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All-Electric Ford F-150 To Be Named Lightning

Ford will repurpose the performance-oriented Lightning name for the 2023 Ford F-150 EV. Lightning name has a long history in the performance-truck world and though unconfirmed by Ford, the EV version of the 2023 Ford F-150 will get the Lightning name.

Ford is at it again. Taking one of their hallowed names and putting it onto an electric vehicle. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Ford did the same thing with the Mustang Mach-E and took a lot of flak for it from the Mustang enthusiasts.

Now, the Lightning name, which was used predominantly in the 1990s and early part of the 2000s as a performance version of the F-150, will return to the F-150, but this time be part of the first-ever all-electric Ford F-150. Although this is technically unconfirmed by Ford, major media outlets all ran with the news and the cat is out of the bag.

Ford North America Product Communications manager and knower of all things Ford trucks, Mike Levine, even tweeted a simple image of the grille of the upcoming EV F-150. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this image, but nothing more was included in his Tweet (pictured below). As such, we can all but assume the Lightning name is a go for the 2023 EV F-150.

Mike Levine EV F-150 Tweet

I got the standard “we don’t comment on future products” response from Ford’s PR team. But Levine tweeting that image on the day the Lightning news hits is pretty easy to draw a conclusion.

1993 Ford F-150 LightningA quick history of the Lightning F-150
The Lightning F-150 came about from Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) which produced some great, powerful vehicles. The SVT Lightning F-150 started in 1993, and the first generation had a 5.8-liter Windsor V8 engine and made 240 horsepower. That kind of “power” seems incredibly low now. Yet, the SVT Lightning was beloved amongst a niche consumer who wanted a street-powerful pickup truck.

The second-generation Lightning spanned 1999-2004 and saw an increase in power thanks to supercharger technology and had a 5.4-liter Triton V8 engine. It increased the horsepower to 380 and 450 lb./ft. of torque.

The SVT team was essentially disbanded by Ford in 2004, and essentially ended the Lightning program. There was an SVT Lightning concept for the new body style of the 2005 F-150, but it was nothing more show piece for shows like the Detroit Auto Show.

The Lightning would go away and eventually be replaced by the Raptor, as Ford’s performance-oriented pickup truck. Although enthusiasts will tell you the Lightning and Raptor are wholly different trucks, with different dynamics and different buyers.

Related story: 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor has fighter-jet inspired design elements.

EV F-150 Grille2023 Ford F-150 Lightning
Very little is known about this all-electric F-150. We do know it will be very important to Ford Motor Company to have their best-selling nameplate with an electric version. This will align them for the future and also align them against the Tesla Cybertruck.

Ford has been tight-lipped about range and performance of the EV F-150 but has said it will have the fastest acceleration of any F-150 currently on the market. The dual-electric motors will surely crank out horsepower and a crazy amount of torque. Just how much remains uncertain.

One thing is certain, Ford will need the F-150 Lightning to be both powerful and capable with range exceeding 400 horses. The most important factor will be how payload and/or towing diminished that range. This is the electrified elephant in the room when it comes to EV trucks, both for Ford and Tesla.

Tesla, and their cult-like followers, might accept a less capable truck, but Ford truck buyers will demand a lot of towing, a lot of payload and a lot of range. They won’t accept anything less, even if it has the Lightning name on it.

The Lightnings of the 1990s and early 2000s wasn’t known for incredible towing, so I can see Ford using that as an excuse to have lesser towing capability for the all-electric version.

2023 Ford EV F-150 towingFinal thoughts
Ford continues to go to tried-and-true nameplates from their past. It seems to be successful so far with the Mustang Mach-E, and the Bronco Sport, but will it work for the Lightning F-150? The Lightning is the least cherished name amongst those other nameplates, so it’s less of a risk.

I get the marketing move and the buzz it creates. And honestly naming an electric truck Lightning seems quite appropriate. So even if this is lazy marketing, it’s a smart move by Ford. And what will matter most, as I alluded to earlier, will be that the 2023 Ford EV Lightning have tremendous range with a lot of towing and payload. I know it will be fun and have crazy amounts of torque.

But consumers have come to expect certain standards from a Ford F-150, so hopefully the Lightning won’t disappoint. Ford has teased the EV F-150 doing a lot of towing and truck-like jobs, so I have high hopes.

Related story: Ford F-150 wins 5-Year Cost To Own Award from KBB.

What do you think of the Lightning name being used? And will you expect less towing and payload because it has that name? Leave me your comments below.

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.