Ford charges up the Lightning nameplate for its all-electric F-150

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Lightning is back, and not just because it’s spring thunderstorm season. Today Ford confirmed what many Blue Oval fans have suspected: The upcoming all-electric F-150 pickup truck will bear the fabled Lightning name. Even better? Ford’s also announced a release date: Wednesday, May 19.

The announcement video, which Ford released today on its social media channels, may have said it best: “It’s time to take an entire century of innovation and point it at the next century.”

We’ve known that an all-electric pickup from Dearborn has been in the pipeline for a while. Perhaps you recall a few summers back, when an electric F-150 towed 1.25 million pounds (albeit on a train track, a factor which made the feat less stupendous than it first seemed.) Maybe Ford’s half-a-billion-dollar investment into electric startup Rivian caught your eye. As the world’s automakers press further into the electric revolution, America’s best-selling pickup of the past 43 years seems one of the most logical candidates for electrification.

As for the truck itself, Ford has promised range-topping power figures, a frunk, and performance by the battery load. Ford CEO Jim Farley was sure to note that the upcoming EV truck will be quicker than the most recent gas-powered F-150 Lightning, a barn-burner which, as of the 2001 model year, hit 0–60 in 5.2 seconds on its way to a 13.8-second quarter-mile, as tested by our own Larry Webster during his time at Car and Driver. We wouldn’t be surprised if the electric F-Series proves Ford’s quickest pickup ever, surpassing the boost-huffing F-150 Raptor and its more mature brother, the F-150 Limited (both use the same high-performance, 450-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6). As proven on YouTube countless times, the instantaneous torque from electric motors is a boon for drag racing and acceleration times.

Ford F-150 Lightning DRLS
Ford

The F-150 Lightning arrives not a moment too soon for Ford. Heretical as you may have found it, Ford’s pillbug-shaped Mustang Mach-E is selling well, proving that attaching recognizable nameplates to an unfamiliar product is a viable formula, mourning ponycar purists or otherwise. Ford has generated some real confidence in its electric offerings with this SUV, and the time to capitalize on that momentum is now.

The new F-150 Lightning won’t simply be facing its crosstown rivals, such as the high-end GMC Hummer and recently-announced electric Silverado; there are new players in the space, such as Rivian’s own R1T electric pickup, as well as oddballs like the Tesla Cybertruck and the Bollinger Motors B2.

Ford F-150 Lightning logo
Ford

More than ever, being first to market with a useful electric pickup might be the difference between Ford retaining that best-selling belt for another half-century and watching an industry stalwart slip from the top spot.

Ford says that the F-150 Lightning will begin production in the spring of 2022 at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, a $700 million expansion to the Blue Ovals’s Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

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