When the Ford F-150 Lightning BEV reaches dealers in the spring or summer of 2022, it will wear the mantle as the most important electric vehicle introduced to date in America.
Wait, you might be thinking to yourself, what about the Tesla Model S which single-handedly changed the image of EVs from glorified golf carts into fast as all heck, 300+-mile range, aspirational computers on wheels? Or the Model 3, which at around $40,000 made EVs in reach of a much larger market of buyers versus the $80,000+ price tag on the Model S.
Or why not the Tesla Model Y, which, while it costs a bit more than the Model 3, its crossover form factor is what the American market demands today and in 2021, the Model Y will be the highest-selling EV in the US by a landslide.
You can indeed make an argument for anyone of those 3 Tesla models being the most important vehicles in helping make EVs mainstream.
Except they really haven’t. In my area in a Northern California suburb the Model Y has quickly become one of the most popular cars on the road. Not just of EVs, but of any type of car. But in the south and middle parts of the US, Tesla’s and EVs in general, can be rare sightings.
In other words, models from Tesla have brought awareness and attention to EVs and are an easy choice for early adopters to “go EV.” But for many reasons including price and form factor, they haven’t brought EVs to mainstream buyers.
Enter the Ford F-150 Lightning.
F-150 Lightning is a True Game Changer
The Ford F-150 Lightning is a game changer and will be the most important EV ever introduced in the US. The fundamental reason the Lightning is so paramount to EV adoption in the US is because it is the first EV that easily answers the most basic of questions: Why should I buy an EV over an ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle?
The real promise of EVs has always been not that they are quicker, require less maintenance, and emit zero emissions – although those advantages are obviously important. Rather, the value proposition and game changer with EVs is to fundamentally be able to do things that a comparable ICE vehicle simply can’t do.
What made sales of smartphones take off beginning with the launch of the Apple iPhone was the 100s of the things the “computer in your pocket” could do that were enabled by mobile apps. It was the “smart” aspect, not the “phone” that made smartphones must-have devices.
And more than any other EV introduced to date, the Ford F-150 Lightning makes similar leaps in functionality. Let’s take a look at four key capabilities that give it a distinct advantage over the regular gas F-150:
1. Ford Intelligent Power. With the freeze in Texas this past February and the annual concern in western states of power outages due to fire precautions or an overtaxed grid due to heatwaves, homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the need and options for backup power. In a genius move, the engineers at Ford developed its new Intelligent Backup Power capabilities to address this growing concern among home and car/truck owners.
When enabled by the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and a special inverter that separates your home from the electrical grid, owners of the F-150 Lighting can use their truck as a backup power source to your home during a power outage. The power transfer can be triggered automatically or manually based on customer preference.
2. A humongous frunk — with power outlets. Tesla coined both the concept and the term frunk with the launch of the Model S back in 2012. But it is my guess that a majority of the US population has never heard the term nor have any idea what it means. The Lightning has a very large and purpose-built frunk that allows easy front access to a huge amount of storage space. Add in power outlets and the frunk goes from a fun, nifty, nice-to-have feature to a very valuable space for both commercial and personal truck users.
3. 11 power outlets: Through its Pro Power Onboard system, the Lightning will offer 11 power outlets located in the bed, cab, and frunk. While the F-150 hybrid also has Pro Power Onboard, the Lightning has more power (9.6 kW) versus 7.2 kW with the Hybrid model.
4. Less maintenance/Lower TCO. The idea that an electric vehicle has fewer parts, and no engine that requires oil changes, is not unique to the Lightning. But because so many owners of F-150 pickups use their trucks as part of their business, the benefit of less maintenance and a lower TCO becomes very powerful message for the Lightning and gives it an additional advantage over the ICE version.
Beyond the four key capabilities outlined above, the F-150 Lightning’s importance also includes the message Ford is sending to employees, suppliers, dealers, and long-time customers — we are serious about EVs and intend to win.
And with an MSRP starting at $39,974 for the Pro model, Ford has also signaled to the market and competitors that the Lightning will be in reach of traditional truck buyers.
In the end, the Ford F-150 Lightning is so hugely important to the adoption of electric vehicles because it is the first EV that may actually be of greater interest to pick-up buyers in Oklahoma, than those in Silicon Valley.