Stromer for the US folk soul: Ford F-150 Lightning - e-mobile for Armageddon

Landlust, climate change, natural disasters, power outages and now also concerns about world peace: The new Ford F-150 Lightning is the right car at the right time.

Stromer for the US folk soul: Ford F-150 Lightning - e-mobile for Armageddon

Landlust, climate change, natural disasters, power outages and now also concerns about world peace: The new Ford F-150 Lightning is the right car at the right time. Unfortunately only for the USA for now. Ford could also use the e-pickup as a driving force in Germany.

Matt Stover will probably not forget this trip to Texas in February 2021 anytime soon. Because the family celebration was literally a nail-biter for the Ford developer. At that time, a winter storm paralyzed the electricity supply across the country and ended up killing several hundred people. Except for a few spoiled dishes in the freezer and some frost damage to the house, Stover had nothing to complain about. But that was when he knew his latest project would be a success.

Because Stover helped develop the Ford F-150 Lightning, which, as the first electric pick-up for the general public, is not only intended to make the most important vehicle segment on the US market fit, but also to protect the nation from precisely such situations. When connected to the home network via the wallbox, which is even standard in the higher-end variants, the energy in the up to 130 kWh battery is sufficient for an average family for around three days without restrictions. "And if you're frugal, you can even make ends meet for ten days," says Stover. "Even the longest blackout can no longer harm you."

While the Texas winter storm was an exception, localized blackouts are commonplace across the US, along with severe weather, bushfires, storms and tornadoes. And that, in addition to their penchant for leisure activities in the fields, forests and meadows and of course the high proportion of farms and corporate customers, is one of the reasons why the pick-up is firmly anchored in the American soul. So it's no wonder that around two million new trucks are sold every year. "Anyone who buys a pick-up wants to be prepared for anything," says Darren Palmer, who is responsible for the development of all e-models at Ford, summing up the requirements. For sports with horses, quads or motorcycles, for camping and outdoor holidays, for moving house, for the factory or farm - and now also for Armageddon. Because that seems to be in the offing at a time when the climate is going visibly crazy and world peace is now beginning to falter.

Palmer has only a mild smile for competitors like Rivian and Tesla. For some, because the R1T only serves the elite and has about as much in common with the Lightning as a Porsche 911 has with a Mustang. "Both sports cars on paper, but in practice and in terms of price in different spheres." And for the others, because the Cybertruck is still in the stars more than two years after its premiere. "The Lightning, on the other hand, is the real deal, the really big thing," says Palmer, after all, the F-150 is the US car par excellence and has been at the top of the registration statistics for almost half a century. "So we are not only electrifying the most important car on the market, we are also opening up electromobility to a completely new target group."

In order for this to succeed, his project manager Linda Zhang has put a car on the wheels that is more than equal to the conventional F-150 - and with a price range between almost 40,000 and almost 100,000 dollars it is almost identical. "The Lightning pulls just as much as a combustion engine, has the same payload, digs just as bravely through dirt and mud and is just as durable," says Zhang, and talks about millions of test kilometers under the most adverse conditions. Above all, it offers the same feeling of invulnerability and reliability. In the rush hour you are enthroned above things and nobody gets too close, and in the wilderness you quickly feel that there is always and everywhere a way for the Lightning.

You quickly get used to looking at the range display: Even the basic model has 98 kWh and travels 370 kilometers according to the US standard, and the XL version comes with 130 kWh to over 500 kilometers - that's how big the gaps in the charging network are even in the rearmost hinterland then not after all.

In one point, however, the Lightning differs from the normal F-150: it drives much better. Yes, even an F-150 Raptor gets the blood pumping. But where it unfolds its 450 hp with the sensitivity of a steamroller, lightning strikes without warning. Just casually swimming along in traffic, a pole position at the traffic light, a courageous kick and a clear lane are enough to suddenly turn the world upside down and pour the coffee out of the mug onto the wide armchair.

This is of course no wonder, with permanent all-wheel drive as standard, instead of otherwise switchable all-wheel drive and 452 hp in the basic version or even 580 hp in the top version and with a maximum of 1050 Newton meters, which are almost immediately available. With a sprint value of less than five seconds, the pick-up, which weighs around three tons, feels suspiciously like a Porsche when it kicks down, and with a little more than 170 km/h Ford even gives it a little more leash than the classic light trucks that are in usually electronically braked at 160 km/h.

Only at the charging station is the F-150 not the fastest: Because Ford looked at the money and even more at the time, Detroit decided against an 800 volt system. The Lightning only charges up to 150 kW, so it takes around 40 minutes from 10 to 80 percent. In the land of fast food, that might be too long a break. Especially when not only luxury brands like Tesla, Lucid or Porsche charge faster, but also Hyundai and Kia.

The Lightning looks like any other F-150, except for the LED staging on the front and rear and the large tablet in front of the center console inside, because project manager Zhang does not scare the millions of existing customers with a spaceship design. But of course the platform truck is on a new platform, with the battery in the floor and the motors on the axles, which has made another innovation possible for Zhang: the biggest frunk that has ever been seen in an electric car. There, where otherwise the burners slog, there is now 400 liters of storage space, which is protected from dirt and thieves for the first time in a pick-up. If you want, you can connect your tools to the sockets under the hood just like on the platform, or cool drinks in the tub that can be rinsed out with the drain plug, or bring your catch home from fishing.

Proven qualities and new achievements - that's obviously going down well with the Americans. It is not for nothing that Ford received so many orders within a few weeks that they stopped accepting 200,000 orders in Detroit last December. Even if the production capacity has already been doubled, it will probably take more than a year until these pre-orders alone are processed.

One person's joy is another's sorrow: While chief developer Palmer steps off the stage with broad shoulders and an even broader grin, Ford in Europe should make long faces at these figures. Because even if the Lightning were the perfect train number for the switch to a purely electric fleet for passenger cars by 2030 and commercial vehicles by 2035, export is probably a long way off for the time being.


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