Ford has confirmed that it’s using the F-150 Lightning name for its upcoming fully electric F-Series models due starting in 2022.
The automaker disclosed little more about the electric F-150 Lightning, but it announced an official reveal date of May 19, and indicated that the model will bring “stunning innovation, technologies and capabilities” to the lineup.
The F-150 Lightning name was previously given to a series of high-performance versions of the F-150, issued from 1993 to 2004, and the use of this very electric label might not be any stretch even by the performance benchmarks of that predecessor. At least some versions of the F-150 Lightning are expected to have a dual-motor all-wheel-drive setup, and Ford said last September that the electric F-150 would have more horsepower and torque than any F-150 available today.
So far Ford hasn’t given any further hints of what kind of performance the F-150 might offer, but in 2019 it showed a prototype electric F-150 towing ten double-decker rail cars weighing more than a million pounds a total of 1,000 feet—although it didn’t confirm that this in any way reflected components or gearing to be given to the production configuration.
Ford F-Series electric truck prototype
The Lightning name was introduced in the 1990s, when Ford put its big 351 Windsor (5.8-liter) V-8 that had originally made its debut in the 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 into its pickup bestseller. It last used on the 1999-2004 F-150, when it applied the formula a bit differently, with a handbuilt, specially tuned supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine. It was EPA-rated at a combined 14 mpg then, which would amount to 13 mpg with today’s conversion factor.
The F-150 Lightning wouldn’t be the first effort from the company to tap into the company’s performance heritage. It follows the rollout in recent months of the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E—and, due soon, the Mach-E GT and GT Performance.
Ford has already confirmed that the electric F-150, like the Mach-E, will offer an “enormous” frunk (front trunk) capable of hauling hundreds of pounds. And it will keep improving over time through fast over-the-air updates.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E frunk with food
We don’t expect the F-150 Lightning to aim for high range numbers, and we’ll be surprised if Ford goes much beyond 300 miles of EPA rated range in the model’s top form. Towing could decimate the range—expect 60% of the truck’s normal range when towing a significant load, based on experiences we’ve collected from EV owners—but reports suggest Ford has been mulling the idea of a bed-mounted range-extender.
Ford has given plenty of hints that it’s planning the electric F-150 to be an affordable truck that it can offer at higher volume than some alternatives, with Ford CEO Jim Farley indicating in November that Ford’s upcoming EVs won’t be as “dramatic as a $100,000 retail off-roader”—a jab to the GMC Hummer EV—but that it aims for a bigger impact.
Ford E-Transit and F-150 Electric prototype
The F-150 Lightning is due to be powered by batteries and motors assembled in Michigan and shared with the upcoming E-Transit electric vans. Battery cells themselves for the F-150 Lightning won’t be from overseas; they’ll be sourced from a new SK Innovation plant in Georgia.
This piece was originally published on May 2, then republished May 10 with an introduction noting Ford’s official confirmation of the name.