The most important electric car does not come from Tesla and certainly not from Europe – at least in America. Because with the Ford F-150 Lightning, the best-selling vehicle in the USA will be launched in June as an electric version. FOCUS Online has already tested it.
Ford recognizes the importance of its F-150 Lightning. Since the T-model, which ushered in automobile mass production at the beginning of the last century, and perhaps also the Mustang, there has probably not been a more important car with the “Blue Oval”. The F-Series from Ford and above all the F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the USA for more than four decades and is therefore one of the best-selling vehicles in the whole world – up to a million customers choose the so-called full-size pick-up every year. up
Exactly the F-150 is the first in its class to be available from next month as an impressive electric version under the name Lightning. The car manufacturer from Dearborn not only turned a painful nose at its direct competitors Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram, but also sidelined Tesla, which has not yet brought its all too polarizing cybertruck to the market despite announcements to the contrary.
While the Tesla Cybertruck looks like an electric UFO from a distant Buck Rogers galaxy, the 5.91 meter long Lightning can hardly be distinguished from the ordinary Ford F-150. So it is not surprising that in the traffic of the Texan metropolis of San Antonio hardly any other road users are aware of the future model with the electric drive.
The electric pick-up is a colossus that you see on every corner here in Texas. More than half of all cars in the metropolitan state have an open truck bed, so Texas is the model state for whether the Lightning will be a success or not. “We’ve put a stop to 200,000 pre-orders,” says chief developer Linda Zhang, “we have to process them first, otherwise we’ll scare customers away. We currently have a production capacity of 150,000 vehicles per year.”
The direct competitors Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra and especially the hyped Tesla Cybertruck stumble when it comes to electric drives. Ford intends to use this head start and hammer in its stakes as deeply as possible with customers. “Around 80 percent of Lightning customers currently drive a combustion engine,” explains Darren Palmer, who is responsible for electric vehicles at Ford. “This is a unique opportunity for us to get them excited about electric drives.”
You want to use it, so not only is the appropriate technology provided, but it was also heavily praised. The so-called workhorse of the F-150 Lightning Pro starts for just under $40,000. There is a range of almost 380 kilometers, 377 kW / 452 hp, all-wheel drive, 98 kWh battery and solid comfort and safety equipment.
However, especially in the first few months of production, most Ford F-150 Lightnings will be the top versions of the Limited, which costs at least $90,000. There is a 580 hp, 131 kWh battery, 560 km range and standard equipment that leaves nothing to be desired. The probably later bestsellers Lightning XLT and Lariat rank between Pro and Limited.
Despite its almost three tons curb weight, the F-150 Lightning pushes like a raging bull that has been let onto the Texas paddock for the first time. From a standing start, it accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and the all-wheel drive and 1050 Nm of torque, together with the enormous weight in each of the different driving modes, ensure that the electric pick-up brings its engine power spectacularly to the road.
The electric cowboy is most relaxed in comfort mode, while there is a little more recuperation in the sports program and anyone who wants can switch to one-pedal mode via the powerful central screen. The thrust is enormous at any speed and for a few seconds the fact that the enormous battery pack in the underbody makes the charging colossus almost three tons in weight fades into the background.
It should annoy at least a few customers in the American non-city states that the F-150 Lightning is sealed off at 165 km/h early on, because in Texas, Colorado or Wisconsin, without any supervision, people sometimes drive much faster than the maximum permitted 85 mph . However, it is probably more important for many US customers that the electric F-150 is its own power plant on 18 to 22-inch wheels. If you are traveling as a craftsman, you can connect electrical appliances from the TV to the drill to the air conditioner to up to eleven sockets on the loading area and the 400-litre loading space under the front flap. And if the domestic power supply collapses again as a result of a hurricane or a cold spell: the Lightning can supply a normal household with electricity for three to ten days, depending on usage. Something like that pulls in the US when addressing customers. This also applies to the space available, which is impressive thanks to the 3.70 m wheelbase and the equipment, which leaves nothing to be desired, especially in the noble Limited version. It is operated via voice or a powerful 15.5-inch vertical display in the middle of the dashboard.
The suspension tuning of the 150 is more comfortable than one would have expected. In particular, the tendency to roll when cornering should be less and the feedback from the steering only leaves something to be desired for demanding customers. The same applies to fast charging, because Ford wanted to bring its great hope to the market faster than the competition and looked at the cent, the Ford F-150 Lightning is only on the road with a 400-volt electrical system, fast charging only up to 150 kWh possible.
“However, most of our customers charge in the garage at home anyway and at most once in between when shopping in the supermarket car park,” Linda Zhang tries to hide the manageable flaw, “an electric car, especially as a pick-up, must not offer any restrictions – not even in terms of payload or range . Otherwise customers won’t switch.” It’s more important than ever that you currently have the market to yourself. Admittedly, contradicting it is difficult. After all, the F-150 fully recharges its battery in 40 minutes at a quick charging station.
After the Mach E, which is also available in Europe, the F-150 Lightning is the Americans’ new electric spearhead. In the coming years, the Detroit-based carmaker will spend 50 billion US dollars to prepare for the switch to electromobility. “For us, this is an electric revolution,” adds Darren Palmer. Customers in Europe will notice this more than ever. Ford wants to be completely electric here by 2030, and the commercial vehicles that are so important are to follow by 2035 at the latest. Not only does the American mass model F-150 help as a global image bearer, but also the new models that are coming here. More important than ever is the cooperation model with Volkswagen, which Ford of Europe will present as an electric crossover in this: on the modular electric kit from Volkswagen.