Ford apparently has no intention of being left behind in the EV race, and with the F-150 Lightning, the company has set down a marker for possibly the best all-electric pickup yet released.
The Ford F-150 pickup truck is North America's best-selling vehicle of all time, of any kind, thanks to its impressive combination of comfort, capability, and powerful driving feel. But the truck market is changing fast, matching its car and SUV counterparts by moving away from gas engines and into the all-electric future. Here are the key highlights of this electric upgrade of a favourite workhorse.
Battery, Driving Range, and Charging
The 2023 F-150 Lightning is available with two battery options, the standard 98.0-kWh model and a larger 131-kWh unit. With the first, the dual motors create a highly respectable 452 horsepower, up from the 2022 model's 426hp. This battery also provides a maximum range estimated at 368km, plenty enough for most daily driving needs, with an equivalent fuel economy of 76 MPGe in the city and 61 MPGe on the highway.
Moving to the larger battery pushes the ponies up to 580hp, an increase from the previous year's 563hp. It also boosts the range to 512km, and raises the fuel economy to 78 and 63 MPGe for city and highway respectively. Both batteries create a meaty 775lb-ft of torque, with the instant availability that's the hallmark of all-electric powertrains. In tests, the more powerful of the two Lightning models is able to race from 0-100km/h in less than five seconds, offering performance that's a match for any mainstream pickup.
As for charging, official Ford figures say that a 150KW DC fast charger can add up to 87km of range in just ten minutes, with the battery going from 15 to 80 percent in around 40 minutes. Of course, charging at home will take longer, but the optional 80-amp charging station available from Ford should make the process as efficient as possible.
Does the F-150 Lightning Have a Fuel Pump?
One potential drawback of the Lightning's powertrain is that it lacks a heat pump to warm the battery. This can potentially limit range when the weather turns cold, as battery efficiency takes a hit as the mercury drops. While this is unlikely to be a major problem for most drivers, it's something to bear in mind if your local climate often turns icy.
Payload and Towing Capacity
The Lightning's high torque naturally enough translates into some impressive capability figures. Up to 1,016kg of payload can be carried in the pickup bed, with onboard scales automatically weighing the current contents to let you know how much capacity you have left.
But the more striking figure comes with the towing capacity. Choose the larger battery option and you'll not only enjoy a longer range but a maximum trailer weight of 4,545kg, one of the best figures in the current electric pickup market.
Is the F-150 Lightning Flat Towable?
But while the Lightning boasts solid towing figures, the truck itself isn't flat towable, for example, behind an RV. As with all current electric vehicles, towing the truck risks damaging the electric motors, and so if you want to take a Lightning along on an RV trip, you'll need to invest in a trailer to carry it on. However, rumour has it that Ford has solved the technical issues involved, and future Lightning models may allow flat towing while charging the battery at the same time.
F-150 Lightning as a Power Source
Any downside caused by the lack of fuel pump is more than compensated for by the Ford Intelligent Backup Power feature, which lets the Lightning act as a backup power generator if there's an outage. According to Ford, a fully charged extended battery can supply a typical home's energy needs for up to three days, or up to ten if the intelligent rationing feature is used.
In the Cabin
The high-end technology continues into the cabin, which is as well-equipped as any family SUV. At the entry level, infotainment is handled through a 12" touchscreen, with a 15.5" unit available as an option. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard for straightforward smartphone integration, while in-built navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot are also included on every model.
At the base level, the seats are clad in cloth upholstery, but moving up the trims adds a leather option, as well as an optional Bang & Olufsen sound system with up to 18 speakers.
Can the F-150 Lightning Beat a Gas-Powered Model?
With the 2023 F-150 Lightning, Ford has shown that the future is bright for all-electric pickups. It may not have quite the full power of its mightiest gas-powered siblings, but the Lightning is still one of the most capable and powerful pickups out there using any power source. If you're looking for a truck with workhorse capability but zero emissions, the 2023 F-150 Lightning won't let you down.