The original Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, sold over two generations with sport-truck styling and improved performance, has attained legendary status since it left production in 2004.
Keen to capture some of that magic for its newest pickup offering, Ford has taken the wraps off the 2022 F-150 Lightning EV, which trades its namesake’s huge V8 for an all-electric powertrain that offers up to 300 miles of range, with a starting price of $39,974. There are no plans to export to the UK.
As we saw at President Biden’s press conference yesterday, the 2022 Lightning maintains the same basic styling as its F-150 twin, with two different floor-mounted battery packs. A standard-range battery (SR) goes 230 miles between charges, while the extended-range unit (ER) hits 300 miles. In both cases, the batteries send power to a front- and rear-mounted electric motor, putting out a combined 426 bhp (318 kilowatts) in the SR, with the ER getting 563 bhp (420 kW). Both configurations make 775 pound-feet (1,051 newton-metres). And if that ain’t enough, the Lightning can power your home in a blackout for three days.
Sport Truck Redux
The use of the vaunted Lightning name for an EV will likely be met with some controversy, much like there was after Ford announced the Mach-E would be a Mustang. After all, the original two generations were avowed sport trucks designed more for on-road performance than traditional capability, with lowered and stiffened suspensions, rear-wheel drive, and powerful V8s driving the point home. Instead of that formula, the new Lightning will adopt a traditional stance similar to that of the regular F-150, and obviously, the supercharged V8 of the old model will be left out of the mix. However, that doesn’t mean the EV won’t be fun to drive.
All modern Lightnings will be all-wheel drive, with an independent rear suspension making its first appearance on an F-150.
With more power and torque than any factory-built F-150 in history, the ER should hit 60 miles per hour in about 4.5 seconds, according to Ford. That would make it the fastest pickup on the market today (until the Tesla Cybertruck and GMC Hummer EV arrive). Unlike the old SVT truck, all modern Lightnings will be all-wheel drive, with an independent rear suspension making its first appearance on an F-150. Coupled with a low centre of gravity – those big battery cells are packaged under the passenger cabin floor – the revised suspension could make the 2022 Lightning as impressive around an autocross as it is on the drag strip.
Helping preserve performance is a liquid cooling system that keeps battery temperatures optimised and healthy. A metal exoskeleton houses the battery cells, which are mounted within the F-150’s frame rails for strength and protection from deformation. A robust steel underbody plate further improves safety and cleans up aerodynamics somewhat. Meanwhile, the inboard-mounted electric motors and aluminium suspension components reduce unsprung mass and provide greater protection from obstacles than individual wheel-mounted motors would. That said, Ford is evaluating other powertrains, possibly including tri- or quad-motor designs.
It’s not just about performance in the Lightning, though. Models with the SR battery tow 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) in standard form or 7,700 pounds (3,493 kg) with an optional package, with a payload rating of 2,000 pounds (907 kg). The ER can lug up to 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg), although its payload is a bit lower at 1,850 (839 kg).
That’s likely because the Lightning’s F-150 platform has a maximum gross vehicle weight rating (representing combined vehicle weight and payload) of 7,150 pounds (3,243 kg), and the ER battery is almost certainly heavier than the SR. Using some back-of-the-napkin maths, we estimate the Ford Lightning to weigh between 5,100 and 5,300 pounds (2,313 and 2,404 kg) unladen.
Lightning In A Bottle
Recharging the F-150 Lightning will be the work of a standard mobile charger, the SR getting a 120-volt, 12-amp version that can add 3 miles of range per charging hour and the ER getting a 240V, 32-amp version that adds 21 miles per charging hour. A 48-amp home charging station for the SR can restore charge from 15 to 100 percent in 10 hours, while the ER’s 19.2-kilowatt home charging station does the deed in eight hours. As for fast charging, the F-150 Lightning will top out at 150 kW using a DC fast charging station, which is a bit slower than the newest EVs on the market but still gets you from 15 to 80 percent charge in 41 minutes.
Like the Mustang Mach-E, the Lightning uses the FordPass charging network, which Ford says is the largest in North America. A phone app also allows the driver to precondition the battery or schedule charging for off-peak times, and a real-time payload monitor within the infotainment system or phone app helps optimise the charging route based on vehicle load, trailer weight, weather conditions, terrain, and other variables.
Flash Of Genius
Lariat and Platinum trims of the 2022 Lightning will receive the same 15.5-inch touchscreen and Sync 4A infotainment as the Mustang Mach-E, which uses a flat interface to allow occupants to easily switch between functions. Recently used apps appear along the bottom of the screen, making it easier to swap between frequently used features – navigation and audio, for example. Sync 4A will also come with an embedded FordPass app, which syncs to the owner’s phone to provide vehicle functions like cooling or warming the interior, opening and closing the frunk, and the aforementioned charging commands and route planners.
