DRIVING: Ford F-150 Lightning

The Detroit auto show announces America’s best annual automotive achievements and big news coming from the country. CAR Magazine editor Damian Adams got a conclusive insight into Ford’s future-proof facilities and even took the F-150 Lightning for a ride around the state. Here are his thoughts on electrified bakkies.

Image: Ford

DETROIT — The Ford F-150 Lightning is a far cry from what we know of electric vehicles, especially compared to the all-electric cars already on sale here at Mzansi. The big difference is that it’s a big bakkie (or full-size pickup truck) for the ‘Merica market and could arguably be the most important vehicle of the 21st century setting the tone for the future. of America’s most popular bakkie.

The sentiment behind its design is simple: it should feel, look and perform like it’s your regular F-150, America’s best-selling bakkie for the past 45 years (based on sales 1977-2021). This Lightning model certainly looks like piston siblings to the untrained eye, and it happens to be powered exclusively by an electric powertrain and aims to tick all the boxes an F-150 owner might have. So clearly the challenge is that this car is aiming to change the perception of electric vehicles across America, and if it’s successful it could well set off a wildfire that could spread to other areas of Ford as well. than other manufacturers around the world.

Lightning F-150
Image: Ford

Ford CEO Jim Farley called the Ford F-150 Lightning a “Model T” moment, the vehicle that revolutionized mass production. “The Model T changed the world not because it was beautiful or elegant, but because it was ingenious. Our customers have found ways to use the Model T for all kinds of things that no one foresaw. at the time, like school buses and ambulances. Some enterprising people took the rear off to make the world’s first pickup trucks. With the F-150 Lightning, I think Ford is tapping into the same spirit of innovation that has powered the early models my grandfather worked in. On first impressions after a 50-minute drive through the countryside not far from where the F-150 is built in Dearborn, Jim might be right.

If the $47,000 all-electric Lightning Pro were to go on sale here right now, it would be priced well below the R900,000 mark on a direct Dollar-Rand trade at R18.00. That figure seems ridiculous for a vehicle with a curb weight of 2,728kg, which will hit 100km/h from a standstill in a claimed 4.5 seconds and is packed with modern touches under the skin like an aluminum body and filler. bay, independent double-wishbone front suspension and independent swingarm rear.

Maneuverability isn’t the strong point of a bakkie or nearly three-ton vehicle, but the Lightning proved easy-going and stress-free on both congested city streets and back roads. open. The Lightning’s one-pedal drive was intuitive, predictable, and powerful enough to come to a complete stop without using the mechanical brakes. With a gargantuan 1,050 Nm in the blink of an eye, the giant wave of power is just a jolt from your right foot. The Lightning is brutally quick and pins occupants to their seats under hard acceleration.

The fully independent suspension, near ideal weight balance and low center of gravity are due to the large battery located in the floor between the wheels, the Lightning is without a doubt the best performing bakkie I have driven. Sure, it’s huge by our standards, but it felt just as oddly smooth and quiet to drive as any EV I’ve experienced. The double-glazed glass and the rolls of sound-absorbing material undoubtedly contribute to creating a cozy interior atmosphere.

Inside, high-definition screens dominate the space and house a variety of in-car tech features using Fords Sync 4A system. The next Ranger’s Sync 4 (read all about it here) and 4A are 99% identical in look and function, the big difference here is that in the Lightning and Mach-E for that matter the control settings of air conditioning are operated in the touch screen.

Lightning F-150
Image: Ford

Higher-end models feature a massive 15.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as well as a 12.0-inch driver display while the base Pro model has a unit of 8.0 inches still substantial. I had the opportunity to try the “BlueCruise” autonomous driving system which allows hands-free driving. The system worked well for the brief time I used it on the road and steered the bakkie between the lines while adjusting the brakes and throttle imperceptibly.

Lightning F-150
Image: Ford

The F-150 Lightning has, among other impressive features (which require a dissertation of words to delve into), a “Backup Power” system, which efficiently uses the large battery to turn into a power source for your home or campsite. Something that would come in handy for us in the fight against Eskom and Tier 6 load shedding. Here up to 9.6kW of power can be offloaded from the vehicle to keep lights, appliances and more operational.

Ford has unprecedented demand for the F-150 Lightning with 200,000 reservations and is expanding the Rouge plant where it is built to increase production to a planned 150,000 units by the end of June 2023. The Blue Oval has invested a total of $950 million and created 750 plant jobs with 1,700 jobs created at five Ford plants across the state of Michigan, including the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, where Lightning electric motors, transmissions and the electrical transaxles are assembled.

Lightning F-150
Image: Ford

Given the immense popularity of pickups in America and bakkies in South Africa, it’s hard to understate how crucial it is for Ford to score a home run with the electric F-150. After a road trip, a factory tour and a walk with Linda Zhang, chief vehicle program engineer, it looks like Ford has hit the nail on the head and built not only an innovative pickup truck that also happens to be an excellent electric vehicle, but has beaten its main rivals and the order book reflects this. An electric bakkie for South Africa may be years away, but if the Lightning is anything to go by, the future certainly looks bright.

Model: Ford F-150 Lightning Pro

Transmission: Two electric motors, four-wheel drive

Power: 337 kW (433 kW with long life battery)

Couple : 1050Nm

0-100km/h: 4.5 seconds

Top speed: N / A

Battery capacity: 98 kWh (433 kW with long life battery)

Front trunk capacity: 400L

Towing capacity: 2,268 kg (4,500 kg with long life battery and max tow package on XLT/Lariat)

Ground clearance : 213 millimeters

Interval: 370 km (515 km with long life battery)

Rivals: Rivian R1T, Hummer EV, Tesla Cyber ​​Truck non-existent

If you could buy an F-150 converted to right-hand drive, would you? We’d love to hear your thoughts at [email protected]. This F-150 Lightning drive is just part of what we saw and experienced in Detroit with Ford, whose main attraction was the reveal of the seventh-generation Mustang. Stay tuned for further updates.

Robert M. Larson