The F-150 has been the best-selling truck for 44 years running, and Ford has tampered with it big time to produce the new electric Lightning. (Ford used the name previously on its SVT-branded performance pickup discontinued after the 2004 model year.) The F-150’s combustion engine is replaced with batteries and electric motors, normally an insignificant, regulation-satisfying pivot in today’s car market, but on a high-volume vehicle such as the F-150, it potentially represents a seismic shift—not just for Ford but also for the industry and its overall adoption of EVs. And with the base work truck carrying a starting price of $41,669 (the MSRP minus the required destination charges is just under $40,000, and it qualifies for Federal and state EV tax incentives), Ford sends a strong message that you don’t need deep pockets to go electric.
The Lightning does not replace the “regular” F-150. It instead expands the truck family with a smoother, more aerodynamic electric version with cool lighting and wheels. It comes only with the four-door SuperCrew cab and a 5.5-foot bed. The look is distinct, with traces of Mustang Mach-E, but remains instantly recognizable as an F-150. Ford leadership told the truck’s designers it didn’t want the 2022 Lightning to look like a science experiment.
Why should a loyal pickup truck buyer consider the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning when it goes on sale in May 2022? Because it boasts few compromises but delivers various superlative features that might make the conventional truck look like an outright Luddite.
A few key F-150 Lightning specs:
- The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a five-passenger SuperCrew cab with a 5.5-foot bed. These are the same dimensions as its conventional counterpart, meaning common accessories and equipment will work and fit just the same.
- Maximum payload of 2,000 pounds, of which 400 pounds can go in the frunk where the engine used to be.
- It can tow up to 10,000 pounds.
- With extended battery: 563 horsepower, 775 lb-ft of torque, and a driving range of about 300 miles on a single charge.
- With standard battery: 426 hp, 775 lb-ft, and a range of about 230 miles.
- Front and rear motors provide standard all-wheel drive, and skidplates protect the underbody while off-roading.
- It retains the full-size spare tire in the back.
Just as sudden as an actual lightning strike, the F-150 Lightning becomes the quickest and most powerful F-150 in the lineup. Ford estimates it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The quickest Ford F-150 MotorTrend has tested was the previous-generation off-road Raptor model, with a best time of 5.2 seconds.
Another key point: The 2022 Ford Lightning becomes the first F-150 to get an independent rear suspension—necessary for packaging the rear motor—along with its corresponding benefits to ride and handling. The truck does not have air suspension.
In other words, the Lightning not only goes electric but also addresses common complaints people have of most trucks: fuel economy, ride, and handling.
How Else Does the Lightning Differ From the Standard F-150?
Riding on a new EV platform, with the latest electrical architecture and fourth-generation electronics, the F-150 Lightning becomes the smartest and most connected truck in Ford’s lineup, offering a new wealth of features and apps, along with a giant 15.5-inch touchscreen to access many of them.
Please Repeat That Starting MSRP Again …
Perhaps the most startling Lightning feature is its starting price. As mentioned, the base work truck starts at $41,669 and is available for both retail and fleet customers. It is one of four trims; the others are the popular XLT (which starts at $54,669), Lariat (starting price forthcoming), and Platinum (about $90,000).
For comparison, the 2022 GMC Hummer EV electric pickup launches this fall with the fully loaded Edition 1, which starts at $112,595. The lowest trim, the EV2, runs $79,995 and won’t be available until 2024. You can buy two Lightning XLTs for the price of a Hummer Edition 1. Another competitor, the 2021 Rivian R1T that goes on sale next month, starts at $67,500. Tesla continues to develop the Cybertruck, which it wants to sell for $39,900, but past experience suggests it will sticker for much more, and the launch date, potentially by year end, may be fluid going on late.
Ford is taking reservations for the Lightning now, requiring a $100 deposit to get on the list. Officials won’t say how many orders will constitute a sold-out first model year, but the company expects strong demand. About 2,300 of Ford’s 3,000 U.S. dealers are certified to sell and service EVs, and the Lightning initially will only be available in North America.
Meet Ford’s New Skateboard (and Battery)
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has been in the works for about three years, and it is the first vehicle on a new dedicated electric-vehicle platform. The skateboard was designed from the ground up with a new frame positioning the battery pack between the rails, extending between the front and rear motors. There are no plans to add a third motor for performance. An exoskeleton, waterproof casing, and full-body metal skidplates protect the battery.
Ford did not reveal the size of the Lightning’s pouch-style lithium-ion battery packs. The high-energy-density cells use a nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode chemistry with particularly low cobalt loading. They will come from the new SK Innovation battery plant in Georgia. For repairs, technicians will be able to remove suitcase-sized sections of the battery.
The skateboard is flat and low, which makes loading items into the front trunk (frunk) easier. The front suspension was also bolstered to give the frunk a payload of 400 pounds.
Batteries are heavy, and the truck weighs about 6,500 pounds, roughly 1,000 more than the same truck with the 3.5-liter engine. The batteries alone weigh about 1,800 pounds, Ford officials told President Joe Biden during a tour of the Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, where the truck will be assembled. Biden later took one of the Lightnings for a spin in an empty lot, with a U.S. Secret Service agent in the passenger seat. “This sucker’s quick,” the commander in chief said afterward.
Charging the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
All trucks come with a mobile charger that can either plug into a standard 240-volt outlet, which provides about 13 miles per charging hour at 32 amps, or into a regular 120-volt outlet to charge at 3 miles per hour. The new 80-amp home charger, Ford Charge Station Pro, is the better way to go, charging up 30 miles of range in an hour and getting the larger extended-range battery from 15 to 100 percent charge in about eight hours.
