Ford delivers first F-150 Lightning: EV Truck war drives into Top Gear

The first F-150 Lightning goes to a rural Michigan man who also owns a Tesla Model 3, as he became the first person in the nation to receive a Ford F-150 Lightning.

Nicholas Schmidt, the chief technology officer of a grid optimization startup, took delivery Thursday of a silver electric truck at Richardson Ford, a dealership in the small town of Standish, Michigan.

Schmidt owns a Tesla Model 3 and put a deposit down for one of the company’s Cybertrucks, and also considered purchasing a Rivian R1T truck. However, he said his wife was relieved when it was clear that the F-150 Lightning would be the first to arrive.

Ford is counting on its decades of production and delivery expertise and its vast network of dealerships as it seeks to vault over its rivals in the race to get electric trucks to the most people. Trucks are among the top-selling vehicles in the country. The F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for the last 40 years.

While Rivian has the distinction of being the first to bring its electric truck to market, Ford’s electrified F-series is expected to drive more customers to consider switching to EVs. Likewise, despite being introduced in 2019, the Tesla Cybertruck has been repeatedly delayed and isn’t likely to go into production until 2023.

The EV truck war will be fierce, but Ford may have bought itself some breathing room thanks to the speed it got the F-150 Lightning to market. General Motors’ started delivering its premium Hummer EV truck to customers earlier this year. Still, at nearly three times the price of the F-150 Lightning, it really can’t be considered to be in the same category. The automaker’s Chevy Silverado EV will likely be much more affordable but isn’t expected to start production until 2023. Meanwhile, Stellantis hasn’t said when its electric Ram 1500 truck would debut.

But Ford will have some constraints of its own. For example, the number of electric F-150s Ford planned on making in its first few years of production has been a shifting target. At first, the company was only targeting 40,000 vehicles annually, eventually telling suppliers it expected that capacity to rise to 80,000 by early 2023. That number has been increased to 150,000 trucks by mid-2023 — though it’s unclear how many will reach customers this year.

The company uses a “wave-by-wave reservation process” to inform customers when they can go online to spec out their Lightning. Earlier this year, Ford stopped taking reservations after collecting 200,000 refundable $100 deposits for the Lightning since it debuted in May 2020. The production target from Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is 160,000 units per year.

Schmidt plans on using his F-150 Lightning to do truck stuff, like hauling wood and towing. This year, how many more customers will get to do truck stuff with their F-150 Lightning will be up to Ford.

The Ford F-150 Lightning is a battery electric full-size light duty truck unveiled by Ford in May 2021 as part of the fourteenth generation Ford F-Series. Four models have been announced, and all models initially will be dual-motor, four-wheel-drive, with EPA range estimates of 370–480 km. In addition, the base price of the commercial-grade version all-wheel drive (AWD) truck in the United States was announced to be US$39,974, with higher-power/trim/range models priced up to US$90,000. The F-150 Lightning began production on April 26, 2022.

Ford announced the intention to produce a fully-electric light pickup at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January 2019. In July 2019, Ford tested prototype electric test mules on existing F-150 chassis. It culminated in a record-setting demonstration test tow of 570,000 kg on rails. Chief engineer for the F-150, Linda Zhang, emphasized that Ford intended to take the “built Ford tough durability, capability, and productivity and a whole new arena” of electric trucks.

Ford unveiled the truck and released the model name on May 19, 2021, with production planned for the spring of 2022. Ford received 44,500 refundable-deposit orders in the first two days after the announcement and a further 25,000 in the next two days.

In addition, 100,000 $100 reservations were reached by June 11, 2021, and Ford announced that a more official order bank would open later in 2021. In addition, the company would offer digital services for subscription revenue that will change car sales from a single-time transaction process.

By late May 2021, Ford had begun discussing other electric trucks beyond the F-series, such as the Expedition and Navigator, intended to be underpinned by their full-size EV truck chassis and a smaller chassis used for the Bronco, Explorer, and Aviator.

In December, Ford had received more than 120,000 refundable orders for the Lightning by the end of July, 200,000 for a 3–year backlog. Starting price is US$39,974 for the “commercial-grade Lightning Pro” fleet version, while the “mid-series” XLT model starts at US$52,974. Higher-priced Lariat and Platinum models are priced up to US$90,000.

The base configuration has 452 hp (337 kW), 230 mi (370 km) range, and its smaller battery supports a 2,000 lb (910 kg) payload. The high-end configuration has 580 hp (430 kW), 300 mi (480 km) EPA range, 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) times in the mid-four-second range, and a towing capacity of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg). All models have 775 ft-lb (1,051 N?m) of torque, full-time 4wd, independent rear suspension, and will initially come in a crew-cab configuration only, with a 5.5 ft (1.7 m) bed. The active suspension provides a real-time load weighing function.

Like Tesla, the Ford F-150 Lightning is announced to include over-the-air software updates and significant software driving aids, which will allow limited hands-off highway driving but fall short of full self-driving. In addition, the F-150 Lightning in some trim packages, in concert with the “80A Ford Charge Station pro with Ford Intelligent Backup Power capability,” can provide household-oriented V2G power, which can meet the electrical needs of a typical American home for three to ten days. The truck can also supply up to 9.6 kW of power through up to eleven 120V and 240V electrical outlets distributed around the car.

This electric truck has a standard battery and can travel 230 mi (370 km) on a single charge. The Ford F-150 Lightning was also evaluated to reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.5 seconds. The maximum available payload is 2,235 pounds (1,014 kg), which includes the 400-pound (180 kg) payload of the front trunk (called a “frunk” by Ford). The new Lighting can tow up to 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg).

EPA range estimates of 230–300 mi (370–480 km) produced by Ford in May 2021 were based on 1,000 lb (450 kg) of cargo carried in the truck. However, Electrek reported that the range with no load, just a driver and the car, appeared to be closer to 400 mi (640 km). The F-150 Lightning will be produced at Michigan’s new Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Lightning production will also involve two other plants: the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan, which will assemble the electric motors, and the Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan will build the batteries.