The 2022 F-150 Lightning will also get a modem that can provide in-car Wi-Fi as well as perform over-the-air software updates to keep the infotainment and vehicle systems current and free of any bugs or glitches. Unsurprisingly, the forthcoming BlueCruise hands-free highway driving assistant will be available on the Lightning, with the truck taking over steering, braking, and acceleration on limited-access highways, reducing stress and fatigue on long trips.
The Lightning will also get the new F-150’s impressive Pro Power Onboard system, upsized from the gas truck’s maximum 7.2-kW output to a solid 9.6 kW. What’s so impressive is that if the truck is plugged into a home charger and the power goes out, electricity will automatically outflow from the truck to keep the house running until power is restored. The feature requires a home equipped with an AC-DC inverter and the optional Charge Station Pro home charger, but it’ll be helpful for folks in areas susceptible to extreme weather, powering a home for up to three days.
The EV’s Pro Power Onboard offers a single 240V and four 120V outlets in the bed, and the so-called Mega Power frunk will include four 120V outlets and two USB chargers. Speaking of, Ford says the frunk will be the largest in the industry, with a 400-pound (181 kg) load capacity and 14.1 cubic feet (399 litres) of storage space. A lidded bin in the floor keeps smaller items from sliding around, and the frunk itself is accessed via a large opening that encompasses the truck’s “grille,” making liftover easier. It’s also waterproof, with drain plugs in the floor that make it easy to clean out when hauling muddy or dirty gear.
Ford kept the Lightning’s styling relatively close to the F-150 with which it shares its basic structure, modernised a bit to match the truck’s futuristic powertrain. With no big radiator to feed up front, the grille of the F-150 has been converted to a slick, stylised blocking panel with mesh latticework appearing underneath a glossy surface.
The standard dynamic-bending headlights wear a shape similar to the current F-150, connected on some trims by an LED strip that runs along the top edge of the grille panel – a matching red light bar connects the taillights too. A charging outlet appears on the front fender, and the wheels get a new design.
Inside, changes are slightly more substantial, with an aforementioned 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen appearing on Lariat and Platinum in place of the horizontal 12.0-inch unit found on some trims of the F-150. That display will come standard on the Lightning’s base and XLT trims, running an infotainment package similar to that of the existing F-150 rather than the one on the Mustang Mach-E – it won’t sacrifice any of Sync 4A’s EV planning features, though. Every Lightning will also come with an all-digital instrument cluster on every trim, even base and commercial vehicles.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will be built at an all-new, EV-specific manufacturing facility at the company’s Rouge Complex, next to where the standard F-150 is built. The Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center will start producing the Lightning by mid-2022, and the manufacturing facility is part of a $700 million investment in the larger complex, which also builds the conventional F-Series truck.
Every F-150 EV will be a five-passenger SuperCrew with a 5.5-foot bed.
Furthering the Lightning’s green cred is the factory’s extensive use of recyclable and post-consumer materials. The concrete foundation, for example, was repurposed from demolition materials of the facility that used to sit on the property. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center also features a heating and ventilation system that uses air as the medium, cutting water use and waste. And much of the heavy machinery, like the forklifts, will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, slashing overall lifecycle emissions of the Lightning even more.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will start at just $39,974 in base SR form, and that’s before federal and state incentives come into play. As such, those who live in EV-friendly jurisdictions could take home an entry-level Lightning for about $30,000, which is an amazing deal for a four-wheel-drive full-size pickup. At the other end of the spectrum is the fully loaded Lighting ER Platinum, which Ford says will cost about $90,000, or about $10,000 less than the (reportedly weighty) GMC Hummer EV3X that should hit the market about a year from now, or $10,000 more than the base Hummer EV2 that arrives in 2024.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning will start at just $39,974 in base SR form, and that’s before federal and state incentives.
Tesla’s projected pricing for the Cybertruck is more in line with the F-150, starting at $39,900 in single-motor, rear-drive form or $49,900 for a dual-motor all-wheel-drive example. The tri-motor Cybertruck, which will reportedly hit 60 mph in less than three seconds, is $69,900. That vehicle is already hotly anticipated among EV enthusiasts, although the more conventional styling of the F-150 Lightning may appeal to average truck owners turned off by the Tesla’s sci-fi doorstop design.
The Lightning will be available in base, XLT, Lariat, and Platinum trims, helping serve a variety of customers, and every F-150 EV will be a five-passenger SuperCrew with a 5.5-foot (1.67 metres) bed. Fleets that switch to the base Lightning will appreciate lower costs of ownership – EVs are generally much less maintenance-intensive, remember – while the family-friendly equipment levels of the XLT should appeal to average shoppers on a budget. And the Lariat and Platinum trims should be able to satisfy more sybaritic consumers, possibly even replacing luxury SUVs and sedans in some garages.
The Ford F-150 Lightning goes on sale about a year from now, but reservations are open now. The Blue Oval asks for a refundable $100 deposit from those early adopters keen to be the first on their block with the newest EV, particularly one that boasts as much truck cred as the Lightning.