At a DC fast charger, the extended-range Lightning can gain 54 miles of range in 10 minutes and charge from 15 to 80 percent in about 41 minutes. The charge port is on the front driver’s side of the vehicle, as opposed to the Hummer, which puts the port at the back of the truck on the assumption owners will back into the charger stations.
The Lightning uses 400-volt charging, as compared with 800-volt charging for the Hummer.
Ford has cobbled together a network of 63,000 charge plugs from assorted partners, and the number grows. On-screen apps help find available chargers and are supposed to show, in real time, if they are working and available. Customers can use the FordPass app to access them. Buyers will receive the first 250 kW free, which should be good for about four full charges. The onboard Intelligent Range feature will figure out the best places to recharge, factoring in weather, traffic, payload (determined by onboard sensors), towing weights, your driving habits, and more, to adjust the range accordingly.
Using the Ford Lightning to Power Just About Everything
With Pro Power Onboard, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning can power tools at a worksite or toys at a campground or your house (for a time). The Lightning has 11 outlets for power, with four 120-volt outlets and one 240-volt outlet in the bed, and four more 120-volt outlets in the frunk. If you add USB ports, there are 21 outlets total, rivaling some apartments.
If the battery level falls below a third of its full range, drivers will get a FordPass notification to decide whether to keep powering tools or preserve the energy for travel. The all-electric F-150 can be programmed to stop using Pro Power Onboard when the battery level approaches the distance to the next charge station.
With the home integration system, if there is a power outage, you can also power your home for three days—10 days if you ration—with 9.6 kW of Ford Intelligent Backup Power. If the truck is plugged in at home, the automated system will recognize the power is out and pull juice from the truck, through the wall box, and into the inverter, which is tied to the home’s central electrical system. When power is restored, the vehicle will resume charging.
In the future, Ford Intelligent Power will allow you to charge your truck overnight when electricity is least expensive and send the power back into the house during high-cost, peak-energy hours to help keep overall costs down.
Ford went with the most popular configuration for the Lightning—SuperCrew—and it does not plan to add others. The extra cargo space in the frunk somewhat negates the need for a longer bed.
Lighting is key to the look. Light bars span the vehicle’s width front and back, making it look a bit more futuristic. Headlights and taillamps have their own signature shape, and exterior zone lighting encircles the vehicle. There are also lights in the frunk and in the bed.
The blacked-out chrome grille (which matches the chrome on the beltline) is attached to the hood; they open as a unit to access the frunk. The wheels have an aerodynamic beveled design and come in 18-, 20-, and 22-inch sizes. The F-150 Lightning also sports a new, elongated, aerodynamic running board.
The word “Lightning” is in script on the sides of the bed, and the tailgate displays a Lightning badge with an American flag badge. The latter idea seems popular; it can be found on Jeeps and on the new Hummers.
Interior, Tailgate, and Box
The cab is largely the same as the conventional F-150, with a large exception: Ford redesigned the instrument panel to accommodate a 15.5-inch vertical touchscreen for Lariat and Platinum trims, similar to the one in the Mustang Mach-E EV, with some modifications. It has a huge “volume” ring embedded in the screen at the bottom—quite a marvel—and it uses Ford’s latest Sync 4A infotainment system. Some of the materials and colors are also unique to the Lightning.
The Lightning has the regular F-150’s 180-degree reclining front seats for a nap and a console that flips over to create a workspace when the gearshift is folded out of the way. The tailgate opens the same way, and the work surface and bottle openers are intact—something customers wanted. The cargo box retains the same dimensions to ease the transition for past truck owners, who can easily transfer their accessories and tools to the new truck. More than 95 percent of accessories carry over from the traditional F-150 to the Lightning.
Now That’s a Frunk
Ford says the 2022 F-150 Lightning has the biggest and most powerful frunk in the industry. It has a deeper subfrunk level under the removable and reversible nonskid mat. The grille opens as a single piece with the adjustable-height hood, and LED lights are embedded on the underside of the grille to illuminate the cargo area.
The frunk has a low load floor and offers 14.1 cubic feet of volume, enough to hold two golf bags. It is a sealed dry space but can accommodate wet and dirty items, with a drain in the subfrunk floor. The underfloor bin has a lid that doubles as a divider to segment the cargo hold. There are grocery hooks, tie downs, and a cargo net at the back.
Ford’s Lightning offers four drive modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, and Tow/Haul. To aid the driver, cameras provide a 360-degree view. There are also box and accessory cameras, but not a camera underneath the truck to see the terrain below you when wheels are in the air as you’re off-roading.
Onboard Scales is another cool feature; it uses the truck’s sensors to estimate payload, letting you know when you hit the F-150 Lightning’s threshold. The input is fed to the trip planner, which adjusts your range accordingly—one more way to assuage range anxiety.
Pro Trailer Hitch Assist makes its debut on the Lightning; it controls steering, throttle, and brake inputs to align your ball hitch under your trailer coupler. You still have to hop out to attach the trailer yourself.
Ford brought back the Lightning name, first used in 1992 on a performance F-150 that was the world’s fastest production truck at the time. Since the name was announced for the EV, it has received positive feedback, marketing manager Brian Bell said. Enthusiasts are primed for performance, and those who don’t remember the original—Lightning buyers are expected to skew a bit younger, more urban, and with higher income than traditional truck buyers—still think it makes sense for an electric vehicle.
“I love the Lightning name,” chief engineer Linda Zhang said. “I think we’ve done it justice.” We think so, too.
|SPECIFICATIONS||2022 Ford F-150 Lightning|
|LAYOUT||Front- and rear-motor AWD, 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|MOTORS||426-563-hp/775-lb-ft AC permanent-magnet electric|
|CURB WEIGHT||6,500 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||231.7 x 79.9 x 77.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA FUEL ECON||Not yet rated|
|ON SALE||May 2022|