The Lightning may change people’s minds about electric vehicles
The all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck has won yet another award. The Lightning is the North American Truck of the Year. This is part of the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year program founded in 1994, making it the longest-running new vehicle award not associated with a single publication. Judges are 50 professional automotive journalists from a variety of print, online, radio and TV outlets in Canada and the U.S.
The Lightning has collected lots of prestigious honours, including Motor Trend Truck of the Year, Detroit Free Press Truck of the Year, TIME Top 200 Invention of 2022, 2023 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award, and several others.
To win the North American Truck of the Year, vehicles must be new or substantially changed for the year. The judges choose a winner based on such elements as innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, user experience, driver satisfaction and value.
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The significance of yet another award – especially a major one like this – is that because the F-150 has been a top-selling vehicle for decades in North America, the move to all-electrics is moving from the fringe to the mainstream.
As one juror and freelance journalist for Forbes, Karl Brauer, puts it, “When America’s best-selling vehicle goes electric, you know the transition has momentum.”
Ford of Canada says the standard battery is good for 370 km, and the extended range battery can go 515 km. However, Ford also says the actual range varies with such conditions as external environment (think Canadian winter), vehicle use, vehicle maintenance, and lithium ion battery state of health. This isn’t the vehicle for cross-country trips if you like to make time and drive from dawn to dusk – unless you can plan out your stops to get recharged every few hours.
For those who want a truck to go long distances without having to stop to recharge, I suggest the hybrid F-150, which has both a gas engine and an electric motor.
The Lightning is ideal for someone who needs a full-size pickup in the city who isn’t going more than about 370 km a day and can plug it in to recharge it overnight.
I recently test-drove a Ford F-150 Lightning 4×4 Super Crew (wheelbase: 3,683 mm, or 145 in) with the extended range battery. Settling into the driver’s seat, it felt just like any other F-150, which is something of a surprise, because most electric vehicles like to draw attention to themselves by signalling that they are different from their gas cousins. The F-150 Lightning goes out of its way to be like the gas versions (except for a light bar that stretches right across the top of the grille and then comes down on both sides.) But when you start driving, there are two very obvious differences from the gas version: a very quiet ride and an extremely quick acceleration.
My test vehicle had a base price of $80,000, with options that came to $18,940. Among the options were towing technology package, integrated trailer brake control, twin panel moon roof, dark gray wheels and bedliner spray. Add on the destination and delivery, and the final price was $101,035.
Unlike gas and hybrid F-150s, the Lightning has extra storage up front because there’s no engine under the hood. Instead, it’s a large trunk – or as some call it, a frunk – that has a capacity of 400 litres.
There are also power outlets in the rear bed, ideal for using power tools or anything else that needs a conventional household outlet. This beats hauling a generator. There’s also an optional package that allows power from the Lighting to power your home in the case of a power failure. Ford says the system can provide an average home with power for up to three days, depending on usage.
The most significant element of the Lightning is how it may change people’s attitudes about electric vehicles. With its long history of broad appeal and huge sales, the Lightning may go far in changing how people think about electric vehicles. More people will realize that having an all-electric vehicle doesn’t mean driving something rare and largely unknown but something commonplace.
Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. While the manufacturer provided Dale with a vehicle to test drive, the content of this review was not reviewed or accepted by the manufacturer.
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