Ford’s F-Series pickups have been around for over 70 years, with over 40 million sold in that time – mostly in the US domestic market. It never went on sale in the UK, but the arrival of an all-electric version marks an important milestone in the transition to zero-emissions cars.
However, the F-150 Lightning isn’t the only contender in the electric pickup class. The Rivian R1T and Hummer EV are already on sale in the US, with the Chevrolet Silverado EV and Tesla Cybertruck following.
According to the US EPA’s test cycle, which is slightly different from the WLTP system we use in Europe, F-150 Lightnings equipped with a standard range 98 kWh battery can travel up to 240 miles on a single charge. But if you opt for the range-extended 131 kWh unit, that jumps to 320 miles. Regardless of the battery, each model is equipped with a dual motor for four-wheel drive and a torque of more than 1050 Nm.
However, there are some differences in charging speed: the standard-range F-150 Lightning can charge up to 120 kW, which means it takes 44 minutes to charge from 15-80% on a fairly fast fast charger. However, the long-range version peaks at 155kW, so it only takes 41 minutes to top up the 131kWh battery to the same level.
The long-range model also boasts a towing capacity of 4.5 tons (10,000 pounds), compared to the F-150 Lightning’s standard range limit of 3.5 tons (7,700 pounds). But the standard versions have a slightly higher maximum payload capacity of 907kg, around 100kg more than the long-range model can carry. Fortunately, the truck’s 1.67m body has a scale that can determine the weight of the payload and adjust the Lightning’s range estimate on the dashboard accordingly.
Higher-spec Lightning models also feature Ford’s “BlueCruise” driving system, which can be activated on certain highway sections in the US and Canada. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, BlueCruise is completely hands-free, but can only be used on pre-programmed roads; there are already more than 130,000 miles of designated “hands-free zones” and more coming soon.
Due to its sheer size, we don’t expect the electric F-150 to come to Britain any time soon, but its technology could be transferred to the smaller Ford Ranger model, which is currently available in the UK with a diesel engine. If so, then the Ford Ranger Lightning will become a competitor to the Maxus T90EV pickup, which recently went on sale here.
Drive Ford F-150 Lightning UK
The Ford F-150 Lightning is undoubtedly one of the most important electric vehicles ever built. That’s certainly a bold claim, but when you consider the pickup’s unwavering popularity, the F-Series’ loyal fan base, and its potential to change the way many people think about electric vehicles, the significance of this zero-emissions pickup becomes clear. So, obviously, we wanted to experience it for ourselves.
As we said, Ford doesn’t sell the F-150 Lightning in the UK, but the Blue Oval was kind enough to bring one over to the UK so we could test drive it without having to make the long flight to Detroit. .
The F-150 Lightning’s styling is more restrained than the Rivian or Hummer it competes with, as the overall shape is almost identical to the regular V8-powered F-150. Full-width LED strips front and rear, along with a hidden grille and more aerodynamic wheels do hint that this is the EV version, but the familiar look should appeal to the F-150 fans the Lightning should win over. Sales are obviously working because Ford has 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning to date and is now taking no more.
The truck we drove was the top-of-the-line Platinum model with all the goodies, including a 131kWh extended-range battery and 555hp produced by two electric motors. That’s plenty, with a 0-62mph time in the mid-four-second range that you can use to stun any sports car driver you leave in the headlights in this three-tonne behemoth. However, even in normal mode, such power can make it difficult to drive the truck smoothly.
But the F-150 Lightning really impresses on the freeway. It’s a lot more refined than you’d expect from something so big, boxy and cool. Frankly, we’ve driven much smaller EVs that aren’t as quiet or adapted to high-speed traffic as this slab-sided electric pickup.
And for a truck with the aerodynamics of a London bus, it’s hard to fault its efficiency either. On a daily basis, you’ll likely see the F-150 Lightning return about two miles per kWh, which equates to a real-world range of at least 260 miles for our 131 kWh model. But on a short jaunt through the UK capital, the truck returned to nearly 4mph, which is family electric car territory.
We’ll say that cramped European cities aren’t the best environment for the F-150 Lightning, because you’re acutely aware of how huge it is. The F-150 Lightning at least offers much better ride comfort and is generally more responsive on the road than previous generations of Ford F-series trucks, thanks in part to a new independent suspension system — a first for a full-size pickup truck — but it’ll still be a little bouncy when there will be nothing in the bed.
The wealth of technology in the cabin also helps when you put a lot of miles on the F-150 Lightning. In our top-of-the-line Platinum model, which included a 12-inch digital driver display behind the wheel paired with the 15.5-inch center touchscreen of the Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV. Less expensive models get a slightly smaller 12-inch unit. The overall cabin design isn’t all that different from the regular V8-powered F-150, but that should prevent the truck from feeling like a target audience. At the same time, there is a huge space for passengers in the back.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the range, unfortunately the quality of materials is a bit more mixed. Many of the materials used in the interior appear to be durable, which isn’t bad for such a workhorse, but we did notice that some of the leather trim on the seats or gear shifter didn’t shine until after 5,000 miles.
Other truck tricks? Since there is no engine, customers are rewarded with a 400-litre ‘Franc’ under the hood – that’s more than the boot in the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback. In addition, integrated electrical outlets in both the body and trunk allow you to power tools and other equipment from the truck’s battery, and bi-directional charging means you can charge another EV or even power your home in an emergency.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike the Rivian R1T or Hummer EV, the Lightning range has a more affordable, commercial version called the Pro, priced at $51,974 (around £45,000) before tax credits. That’s five thousand pounds less than the asking price of the Chinese-built Maxus T90EV, and for that you get a longer range, Ford’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 safety system and driver assistance system. In addition, on-board scales, fast charging capabilities, a 12-inch central infotainment touchscreen and Pro Power Onboard feature for power tools and other equipment.
It’s quite a truck for the money, but if you were to go for the top-of-the-line Platinum like ours, it’d set you back at least $96,874 (around £84,000). Although in the world of electric pickups, that’s not the craziest price tag we’ve seen.