While Ford is now moving rapidly to electrify its car and light commercial vehicle lines, it is certainly not an area in which the US giant has taken the lead over the last decade. That said, if the E-Transit can deliver on the promises that have been made, it has the potential to change the way in which many van users operate.
In the company’s home market of North America, things have moved relatively slowly. The firm’s F-150 pick-up has been the best-selling vehicle of any kind in the US for decades, yet it doesn’t even have a diesel version. America’s love affair with large capacity petrol engines, thanks to relatively cheap fuel supplies, continues.
So, for Ford to launch an electric pick-up, the F-150 Lightning, is a potentially seismic move. To have any hope of selling in the numbers that its development requires, the F-150 Lightning doesn’t just have to match the performance and productivity of its petrol-powered stablemates, it has to take the business and domestic truck market to a whole new level.
It can’t just succeed on the Toyota Prius and Tesla dominated streets of Californian cities. It has to work in the cornfields of America’s Mid-West, in the oil fields of Texas and in the Appalachian and Rocky mountains.
“For both Ford and the American auto industry, F-150 Lightning represents a defining moment, as we progress towards a zero-emissions, digitally connected future,” said Bill Ford, executive chair of Ford Motor Company, at the truck’s unveiling in May.
“F-Series has been America’s best-selling truck for 44 years, it is the backbone of work across the country and a trusted icon for generations of customers. Now we are revolutionising it for a new generation.”
The truck is powered by dual eMotors, for the front and rear axles, to provide four-wheel drive. The standard battery model puts out a healthy 426hp, while the extended battery version delivers a crushing 563hp. In both cases the peak torque output is an incredible 1,051Nm. Of course, the F-150 Lightning is somewhat larger than your standard UK pick-up, offering a maximum payload of 907kg and a towing capacity of up to 4.5-tonnes.
Actual battery capacity hasn’t been revealed yet, but the best guess is somewhere between 115-125kWh. Ford is promising a driving range of up to 230 miles on the standard battery and 300 miles for the extended model. More than that, the company is to offer a range of Pro Power Onboard options, already seen on the E-Transit. This would allow on-site workers to operate a range of electrical tools using up to 9.6kW of power from 21 outlets around the truck. Indeed, if your house is capable of working with the battery system, Ford claims it could even be possible to power a typical home during an electrical blackout for up to three days.
With the driveline mounted below the body, the engine compartment is turned into a 400-litre secure front storage area, what the Americans call a ‘frunk’ (front trunk), increasing carrying capacity.
The trucks will come with twin on-board chargers, capable of working with a range of charging options. A standard 32A home charger will take 14 hours to completely fill the standard model, or 19 hours for the extended, while a 150kW rapid charger will deliver 80% of charge in just 44 minutes, or 41 minutes for the extended model.
The trucks will have the option of onboard weighing systems, to help calculate available driving range. The interior is also dominated by a massive 15.5” touchscreen and a digital dash, with over the air upgrades available to keep software up to date.
As mentioned, the F-150 Lightning is not destined for these shores, it is simply too big for European use. However, as an indication of Ford’s EV intent, the truck couldn’t be a clearer marker in the sand. We certainly wouldn’t bet against an all-electric Ranger in the future.