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Specialized Lightning Shows Neat On-Road, Off-Road Capability

The King of the Hammers may have put Ford Broncos to the test, but it also included a specialized F-150 Lightning EV.

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In this past weekend’s King of the Hammers Competition, you might be forgiven if you wondered what one of Ford’s F-150 Lightings was also lighting things up.

More to the Hammers Than Before

Part of the festivities during the tough-as-nails competition that featured Ford’s epic SUVs, the Bronco series, also showed off a new vehicle based on the Lighting.

Related Issue: Specialized Lighting Struts Its Stuff At the Hammers

It’s electric and features 37-inch tires: The F-150 Lightning Switchgear from Ford Performance is a high-performance on- and off-road demonstrator vehicle based on America’s best-selling electric truck.

Designed and built in collaboration with RTR Vehicles and inspired by the F-150 RTR Ultimate Fun-Haver project vehicle from 2016. It was designed with Switchgear’s custom exterior carbon bodywork with a Ford Performance 2024 livery and underpinned with off-road upgrades to take the F-150 Lightning where it’s never been.

Latest Ford Performance Demonstrator

It’s the latest in our Ford Performance Demonstrator program – joining SuperVan 4.0 and 4.2, the Mustang Mach-E 1400, Mustang CobraJet 1400, and the F-100 Eluminator – that showcases the possibilities of what an electric vehicle can be and provides a playground for engineers to advance learnings quickly for future electric vehicles.

Switchgear provides explicitly a testbed for pushing the boundaries of what’s expected from electric trucks.

It significantly increases track width beyond the F-150 Lightning for off-road stability and improved ground clearance and suspension travel.

To manage rough terrain, the suspension on F-150 Lightning Switchgear – named not just for its off-road capability but its performance on asphalt (more on that later) – uses FOX 3-inch diameter internal bypass shock absorbers plus unique front and rear bumpers to improve approach and departure angles.

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Custom F-150 Lightning features double-wishbone suspension

The truck features custom independent double-wishbone suspension at the front and multilink independent suspension at the rear with coil-over shocks, a stabilizer bar, and custom control arms.

Switchgear also has carbon composite front fenders, bedsides, and rear bumper covers. Steel-fabricated rock rails and front skid plates are added to ensure the vehicle is prepared for rough off-road terrain. Limit straps are added to help manage suspension and wheel travel,

The electric truck wears NITTO Ridge Grappler 37x12.5R18 tires and features a unique chase rack with two spare wheels/tires.

First Public Shows at King of the Hammers

The F-150 Lightning Switchgear was on view for the first time at last weekend's grueling King of the Hammers off-road racing event in Johnson Valley, California.

As to the tough-as-nails off-roading event that put Broncos through their paces as they chased up and down the rocks and other off-roading issues that the King of the Hammers is famous for, early returns show that the Ford brand did very well. Torque News will have complete final listings of the King of the Hammers as soon as they become available.

Ford Motor Photo

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.


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