Today I had a video conference with Linda Zhang, F-150 Lightning Chief Engineer and Brian Bell, Ford Truck Marketing Manager. They went over the merits of the newly launched all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning.
We all watched the unveiling last night and I’ve already covered some of the news about this all-important truck here at Torque News. However, in the video conference one word kept coming up that merited its entire story – commercial.
When Jim Farley spoke during the F-150 Lightning’s reveal he played the small business owner and commercial consumer appeal of the F-150 Lightning. And that really seemed smart of Ford to aim at the backbone of the American economy – the small business.
Many of these businesses have been decimated from the Covid pandemic, so having access to a pickup truck (or trucks) that have lower maintenance, no fuel costs and an affordable starting price, seemed like a great move by Ford.
Ford is officially naming the commercial-focused version of their all-electric pickup truck the F-150 Lightning Pro. During this video chat, Bell said they expected at least 20 percent of all F-150 Lightning sales to come from the commercial side.
Linda Zhang played up the low cost of maintenance for the EV F-150 and said that in surveying potential customers that fleet customers were especially interested in electric vehicles.
“There are less moving parts, a lower total cost of ownership for the F-150 Lightning Pro,” she said. Especially of interest was that, outside of tire rotation, the first maintenance needed wouldn’t come until the 150,000 mile range.
F-150 Lightning Pro targets reducing scheduled maintenance costs by 40% over the first eight years of ownership. Bell added, the F-150 Lightning comes with the “credibility of an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.”
Related story: Five things we like about the F-150 Lightning.
Power and Range Tailored For Commercial Use
When the Lightning was revealed the 300-mile range of the extended battery version was played up, but there was no mention of what effect payload or towing would have on that range, other than it obviously diminishing it. I asked Zhang about the range and neither she nor Bell would give concrete numbers
But they said the F-150 Lightning was developed with a majority of customers, not just fleet customers, in mind.
“More than 145 million miles of telematics data show that for the average F-150 commercial customer in the U.S., 95% of their daily travel is less than 174 miles,” said Ted Cannis, general manager, Ford North America commercial business. “Commercial customers track their business expenses closely – they buy what they need and not a penny more.”
With a starting MSRP of $39,974 before tax incentives, the always-on 4x4 F-150 Lightning Pro with the standard range battery targets an EPA-estimated 230-mile range and includes a complimentary 32-amp Ford Mobile Charger, making the transition affordable for small and medium-size businesses. Targeted to generate 426 horsepower and 775 lb.-ft. of torque with its standard lithium-ion battery, the base truck has a targeted 2,000-pound maximum payload capacity and is targeting up to 5,000 pounds of towing capability – and up to 7,700 pounds with the optional Max Trailer Tow package.
“The digital fleet planning tool will help demonstrate how Ford can provide many customers improved total cost of ownership for a full-size commercial electric truck, from favorable purchase costs, lower fuel and maintenance costs plus strong residual values we expect will mirror those of the commercial F-Series trucks,” said Cannis.
Work-focused F-150 Lightning Pro
Going electric with the F-150 Lightning Pro brings a host of new technologies and features never before possible in a commercial pickup.
Front and center is the first-ever Mega Power Frunk on an F-Series pickup. Under the hood, where an internal combustion engine used to be, is a spacious, high-tech cargo area complete with four 120-volt AC Pro Power Onboard electrical outlets and two USB ports. It also features a rugged, water-tight space strong enough to store 400 pounds of cement bags. Under the powered waterfall hood with bumper-height opening, this well-lit space can be locked, unlocked and accessed from either the remote key fob, an exterior button or from inside the vehicle. A one-way drain makes cleaning easy.
“When we first showed this design to our commercial truck customers, they were floored,” said Cannis. “They appreciated the ability to quickly lock their tools and gear up front, while saving their cargo bed for supplies and other equipment to get the job done. So much more easy access space means commercial customers can rethink the way they work, like moving toolboxes to the frunk for unobstructed bed space.”
Pro Power Onboard is a built-in AC power source that comes standard with 2.4 kilowatts of capability through four outlets in the Mega Power Frunk, two more in the cabin and two in the bed. Available 9.6-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard – with enough power to rip up to 30 miles of half-inch plywood on a single charge on the extended-range battery – adds two more 120V and a 240-volt AC outlet in the bed. Both versions automatically adjust the truck’s battery range estimates as power is used. Fleet managers can set parameters for power usage. Should Pro Power Onboard deplete the battery charge level to the point the truck cannot reach a charge location, it will shut down automatically or based on a pre-determined customer setting to prevent the truck from becoming stranded.
F-150 Lightning Pro will be offered in a full-size four-door, five-passenger SuperCrew configuration. It features easy-to-clean vinyl seats along with standard SYNC 4 with 12-inch color LCD touch screen and 12-inch productivity screen, plus standard Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0 – a comprehensive collection of driver-assist features. A full-size spare tire is mounted under the 5.5-foot cargo bed – which has similar mounting points to the current F-150 for easy upfitting along with a standard Class IV hitch.
Today’s session with Zhang was eye-opening and I got some good information from her. The common theme of paying attention to the hard-working blue collar of our society was nice. That shows Ford hasn’t forgotten the root of the F-150, where it got its start in the fields, farms and construction sites of this country.
What do you think about this? What more questions might you have about the F-150 that I can answer? Leave me your comment below. I will have more from my interview with Zhang later this week here at the F-150 page on Torque News.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.