenience of the pickup. These software updates can also lengthen the longevity of F-150 Lightning ownership because safety technology innovations and other upgrades can make the initial Lightning pickups better than they are when sold.
Exterior Styling and Productivity Benefits
The styling of the new F-150 Lightning, available only as a crew cab, has a futuristic design and is more aerodynamic than regular F-150s, according to the Ford F-150 Lightning EV Has a 300-Mile Range and Could Power Your Home article by Jeff S. Bartlett of Consumer Reports. It also sports some changes in the hood with different available grille options. The electric pickup comes with running boards and dynamic horizontal LED lighting all the way across the top of the grille.
The Lightning is available in only four trim models—Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum—rather than the normal six. In the Verge article, Ford's F-150 Lightning Pro is an electric pickup truck for businesses, author Sean O'Kane reports, "…the Lightning Pro will come with Ford's commercial telematics software, which makes it easier for fleet owners to keep tabs on the location, charging status, or the health of their vehicles."
Similar to other new F-150s, the tailgate of the 5.5-foot bed is constructed of durable composite materials to serve as a work surface. The handy tailgate has clamp pockets, tailgate tie-downs, a grained low-slip surface, rulers, a mobile device holder, a cup holder, and other small item storage.
William Stopford, an automotive journalist based in Australia, reports in the CarExpert article, 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Review, that the Lightning Pro and XLT models come with Ford’s 2.4kW Pro Power Onboard setup, including “two 120V outlets in the cabin, two in the tub (bed), and four in the frunk. Optional variants and standard on the Lariat and Platinum is the 9.6kW Pro Onboard setup, which includes two 120V outlets in the tub plus a 240V outlet back there.”
Handy Interior and Tech Features
Like other F-150s, the Lightning features the foldaway gear selector and arm rest to create a flat work surface with a 4G LTE wireless hotspot nearby. The front seats recline more deeply than in other F-150s allowing for napping while the all-electric vehicle is being re-charged.
Connectivity is provided by SYNC® 4 technology and a 12-inch touchscreen in the Lightning Pro and XLT models. The Lariat and Platinum models of the Lightning feature SYNC® 4A with a 15.5-inch touchscreen and enhanced voice recognition to apps, navigation, and cloud-based connectivity. The 15.5-inch touchscreen is optional on the XLT and Pro models.
Owners of the new F-150 Lightning will especially like the convenience of the large, 14.1 cu-ft (400 pounds maximum) of storage space under the power-lifted grille and hood, quickly becoming known as a "Mega Power Frunk." The frunk is weather resistant with two USB charging ports (C and A) along with the four 120-volt outlets inside the frunk. The frunk also contains the Standard 2.4kW Pro Power Onboard generator or the available 9.6kW onboard backup power source. The available Intelligent Backup Power option in the Lightning with a fully charged battery can provide full electric power to a home for up to three days, or as long as 10 days if power is rationed. These estimates are based on the use of 30 kWh per day provided by the F-150 Lightning with the Extended-Range battery.
Off-Road Performance Ready
The F-150 Lightning has gone through the same rugged durability testing as other recent F-150s with the military-grade aluminum body. The Lightning, however, has upgraded frame support and improved stability that comes from a low center of gravity and independent rear suspension. The dual in-board motors and battery are shielded with full-length metal skid plates for underbody protection.
Lucas Cooney of Off-Road.com in F-150 Lightning Electric Truck: Everything We Know, writes, "…the F-150 Lightning comes with a 4x4 system featuring four selectable drives modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road and Tow/Haul." The Lightning also has a direct drive transmission with a state-of-the art liquid cooling system "that expertly manages heat distribution across the vehicle."
The Lightning is also equipped with an electronic-locking rear differential, hill descent control, full- and all-terrain tires. The Inside EVs article, "Ford F-150 Lightning Test Ride: Best-Selling Pickup Goes Electric," by Jordan Schiefer (published by Eric Loveday) conveys that, "The F-150 Lightning is very off-road ready…."
Available Towing and Hauling Electronics
Ford engineered the F-150 Lightning with smart electronics to make towing easier than ever before. Available Lightning towing assistance packages include Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, Smart Hitch, Pro Trailer Backup Assist, Trailer Reverse Guidance, and Onboard Scales.
Pro Trailer Hitch automatically controls the pickup steering wheel, throttle and braking to align the hitch ball and trailer coupler. The driver holds down a button and controls the gears until the coupler and ball are aligned. An alert helps to ensure the coupler clears the hitch ball. Smart Hitch can then measure the tongue weight and provide guidance for hitch overloading and weight distribution on the center dash screen or FordPass App. The truck indicates if the hitch weight is too low or high and provides guidance for tensioning the hitch.
The Pro Trailer Backup Assist features a control knob that the driver rotates in the direction the trailer should go. Pro Trailer Backup Assist responds accordingly to back the trailer in the desired direction. Extra assistance can be provided with the Trailer Reverse Guidance system by enhancing the visibility with cameras in the side view mirrors. Visual guides in the center screen also provide a clear view of the trailer direction.
With available Onboard Scales technology, the payload weight can be measured based on the specific capability of the F-150 Lightning. The actual payload weight can be displayed on a mobile phone using FordPass or on the truck's touchscreen. Using the Scale mode, the system zeros out the current load and allows for weighing additional items loaded in the bed.
Future Impact on Fuel Savings
The Consumer Reports article, Ford F-150 Lightning EV Has a 300-Mile Range and Could Power Your Home by Jeff S. Bartlett, emphasizes, "The stakes are high for the F-150 Lightning, not only for Ford but also for the environmental movement. If Ford could transition even a small number of its many F-150 customers a year into electric vehicles, the collective fuel savings would be significant."
Consumer Reports driving tests show the F-150 crew-cab 4WD with the 2.7-liter V6 averages better than 19 mpg overall. Consumer Reports suggest the typical owner drives about 12,000 miles, which means that an F-150 truck typically consumes about 645 gallons annually. If 400,000 F-150 truck owners—roughly half of the F-Series trucks sold by Ford annually—switched to the F-150 Lightning, 258 million gallons of gasoline could be saved per year. The author concludes, "The fuel-economy benefits of moving the F-150 from gas to electric far outshine changes to any other single model on the market because of its massive sales volume and relatively modest fuel economy (compared with cars and most SUVs)."
Ford also estimates scheduled maintenance costs for the F-150 Lightning will be more than 40 percent less than the average recommended maintenance costs for a gas-powered 2.7L EcoBoost F-150 over 8 years/100,000 miles (whichever comes first). This analysis reflects Ford Motor Company's standard method for calculating scheduled owner's manual maintenance costs, as reflected in 2020 data.
As a result, the Ford Protect Extended Service Plans for the all-electric F-150 Lighting, like the Mach-E Mustang, will cost much less than a gas or diesel model service contract. Check this out for yourself by using Zeigler Auto Group's Quick Quote Calculator and see the cost differences between gas-operated F-150 or Mustang quotes and comparison quotes for the new all-electric F-150 Lightning or Mach-E Mustang, respectively.