Ford’s follow up to the Mach-E is F150 Lightning and if you didn’t think Ford were serious about EVs, think again. While the official unveil won’t happen until 11:30AM AEST, there has been a lot of details already leak online, also helped by President Biden riding in the unreleased truck yesterday.
If we forget about the Focus Electric and talk about this generation of electric vehicles, the 117-year-old company controversially used their performance band Mustang to brand the Mach-E and are now tackling their biggest seller, the F-Series trucks.
In Q1 20221, Ford sold 203,797 F-series trucks, led by the F-150. By introducing the F150 Lightning, Ford, as one of the big legacy auto manufacturers is getting serious about this transition away from their cash cow. Ford sold 521,334 vehicles in the first quarter of this year, more than Tesla sold for the entire 2020 year, but there’s a lot to play out in this transition to EVs.
Announced the product is one thing, shipping it is another and monitoring consumer demand will be the big indicator as to how keen Ford fans are to make the move.
The design of the F150 Lightning is certainly more conservatives than some of the competition, no doubt in an attempt to appeal to the biggest possible audience, without being controversial with a radical new design.
There will be no mistaking the F150 Lightning on the road, with a large light bar that looks like an moustache, wrapping the bold front grill. The front is bold and flat, a familiar design attribute to Ford trucks, but that’s not particularly conducive to the aerodynamic efficiency.
Another strange decision is the inclusion of fixed door handles, rather than the now standard flush door handles that also avoid aid disturbance as it passes down the side of the vehicle, creating drag, the enemy of range.
It seems we also have the F-150 Lightning will continue the vertical screen with integrated hardware volume dial of the Mach-E, not necessary, but not unexpected they’d continue with it.
While looks are important to the buying decision, many truck buyers purchase a truck because of the utility it provides in both storage and payload, as well as towing capacity.
It seems Ford are throwing a big battery at the problem, rather than make the difficult design decisions to optimise for range. The F-150 Lightning is expected to get between 230-300 miles, which in the real world, will be far less, particularly when under load.
I think it’s important that the EV version of the F150 is more capable, not less, than existing offerings. In acceleration, it certainly will be, but almost every other performance metric, it seems like there will be compromises.
Officially we don’t have 0-60mph (or 0-100km/hr) times, but it is expected to be somewhere in the 4-4.5 second range.
Price and Availability
The F-150 Lightning starts at US$39,974 and is set to hit US dealerships in mid-2022. As for when we’ll see the F150 in Australia, that remains a hot topic and Ford are yet to announce a release date.
ICE vs EV
Ford’s big challenge here is twofold. For those owners who’ve decided their next vehicle purchase will be electric, can they retain F-Series buyers, or will the be tempted by more radical approaches by competitors.
The second big challenge is to convince the dedicated ICE lovers that moving to ICE is a better vehicle, while not canibilising their own sales. Inevitably this has to occur to be successful in Ford’s EV efforts, but the transition will need to occur slowly, over the next decade, for Ford’s manufacturing and parts suppliers to follow along.
Possibly the biggest challenge Ford (and other legacy auto) has is the dealership model. In a world where direct online sales to customers is rapidly becoming the norm, the requirement for so many dealerships is far less. The service side of the business will also fundamentally change as these new EV models simply require much less servicing, with many less moving and serviceable parts (one of the best attributes for owners).
Ford vs the competition
There’s really two serious players coming to market, Tesla’s Cybertruck and Rivian’s R1T, both very capable, competitive electric truck offerings. The designs are far more controversial than the F150 lightning, but that could be a draw card for those wanting to stand out from the crowd.
It’s the capabilities of performance, towing and storage that are also very different offerings in the Tesla and Rivian, however, there’s are other components to this decision making and that’s technology, autonomy and recharging networks.
By comparison, the Tesla’s Cybertruck offers up to 500+ miles, 14,000 pound towing capacity and <2.9s 0-60 times.
The Rivian R1T offers 300+ miles of range (400+ mile variant is coming), 11,000 pounds of towing capacity and 0-60mph time of 3 seconds.
You can watch the official unveiling at 11:30am (AEST) below. Let’s hope there’s some surprises, like a special Raptor edition.