In the United States, the pick-up truck is a true institution, just like football or Coors beer. There isn’t a single American manufacturer that doesn’t offer a pick-up in its lineup. Even Nissan with the Titan and Toyota with the Tundra followed suit. The latter also marked certain spirits when in September 2012, a Tundra was seen towing the 136-ton American Space Shuttle. enterprise.
Some of the most iconic American pickup trucks include the Dodge Ram, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado, and of course the king of the category, the Ford F150. All have in common having V6 and V8 gasoline engines, including a diesel for the GMC Sierra 3500 HD.
But at a time when climate issues have become a global priority, this type of vehicle seems anachronistic, except perhaps to be electric. If for some it is heresy, the pragmatism of the issues prevails. It remains to be seen who would dare this electric seedling first.
Finally, Ford was the first to tie with its F150, the best-selling pickup in the United States. After a brief collaboration and a $500 million investment in Rivian, Ford decided to go it alone with the F150 Lightning, the Blue Oval’s first all-wheel drive electric pickup. The manufacturer has undoubtedly hit the mark, as two days after pre-orders opened in May 2021, 44,500 potential customers paid a deposit.
In the absence of traveling through the great plains of the American West behind the wheel of this F150 Lightning, it is at the UTAC-Ceram circuit in Mortefontaine, in the Oise, that Ford France gave us a meeting, from the potron-twink. Unfortunately, the time allowed for this tightening does not allow us to carry out a test. Therefore, we only inform our first contact.
Undoubtedly possible, the F150 Lightning, in Lariat finish, exudes (a little too much?) testosterone, like its thermal equivalent.
Just look at the massive, square and full grille to feel all the bestiality of the machine with outsized dimensions. The latter is softened by a belt of LEDs. Since we’re talking about the grille, once open, the engine hood gives way to a huge storage space – or weird — with a capacity of about 400 litres. In addition to charging cables, you can easily store bags or even hide… a human being. Note that this front trunk has an internal opening, precisely to avoid kidnappings…
At 5.91 meters long, 2.44 meters wide (including outside mirrors) and 1.99 meters high, the Ford is a gundam for our European roads. Once the massive door is open, you must grab the top handle to climb aboard, where comfortable seats welcome you. Ditto in the rear where the three passengers, especially the one in the middle, benefit from enormous legroom thanks to the disappearance of the transmission tunnel.
Despite an elevated position, the driver’s station looks like any current sedan with a multifunctional steering wheel (17 controls), a 12-inch instrument panel and a 12-inch or 15.5-inch vertical center touchscreen, depending on the chosen finish. (Pro, XLT , Lariat or Premium). Note that said screen, equipped with the built-in Sync 4 operating system, is identical to the one on the Ford Mach-e.
Based on its pickup experience, Ford has punctuated its F150 Lightning with little gadgets like the motorized gearshift (automatic gearbox) that folds down to allow the center armrest shelf to deploy. Very useful for writing. Another trick, still at the lever level, is a command called Car Wash, which once activated puts the F150 Lightning in Neutral position for 30 minutes. In fact, in the United States, washing stations are motorized and vehicles slide along the washing steps. Next to the steering wheel, there is also a swivel wheel that helps guide you when you want to tow a trailer.
Dropside with step and climbing aid
Of course, the other attraction of this electric pick-up is its tipper which can support up to 907 kg of payload. The towing capacity is 4,535 tons. Please note that the front and rear tow hooks support up to 7 tons.
To climb into the bucket with a capacity of 1495 liters, simply lower – through a dedicated control – the side panel that contains a removable step accompanied by a retractable support.
This tipper, which has fixings, also incorporates electrical outlets, the F150 Lightning can also be transformed into a generator. Depending on the version, the pick-up will offer between 6 and 10 electrical outlets, with power varying between 2.4 kW and 9.6 kW.
For the record, Lightning can power an isolated cabin for four days. Also, like Tesla, many YouTube videos show how efficient the Ford is when you plug it in. Thus, the website Out of Spec Reviews showed that it is possible to recharge up to five electric vehicles thanks to the Ford.
98 or 131 kWh battery
But the main element of this F150 Lightning remains its engine based on a twin electric motor that develops 433 kW (588 hp, torque of 1050 Nm) powered by a 131 kWh battery (useful capacity). But you can opt for a “smaller” 337 kW electric motor (453 hp, 1050 Nm of torque) with the 98 kWh battery pack.
As for autonomy, it varies from 370 km (small battery) to 515 km (large battery). These are data measured according to the US EPA cycle, very close to our European WLTP cycle. Given the aerodynamics of this cabinet worthy of a “tackle”, offensive striker in American football, unfortunately it is not certain that the autonomy is that high.
On the other hand, on the loading side, you will have to face your problems patiently. In fact, the F150 Lightning goes from 15 to 80% in 91 minutes through a 50 kW terminal versus 44 minutes with a 150 kW terminal to the 98 kWh battery. The 131 kWh battery requires 122 minutes (50 kW) and 41 minutes (150 kW), respectively.
From a 32 A outlet, it takes between 13 and 19 hours to go from 15 to 100%.
A muscle car with legs that sends sauce
It’s time to own this big, intimidating toy. Here, no V6 or V8 noise. Pressing the power button and the instrument panel lights up like a Christmas tree to let us know we can leave. We engage the massive gearshift and the F150 Lightning snorts in silence disturbed by the chirping of birds from the surrounding forest.
If, at first, we remain measured by size, very quickly the urge to press the mushroom itches. The F150 reacts instantly to the slightest touch of the throttle. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the F150 Lightning has a Sport mode that catapults it despite its bulk.
Driving is nothing like a truck, as the steering is reduced, allowing you to turn the steering wheel with just one finger. On the braking side, there’s nothing to complain about, as the bite is there. Regenerative braking in mode a pedalallowing the throttle to act as a brake when released is just as effective as it comes to a complete stop.
As for the dampers, the F150 Lightning has independent suspensions with helical dampers at the front and rear. As a result, on an intentionally bumpy portion, the damping is very flexible. On curves made at high speeds, roll is noticeable, but the orientation of the trains remains consistent. Especially since a number of driving aids are available. It remains to be seen, however, how it behaves loaded on a wet road…
Unable to test drive the Ford in off-road mode, we fell down a rather steep concrete climb that the F150 Lightning did a quick job of. The huge hood obviously blocks the view at the top, but a 360° camera helps guide the ride.
Co-Pilot360 at work
The F150 Lightning benefits from Co-Pilot360, a suite of steering aids as thick as a Wendy’s hamburger but less harmful to the body. Thus, the pick-up is lined with ultrasonic sensors, radars and cameras allowing it to benefit from adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping, parking assistant (indispensable!), descent control on steep slopes (Hill Descent Control), surveillance alert, collision avoidance, 180° rear camera, etc.
An entry ticket under $40,000
While it’s an SUV at its core, the Ford F150 Lightning knows how to be gentle on the road. In the US, the Ford F150 Lightning is available from $39,974 (Pro finish) to $90,874 (Premium finish). Our Lariat version starts at $67,474.
It remains to be seen whether such a machine, as electric as it is, would have a place on our roads. Given the monster’s size, mass, and the energy employed to move it forward, some would be tempted to think not. Ford is considering suiting the F150 Lightning in Europe. The Mustang’s success on the Old Continent should give some ideas… The only imperative is to open other production lines. Currently, there are almost 200,000 pre-orders pending.