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Lightning Strikes Twice: Ford’s all-electric F-150 is a match for its go-faster ancestor

Ford’s “Lightning” nameplate is not new. It was used back in the early 2000s, and came to fame 2003. The F-150 that wore it then boasted a brawny 5.4-litre supercharged V8 under the hood, and was named the World’s Fastest Pickup by Guinness World Records.

That was then. Today it is an all-electric ride. The question is, can this electrified Lightning keep up with the original’s reputation?

Lightning will be offered two ways. The regular battery brings a driving range of around 370 km. The extended-range unit ups that to a more-realistic 483 km. To ensure the driver gets an accurate overview of the driving range available, a computer looks at everything, from a built-in scale that estimates the payload and how much is being hauled; to the driving conditions. After crunching all this information, it arrives at a real-world driving range.

Punching a destination into the navigation system uses the same information to arrive at the best route, and it recommends charging stops if the final destination is beyond the battery’s range. The good news is for those on the go, a DC fast-charging station can put an 80-per-cent charge into the battery in 41 minutes, so the trip interruption is minimal.

Another of the neat features is the ability to back-feed the extended-range battery’s electrons into a house in the event of a power outage. A fully-charged battery has the potential to deliver 9.6 kilowatts of power and it can do so for up to three days. Down the road, the Lightning will be able to power the house during high-cost peak hours while taking advantage of low-cost overnight rates to charge the vehicle in time for the morning commute.

On the flip side, for the workman on the go, the battery can be used to power everything from tools, TVs, and laptops; to a crock-pot for a meal on the move. Again, the extended-range battery offers 9.6 kW of power and no fewer than 10 120-volt outlets, plus a 240V outlet in the bed. The latter can power a welder!

Being electric does not put a crimp in the versatility or pickup ability. The Lightning is based on the four-door SuperCrew with a 5-foot-5 bed. It’s rated for a payload of up to 907 kilograms. The plus is found in a trunk under the hood (or, as Ford calls it, a “frunk”). It can hold up to 400 litres of stuff, enough for two full-sized sets of golf clubs. Likewise, the towing ability rivals that of the regular gas-powered F-150 — when properly equipped, the Lightning can tow up to 4,536-kilograms.

There will be no shortage of performance, as the Lightning features two electric motors. The standard battery delivers 426 horsepower; the extended-range unit ups that to 563 hp. Both versions kick out a tire-shredding 775 pound-feet of torque. The beauty is peak torque turns up pretty much from rev one, so the pop off the line promises to be, well, electrifying.

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The other plus is having one electric motor driving each axle adds an all-wheel-drive extension. This aspect works on-road while adding some off-road ability. To that end, it has an off-road driving mode along with Normal, Sport, and a Tow/Haul mode for when it’s time to work. To protect the battery and motors there is a full skid plate capable of holding almost 3,000 kg.

All of this also spells speed. The run to 96 km/h comes in at around 4.5 seconds. To put that into perspective, the 2003 supercharged SVT F-150 Lightning took 5.2 seconds. Likewise, the handling promises to be sharp for two reasons. First, the battery’s placement in the protected area between the frame rails means Lightning has a low centre of gravity. More importantly, it is the first F-150 to get a fully independent rear suspension — it has semi-trailing lower arms, coil springs and an anti-roll bar.

Inside, there is more high-tech gear available. The lower models get a 12-inch touchscreen that works with Sync4; the higher models earn a 15.5-inch touchscreen that works with Sync 4A. Both systems have navigation and support Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. The infotainment setup is mirrored in a 12-inch instrument cluster that’s customizable. The smarts even allow a phone to double as the ignition key, letting the owner access and start the Lightning via an app.

Safety is also along for the ride. Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 is standard and includes everything from auto-emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring; to lane-keep assist. The mid-model adds intelligent adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane centering, evasive steering assist and intersection assist. The top Platinum model will also have BlueCruise. This smart-cruise system delivers hands-free driving on more than 160,000 km of divided highway in Canada and the United States.


The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning prototype

Graeme Fletcher

All of this goes to show lightning can strike twice — the all-electric F-150 is more than worthy of wearing the go-faster nameplate. The early entry of peak torque says “fast”; the rest of the numbers say “capable.” It promises to be a very interesting First Drive once we get our hands on one.

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is arriving in the spring of next year. For those eager to get in on the all-electric action, a $100 deposit (left at Ford.ca) puts you on the wait list. Pricing and full specifications will be announced closer to launch.

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