Even with the first “saleable” F-150 Lightnings now rolling down the assembly line, Ford continues to upgrade the specs of its first-ever battery-electric pickup.
Since the Lightning was first unveiled in early 2021, the Detroit automaker has now boosted its range, power and cargo capacity.
Among other things, the latest update makes the truck “the most powerful version of the F-150 we’ve ever made,” at a rating of up to 580 horsepower, said Ford CEO Jim Farley in a video message sent to journalists this past weekend.
More power, more cargo capacity
All versions of the Lightning will be equipped with two electric motors, one on either axle. But buyers will have a choice of two different lithium-ion battery packs. The standard is rated at 98 kilowatt-hours, the extended jumping to 131 kWh. The size of the pack directly impacts other specifications, including range, power and cargo capacity.
With the smaller pack, the Lightning’s drivetrain is now rated at 452 horsepower, up from the original target of 426 hp. The extended-range pack brings power up to 580 hp from the original target of 563. All versions continue to be rated at 775 pound-feet of torque.
It’s not the most powerful pickup out there. The GMC Hummer Edition 1 is rated at an even 1,000 hp and 1,200 lb-ft, while the Rivian R1T’s initial launch manages 835 hp and 908 lb-ft. Still, Lightning now beats out the most powerful version of the F-150 using an internal combustion engine, the Raptor edition hitting 450 hp.
The upgrades also mean Lightning now will be able to haul as much as a 2,235-pound payload, up from the original 2,000-pound target. The automaker said this applies to only certain versions of the truck and hasn’t yet specified which trim packages come in at what number.
But it’s likely not going to be the F-150 Lightning Platinum model which is the heaviest, most lavishly equipped and most expensive version of the battery-electric pickup.
That model saw its estimated range climb from 280 miles to 300, Ford revealed last month. But some other packages using the extended-range pack now will manage up to 320 miles per charge.
“We were seriously focused on raising the bar on this truck, including after we revealed it, so we can deliver more for our customers,” Lightning engineering manager Linda Zhang said in a statement. “And our drive for continuous improvement will get a big boost when we start getting feedback and ideas from customers when they receive their Lightnings.”
A critical move
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is widely considered the automaker’s most important entry into the emerging battery-electric vehicle market yet. With a claimed 200,000 advance reservations in hand, the pickup could become the first non-Tesla model to see sales reach into six figures, although it’s not going to happen immediately.
The automaker originally expected to produce just 25,000 annually at the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. It has repeatedly upgraded that plant and is now pushing towards 150,000 trucks annually.
Ford has even bigger aspirations going forward. Last autumn it announced plans to build the 5-square-mile BlueOval City manufacturing complex near Memphis, along with two new battery plants in neighboring Kentucky. The Tennessee facility will focus on battery-electric trucks, starting with the second-generation Lightning.
Sometime after BlueOval City opens in mid-decade, Farley said last week, it will add a second all-electric pickup. That’s widely expected to be a version of the midsize Ford Ranger.