At first glance, the gigantic pickup truck parked in the middle of the pedestrian path along the Hudson River Greenway was indistinguishable from any other service vehicle. After all, it was just another Ford F-150, the most popular pickup and most popular car in the US.
But a closer look would reveal some key differences: the full-width light bar on the front and rear of the vehicle; the giant front truck (or frunk); and the “Lightning” badge on the rear left corner of the truck. It had been less than a week since its big debut in Dearborn, and the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning, the automaker’s first electric pickup truck, made a quick appearance in Manhattan before returning home.
One of the first things you notice about the F-150 Lightning is how big it is. It’s not surprising, considering the huge trucks in the US have grown in recent decades. But while the F-150 Lightning is about the same size as its fossil-fuel-powered equivalent, it weighs 6,500 pounds — or more than 35 percent more than the gas-powered version. That’s largely thanks to the 1,800-pound battery that rests motionless in the floor of the truck.
Depending on the configuration, that battery will power the F-150 Lightning on a single charge for a range of 230-300 miles. It will also help with lots of other trucks such as towing, towing and off-roading.
The electric version of the F-150 is not lacking in truckiness. It has many quirks and features that will help it find fans among the millions of current F-150 owners, such as the extra step that protrudes from the back of the tailgate to aid in climbing into the bed, or the ridiculous number of power consumers . outlets — both 120- and 240-volts — found throughout this truck. The bed also serves as a scale that can help determine the weight of the load being carried to see how it adversely affects the overall range of the truck.
Inside, the F-150 Lightning is reminiscent of the Mustang Mach-E, its direct predecessor in Ford’s new range of long-haul EVs. The 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen, which is basically the same as in the Mustang, will be available in the more expensive versions. The software felt fluid and responsive, despite missing some of the key details, such as battery capacity, which will be available in the production version of the truck. (The truck we saw was a pre-production unit.)
Unlike the Mach-E, however, the F-150 Lightning had a non-zero number of physical buttons, such as a drag button on the left side of the screen that aids in connecting the gear to your truck. That’s probably because Ford assumes truck owners, especially those who use it for work, prefer a more balanced mix of analog and digital controls.
An interesting quirk is the collapsing gear lever in the center console. When you want to unfold the entire workstation, there is a button that causes the shifter to fold from vertical to horizontal, giving you much more space for a laptop. This isn’t unique to the F-150 Lightning – Ford offers this feature in its gas trucks as well – but it’s nice to see it carry over to the electric version.
The frunk – sorry, “Mega Power Frunk” – is really as big as advertised, if not more. The frunk could fit three roadside employees sitting next to each other, that says it all. There’s also a button on the inside that automatically raises the lid in case a child (or small adult) gets trapped inside. It’s comforting to know that Ford is considering these scary scenarios.
One of the biggest selling points of the F-150 Lightning is its bi-directional power capabilities. Ford claims the truck’s 2.4 kW–9.6 kW output (depending on trim level) could be enough to power an entire house for several days. While we haven’t been able to test any of these more interesting features, it certainly speaks to Ford’s desire to make mobile power generation a feature of the entire F-Series.
Although unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to drive it, we can definitely confirm that the F-150 Lightning is really a truck. Whether truck owners will agree… well, we’ll have to wait until next year when the Lightning goes into production to be sure.