At first glance, the giant pickup truck parked in the middle of the pedestrian path along the Hudson River Greenway was indistinguishable from any other service vehicle. After all, it was just another Ford F-150, the most popular pickup truck and most popular vehicle in the US.
But a closer look would reveal some key differences: the full-width light bar in the front and rear of the vehicle; the giant front trunk (or frunk); and the “Lightning” badge on the rear-left corner of the truck. It was less than a week since its big debut in Dearborn, and the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning, the automaker’s first electric pickup truck, was making a quick appearance in Manhattan before heading back home.
One of the first things you notice about the F-150 Lightning is how big it is. It’s not surprising, given how huge trucks in the US have been getting over the last several decades. But while the F-150 Lightning is roughly the same size as its fossil fuel-powered equivalent, it weighs 6,500 pounds — or over 35 percent more than the gas engine version. That’s in large part thanks to the 1,800-pound battery resting immovably in the floor of the truck.
Depending on the configuration, that battery will power the F-150 Lightning for 230–300 miles of range on a single charge. It will also help with loads of other truck stuff, like hauling, towing, and off-roading.
The electric version of the F-150 does not lack in truckiness. It has lots of quirks and features that will help it find fans among the millions of current F-150 owners, such as the extra step that extends out the back of the tailgate to help when climbing into the bed or the ridiculous number of power outlets — both 120- and 240-volt — that can be found all over this truck. The bed also serves as a scale that can help factor in the weight of whatever cargo is being carried to see how it will adversely impact the truck’s overall range.
Inside, the F-150 Lightning is reminiscent of the Mustang Mach-E, its immediate predecessor in Ford’s new lineup of long-range EVs. The 15.5-inch portrait touchscreen, which is basically the same as in the Mustang, will be available in the more expensive trims. The software felt fluid and responsive, despite lacking in some of the key details, like battery capacity, that will be available in the production version of the truck. (The truck we saw was a pre-production unit.)
Unlike the Mach-E, though, the F-150 Lightning had a non-zero amount of physical buttons, such as a towing button to the left of the screen that helps when hitching up gear to your truck. That’s probably because Ford assumes that truck owners, especially those using it for work, would prefer a more balanced mix between analog and digital controls.
One interesting quirk is the collapsing gear shifter in the center console. When you want to fold out the full workstation, there’s a button that will cause the shifter to fold down from its vertical position to a horizontal one, allowing you a lot more space for a laptop. This isn’t unique to the F-150 Lightning — Ford offers this feature in its gas trucks, too — but it’s nice to see it carry over to the electric version.
The frunk — sorry, “Mega Power Frunk” — is really as big as advertised, if not more so. The frunk was able to fit three Verge employees sitting side by side, which really says it all. There’s also a button on the inside that automatically raises the lid, in case a child (or small adult) gets trapped inside. It’s comforting to know that Ford is taking into consideration these scary scenarios.
One of the F-150 Lightning’s biggest selling points is its bidirectional power capabilities. Ford claims that the truck’s 2.4kW–9.6kW output (depending on the trim level) can be enough to power an entire house for several days. While we didn’t get to test out any of these more interesting features, it certainly speaks to Ford’s desire to make mobile power generation a hallmark of the entire F-series.
While, unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to drive it, we can certainly confirm that the F-150 Lightning is very much a truck. Whether truck owners will agree... well, we’ll have to wait until next year when the Lightning goes into production to say for sure.