- Ford says its new electric F-150 Lightning pickup will be profitable when it arrives at U.S. dealerships next year.
- Pricing for the vehicle will range from about $40,000 for a work truck to about $90,000 for a high-end model.
- The pickup, which Ford officially unveiled Wednesday night, resembles the automaker's current F-150 but includes new interior and exterior features.
The pickup, which Ford officially unveiled Wednesday night, resembles the automaker's current F-150 but includes new interior and exterior features. It's powered by two electric motors and a battery pack instead of a traditional gas engine. It will be offered in two battery options with targeted ranges of 230 miles or 300 miles, Ford said.
The F-150 Lightning is arguably the most important vehicle to the company in years. It is expected to safeguard the Ford F-Series' decades-long sales leadership in the U.S. amid the industry's expected shift to EVs. F-Series includes the F-150 and its larger siblings. It is a roughly $42 billion business for Ford and its biggest profit center.
"For both Ford and the American auto industry, F-150 Lightning represents a defining moment as we progress toward a zero-emissions, digitally connected future," Ford Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement. "Now we are revolutionizing it for a new generation."
Its significance to Ford and American consumers is why investors and politicians, including President Joe Biden, are highly interested in the vehicle and its reception from buyers. Biden on Tuesday visited the Michigan plant that will produce the EV. He used it as an example of a new era for the U.S. auto industry.
Ford said a work-oriented version of the truck will start at $39,974. More consumer-centric models will start at $52,974 and top out at about $90,000, according to executives. The automaker is taking refundable $100 reservations for the F-150 Lightning on its website.
The vehicle is expected to be one of the first mainstream electric pickups, if not the first, when it arrives in dealer showrooms by mid-2022. Tesla's Cybertruck and GMC's Hummer EV are scheduled to be released later this year; however, they're expected to be more niche products.
Recipe for profitability
Darren Palmer, Ford's head of EVs, said the F-150 Lightning lineup will be profitable. He declined to specify whether every model will make money, saying the company doesn't discuss such details for any vehicle.
Ford's recipe for profitability with the F-150 Lightning is scale. While the Lightning is built on a unique truck frame, it largely shares parts with its traditional gas-powered siblings such as seats, doors and much of the vehicle's interior to assist with supplier pricing.
"We're going to make money on this truck," Palmer said during a media event at a Ford proving grounds facility in Michigan. "Our mantra is: 1. We have to make money on it ... and 2. They have to do things that other trucks never did. That's how you tempt people in."
Part of that scale for the truck will be driven by sales to commercial vehicle customers, according to Ted Cannis, general manager of Ford's North American commercial business. He said commercial customers are "the only way you can build up the volumes" at this time, given consumer demand remains relatively low for EVs.
Expanding and better monetizing fleet sales to municipal and corporate customers is a focus of the company under Ford CEO Jim Farley. It's a segment Ford leads in globally.
'Not a science experiment'
Ford's pitch to customers on the EV is relatively simple: It's an F-150 but electric. It will operate much like a traditional pickup, while doing some things better. That includes speeding from 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and powering a home for up to 10 days in the event of a blackout.
"F-150 Lightning is the truck of the future, today," said Kumar Galhotra, Ford's president of the Americas and international markets. "The F-150 Lightning is a great example of how we're doing business at Ford today, using electrification to make our vehicles even better."
The 2022 F-150 Lightning is estimated at up to 563 horsepower and 775 pound feet of torque — about 130 horsepower and 200 pound feet of torque more than the top-rated version with an engine. It also features an extremely large front trunk, also known as a frunk, for additional storage and which should come in handy for other use cases such as tailgating and camping.
The design and functionality of the vehicle is meant to be a truck, "not a science experiment," according to Linda Zhang, chief engineer of the EV. Ford's customers "wanted distinct and not different," she said.
The F-150 Lightning has a host of new or upgraded features compared with current gas-powered models, including over-the-air, or remote, updates.
An obvious difference is an available 15.5-inch touchscreen inside the vehicle. It also is available with 11 outlet plugs, including four in the frunk and one 240-volt outlet in the pickup box for heavy-duty equipment.
A current hybrid electric-gas model of the 2021 F-150 also features an electric generator but not the level of power of the EV version.
Ford is partnering with solar company Sunrun to offer an at-home EV charger and an inverter that would automatically draw power from the truck when it's plugged in — enough to power an entire home or certain critical products during a power outage. They'll also offer solar installation for owners.
Other features available include integrated scales to ensure the vehicle won't be overloaded in the pickup bed or frunk and an upcoming hands-free highway driver-assist system. All vehicles will feature four-wheel drive and an independent rear axle that increases ride comfort. Ford's upcoming hands-free driving will be available at launch.
The F-150 Lightning supports a maximum 2,000-pound payload and has a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds. Those are both in line with many gas-powered F-150 trucks.
"We don't think our customers should have to expect anything less out of a Lightning than they would the F-150s that they're used to," said Anthony Magagnoli, Ford experience development engineer, during a drive in the vehicle.