With more than 200,000 advance reservations for its first all-electric pickup, Ford is looking to dominate what has traditionally been one of the auto industry’s most profitable market segments.
Back in April, Ford CEO Jim Farley revealed the automaker will follow the recent launch of its full-size F-150 Lightning with a second all-electric model. And a series of new trademark registrations in the U.S. and Europe suggest there could be more than one new EV truck in the works, with Ford set to use either “Thunder” or “Lightning” badges — or perhaps both.
Indeed, there’s been an ongoing debate about which of its two smaller pickups might be next in line: the midsize Ranger or the newer compact Maverick. But the registrations Ford filed in both Europe and the U.S. suggest it may be ready to electrify both of them.
Bringing down Thunder and Lightning
The first move came to light last week when it was discovered that Ford filed two trademark registrations with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, or EUIPO, for both a Ranger Lightning and a Maverick Lightning.
Curiously, Ford applied a month earlier to register the name, “Thunder,” for all three of its pickups in the U.S. and Canada.
One has to be careful how to read trademark applications. Automakers routinely file for names they intend to use, but they also move on names they want to protect, keeping competitors from grabbing them. They’ll also hang on to names from the past — which is why Tesla was unable to call the smaller of its two sedans the Model E, a name Ford has held onto for decades. Ford announced earlier this year it was using Model e as the name of the division overseeing its electric vehicles.
It could be possible that Ford would like to use both Thunder and Lightning badges and not just in different markets. But what seems clear is that it will electrify its entire pickup family, top to bottom, as it migrates away from internal combustion technology over the coming decade or so.
All-electric Ranger expected first
The general consensus is that it will first follow the F-150 Lightning with an all-electric version of the Ranger.
Industry watchers believe that idea was designed into the latest generation of the midsize truck — and some of the key drivetrain components could be shared with the F-150. That would help Ford gain economies of scale driving down production costs for both pickups.
Intriguingly, there has been speculation that Ford could also provide an all-electric version of the Ranger to its erstwhile partner, Volkswagen. The two have teamed up on a number of projects. Among other things, VW is providing two battery-electric vehicles to Ford using the German automaker’s flexible MEB architecture. In turn, Ford is producing the Volkswagen Amarok pickup, which is based on the Ranger platform.
How soon Ford might bring out an all-electric Ranger is unclear. In April, Farley appeared to say it would be assembled at Ford’s massive new BlueOval City operation near Memphis, Tennessee. That manufacturing complex isn’t set to go into operation until mid-decade, however.
Adding a wrinkle to its plans, BlueOval City is expected to debut with a second-generation F-150 Lightning that would use a new, dedicated EV architecture, rather than the current platform which is a heavily modified version of the regular truck.
As for Maverick, the model introduced last year featured an extremely flexible platform capable of being powered by the conventional gas and hybrid systems currently offered. But Ford officials indicated it could handle all-electric drive, as well. It’s also possible that it eventually that a Maverick Lightning could migrate to a new and dedicated EV architecture.
Whatever direction Ford takes with electric Ranger and Maverick models, it would likely offer various trim packages and that could include both retail and commercial versions.
That’s the approach Ford has taken with the F-150 Lightning.
Some speculation has it that Ford is looking to also add a more rugged, off-road dedicated version of its electric pickups. That could be where Thunder comes in, helping differentiate the battery-powered models from the current FX4 and Raptor badges used on its gas-powered pickups.