That makes this pick up Ford's most important electric vehicle by far: its simple yet effective flatbed design, rugged dependability and starting price of just $40,000, mean that, with the Chevrolet Silverado EV not starting production until 2023, and Stellantis remaining tight-lipped with the launch of the Ram 1500 truck, Ford are well-placed to take the fight to Rivian - and Tesla, if the Cybertruck ever actually happens. So, what can we expect?
Ford F-150 Lightning design
When compared with its American counterparts, the F-150 Lightning doesn’t have the space-age curvature and reflective body panels that the Tesla Cybertruck does (in concept form at least), or the cluster of intricate details from the Rivian R1T. Aside from the LED headlight bar and the black plastic bezel which replaces the chromatic grille, the F-150 Lightning's design language remains restrained and quiet.
The F-150 also has an under-bonnet ‘frunk’, that offers 400-litres of storage space that's the same as a Nissan Leaf's entire boot. It also has four electrical sockets and two USB chargers. Here, your valuable luggage can also be transported safely protected from dirt and thieves, unlike anything which has to go 'out the back' in any other pick up.
The spacious cabin is teeming with creature comforts like the all-new Sync 4A 15.5-inch infotainment screen, a Bang & Olufsen sound system with eight speakers all-round, and cloud connectivity. Storage beneath the leather-clad seats are also paired with a plethora of hidden storage pockets around the cabin. The impressive technology is tidily packaged to create a cabin that looks as refined as it feels.
The load bed is clearly an important -perhaps the most important - part of the F150. Ford has been careful to make sure there are no compromises in going electric, so the has just as much payload as a normal F-150.
Ford F-150 Lightning battery, range and charging
As expected with a car as popular as the F-150, Ford are offering two battery power options. The standard pack, with a 98 kWh battery, will have a range of 229 miles. The alternative is an extended 130 kWh pack which is capable of up to 310 miles of range.
Both have an estimated charging time of 40 minutes to reach 80% capacity. For some perspective, the Rivian R1T has a 135 kWh battery that is capable of a slightly higher 314 miles; charging at 125 miles per 20 minutes, making it slightly slower than the F-150's extended battery variation. But the charging power at 150 kW is too small for such a colossus, because Ford was in a hurry and had to look at the money and therefore opted for 400 instead of 800 volts operating voltage. That's a shame and means you'll spend a long time at the charger - especially as the F150 is hardly efficient.
The F-150s party piece, however, is its ability to store and expend power when required. In much the same way as a Hyundai’s IONIQ series, its batteries can charge electrical equipment such as drills, pumps, caravans, e-bikes, and even music systems. The F-150 can also act as an emergency generator which can power a general household for up to three days if the worst happens, and can be stretched to ten days if usage is prudent.
Ford F-150 Lightning driving and performance
Given that the F-150 is a go anywhere, do anything breed of vehicle, unsurprisingly it requires a large amount of power just to move it. But the motors go way beyond the merely adequate. The dual-motor in the standard battery pack vehicles will produce 452bhp, which rises to 580bhp in the extended battery range F-150s. Both will produce 1050Nm of torque, which is the highest output ever from an F-150, making it perfect for towing.
Driving it feels in another world: It retains the sublime feeling you get as you sit over the traffic like the cowboy over your herd, with five metres and three tons of car around you in the thickest traffic jams. But where the classic trucks are crude and loud, the Lightning is serene and can leap forward violently if you ask it.
Even in its most basic form, the propulsion is as immediate as it is enjoyable, and completely detaches you from the reality that the F-150 is a utilitarian vehicle, and not a low-slung coupe. And while the performance isn’t supposed to be the forte of an F-150, it's an amusing talent to have. The pick-up feels more like Ferrari than Ford, and of course, the torque available also helps in the dirt or when in front of a trailer.
The handling, alas, is not very Ferrari like. The Lightning wallows enormously in the few curves that can be found in the USA and the steering gives comparatively little feedback.
Ford F-150 prices and UK launch
The entry level F-150 Lightning Pro is currently retailed for $39,974 (£31,947). The F-150 Lightning XLT is the first mid-range model, priced at $52,974 (£42,336), with the next trim up being the F-150 Lightning Lariat at $67,474 (£53,925). Finally, the range-topping F-150 Lightning Platinum begins at $90,874 (£72,626), and will likely feature an options list that bloats it even further. So while the electric F-150 Lightning does start cheap, it progressively reaches a price that’s close to the Rivian L1T. Ford have already announced that the electric F-150 Lightning will not be coming to the UK, due to its unsuitable proportions. Though the Ford Ranger, which is sold in the UK, is overdue an update. Ford may well see this as a key opportunity to implement technology from the electric F-150 Lightning into their European market.