Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck: video review, range and specs
Electric power puts a new spin on one of the world’s most popular vehicles
Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks have been around for more than 70 years, with over 40 million sold in that time – primarily in its home market of the USA. It’s never gone on sale in the UK, but the arrival of a fully electric version marks a significant milestone in the switch to zero-emissions vehicles.
That said, the F-150 Lightning isn’t the only contender in the electric pickup truck class. The Rivian R1T and Hummer EV are both on sale in the US now, with the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the Tesla Cybertruck set to follow hot on their heels.
According to the American EPA test cycle, which differs slightly to the WLTP system we use in Europe, F-150 Lightnings fitted with the 98kWh standard range battery can cover up to 240 miles on a charge. But if you go for the 131kWh extended range unit that figure jumps to 320 miles. Regardless of the battery, every model features a dual-motor setup for all-wheel drive and over 1,050Nm of torque.
There are some differences in charging speeds though: the standard-range F-150 Lightning can charge at up to 120kW, which means a 15-80% top up requires 44 minutes at a suitably fast rapid charger. However, the long-range version peaks at 155kW, so replenishing the 131kWh battery to the same level takes just 41 minutes.
The long-range model also boasts a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes (10,000lbs), compared to the standard-range F-150 Lightning’s 3.5 tonnes (7,700lbs) limit. But, standard-range versions have a slightly higher maximum payload of 907kg, which is roughly 100kg more than the long-range model can carry. Thankfully, there are scales in the truck’s 1.67-metre load bed that can detect the payload weight and adjust the Lightning’s range estimate on the dashboard accordingly.
Higher-spec Lightning models also feature Ford’s 'BlueCruise' hands-free driving system, which can be activated on certain stretches of US and Canadian highway. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, BlueCruise is totally hands-free, but it can only be engaged on pre-programmed roads; there are over 130,000 miles of designated ‘Hands-Free Zones’ already, and more coming soon.
Due to its sheer size, we don’t expect the electric F-150 to come to Britain anytime soon, however, its technology could be carried over to the smaller Ford Ranger model, which is currently available in the UK with a diesel engine. If so, a Ford ‘Ranger Lightning’ would serve as a rival to the Maxus T90EV pickup that recently went on sale here.
Ford F-150 Lightning UK drive
The Ford F-150 Lightning is undeniably one of the most important electric cars ever made. That’s a bold statement for sure, but once you consider the unwavering popularity of the pickup truck, the F-Series’ loyal fanbase, and its potential to change many people’s perception of EVs, the significance of this zero-emissions pickup truck is clear. So obviously, we wanted to try it out for ourselves.
Like we said, Ford doesn’t sell the F-150 Lightning in the UK, but the Blue Oval was kind enough to bring one over to Britain in order for us to put it through its paces without the need for a lengthy flight to Detroit.
The styling of the F-150 Lightning is more understated than the Rivian or Hummer it competes with, as the overall shape is barely changed from the regular V8-powered F-150. The full-width LED light bars at the front and rear, plus the blanked off grille and more aerodynamic wheels do hint this is the EV version, but the familiar looks should appeal to the F-150 diehards the Lightning needs to win over. Clearly the sales pitch is working because, to date, Ford has 200,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, and isn’t taking any more right now.
The truck we drove was the top-of-the-range Platinum model, with all the bells and whistles including the 131kWh extended range battery and 555bhp produced by its two electric motors. That’s plenty of poke, with a 0-62mph time in the mid-four-second range, which you could use to stun any sports car driver you leave at the lights in this three-tonne behemoth. However, even in Normal mode, that amount of power on tap can make it difficult to drive the truck smoothly.
But it’s on the motorway where the F-150 Lightning really impresses. It’s much more refined than you’d expect anything this big, boxy and bluff sided to be. Frankly, we’ve driven much smaller electric cars that aren’t as quiet or adapt as well to high-speed cruising as this slab-sided electric pickup truck.
And for a truck that has the aerodynamic properties of a London bus, it’s hard to criticise its efficiency either. Day-to-day you’re likely to see the F-150 Lightning return around two miles per kWh, which equates to a real-world range of at least 260 miles for our 131kWh model. But during a brief jaunt through the UK’s capital city, the truck returned close to 4mi/kWh, which is electric family car territory.
We will say that tight European towns and cities aren’t the best environment for the F-150 Lightning because you're acutely aware of just how huge it is. The F-150 Lightning does at least offer much better ride comfort and is generally more compliant on the road than previous generations of Ford’s F-Series trucks thanks in part to its new independent suspension system – a first for a full-size pickup – however, it’ll still bounce around a bit when there’s nothing in the bed.
The wealth of technology in the cabin also helps when you’re covering many miles in the F-150 Lightning. In our range-topping Platinum model that included a 12-inch digital driver’s display behind the steering wheel paired with a 15.5-inch central touchscreen swiped from Ford's Mustang Mach-E SUV. Less expensive models get a slightly smaller 12-inch unit. The cabin design overall isn’t that different from the regular V8-powered F-150, but that should prevent the truck’s target audience from feeling too alienated. Meanwhile, there’s a vast amount of space for passengers in the rear.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across the range, unfortunately material quality is a bit more of a mixed bag. Lots of the materials used throughout the cabin feel made to last, which isn’t a bad thing for a workhorse like this, but we noticed some of the leathers used for the seats or gear selector were becoming shiny after just 5,000 miles.
Some of the truck’s other tricks? As there's no engine, customers are rewarded with a 400-litre 'frunk' under the bonnet – that’s bigger than the boot in a Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback. Plus, built-in electrical outlets in both the load bed and frunk allow you to power tools and other equipment from the truck’s battery, and bi-directional charging means you can top up another EV, or even power a house in an emergency.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike the Rivian R1T or Hummer EV, the Lightning range features a more affordable, commercial-focused version called the Pro, priced at $51,974 (c.£45,000) before any tax incentives. That’s five thousand pounds less than the asking price for the Chinese-built Maxus T90EV, and for that you get a longer range, Ford’s Co-Pilot360 2.0 safety and driver assist systems. Plus, the onboard scales, rapid charging capabilities, a 12-inch central infotainment touchscreen and the Pro Power Onboard function to power tools and other equipment.
That’s plenty of truck for the money, but if you were to go for a top-of-the-range Platinum like ours, that would set you back at least $96,874 (c.£84,000). Though, in the world of electric pickup trucks, that’s not the craziest price tag we’ve seen.
Electric Ford Puma Gen-E could soon become UK’s top EV seller
New Dacia Spring has landed and could be UK’s first really cheap electric car
New Ineos Fusilier plugs the ‘electric Land Rover Defender’ gap in the market
New cheap Vauxhall Corsa Electric YES Edition says ‘no’ to expensive EV prices