When the snow started falling in Texas, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power supply, failed to live up to its name leaving hundreds of thousands in the cold and dark.
Some Texans took matters into their own hands, turning to their 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid trucks to help power their homes, including Randy Jones of Katy, Texas, near Houston. Jones went four days without power as four inches of snow fell.
“It’s really cold which is unusual for us,” Jones said on the F150gen14.com forum.
Jones’ new F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid is powered by a twin-turbocharged and intercooled 3.5-liter overhead-cam V-6 mated to an electric motor that delivers 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque and returns an EPA-rated of 24 mpg.
Truck with an onboard generator
More importantly, the truck’s integrated generator produces 7.2 kilowatts of power, enough to help power key appliances when the power goes out. Jones grew up in Los Angeles, “where there are always hurricanes and power outages so, when I got my truck, I made sure it had a generator.”
The truck was in short supply, so Jones had to wait four weeks to get it. The wait proved worthwhile.
“I backed it out of my garage, got some extension cords off the receptacles and started plugging in my refrigerator, freezer, space heaters and we hooked up a power strip for neighbors who could charge up their phones,” Jones said.
But he was not alone. Another poster used his 2021 F-150’s 7.2-kW generator to run his home’s HVAC system for several days, as did another, who powered his refrigerator, lights, cable modem, wireless router, and other household items for three days.
Which trucks have the feature?
The feature, dubbed Ford Pro Power Onboard, is optional on F-150s with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and the 5.0-liter V-8. It generates 2 kilowatts of power through two standard 120-volt outlets in the bed. F-150 PowerBoost hybrids come with a standard 2.4 kilowatts of output, but there is an option for 7.2 kilowatts of output.
Power is accessible through in-cabin outlets and up to four cargo bed-mounted 120-volt 20-amp outlets, with a 240-volt 30-amp outlet on the 7.2-kilowatt version. The company says that the 2.4kW system runs 85 hours on a tank of gas, and 32 hours with the 7.4-kW system.
Ford offering help in Texas
Ford, however, went a step further, asking its Texas dealers to loan 2021 F-150 pickups from inventory to residents without electricity, offering dealers an additional $600 more than normal to put F-150s with the Pro Power Onboard into loaner fleets.
“Due to the urgent and unprecedented weather situation in Texas, a number of our local dealers are using all-new Ford F-150s equipped with Pro Power Onboard to help in their communities,” said Mike Levine, Ford’s North America Product Communications manager. “Approximately 415 trucks fall within this effort.”
Nissan and several other EV manufacturers have said that they plan to make it possible to reverse charge, allowing you to run a home during a blackout. It is not known if any of these vehicles have been made available for use in Texas.
Other EVs making an impact
But other electric vehicle owners also turned to their vehicles.
One Texas Tesla owner posted on Reddit that he turned to his Model 3 after the power went out for six hours. “Our house does not have gas, and we ran out of firewood.,” he posted. “If only we had some sort of sleeping pod with a 75kw battery that can keep us warm through the night. Oh wait we do. So my wife my dog and my newborn daughter slept in the garage in our Model 3 all nice and cozy. If I didn’t have this car, it would have been a very rough night.”
Traditionally, pickup trucks typically come equipped with plugs that can produce 2 kilowatts of electricity regardless of powertrain, enough to power the odd small appliance. But look for automakers to jump on Ford’s bandwagon.
“We’re proud to pitch in to help Texas in this time of need,” Levine said.
Obviously, Jones agrees.
“It’s been a blessing for me and for other people in the neighborhood,” he said.