Ready or not, East Texas, electric vehicles are on the way. The future of the automotive industry is unfolding fast as brand after brand announce their path to electrification. General Motors has promised 30 new electric vehicles by 2025 and to be primarily electric by 2030. Ford Motor Company plans to be 40% electrified by 2030. These plans are representative of most of the auto industry. Not to mention, new marques that are entering the automotive business as electric only. Brands such Lucid and Rivian are joining Tesla as electric vehicle start-ups.

The specs on electric vehicles will astound you. Vehicles, we once only thought of as utilitarian, will have performance levels that the internal combustion engine could not achieve with the restrictions placed on them for fuel economy. The technology, in development at the same time as the battery platforms, will essentially turn our SUV’s, trucks and cars into smartphones on wheels, always connected and able to help us in more ways than ever. 

So what’s the goal in doing this? Well, increased fuel economy standards have led automakers to downsize engines to four cylinders but add turbochargers for increased torque at low revs. However, the problem is that they have maxed out what can be done with internal combustion engines, (ICE) while trying to achieve the required, higher fuel economy standards. Electrification allows them to get back into the performance game without the requirements for fuel economy hampering performance. Also, climate concerns and the reduction of greenhouse gases, that gas-powered vehicle contribute to, can be solved to an extent with electrification. The new industry is not perfectly clean, but it is a major step. Battery-electric platforms are also allowing auto manufactures to use the same basic, flexible architecture to underpin all of their models. This efficiency will make cars more affordable for customers and more profitable.

As consumers, when we think about electric vehicles, one of the first questions that comes to mind is charging and what is known as “range anxiety.” Until recently, range anxiety was a real thing. Many automakers have stepped us into electric with hybrids, vehicles that run for a time on electric and then switch to gas. Some are plug-in and others use regenerative braking to charge a small battery. These systems also help fuel economy requirements by offsetting the amount of fuel used to achieve the same mileage as ICE only vehicles. But, all-electric for a consumer means wondering how far you can go and where will you charge. Most of us will probably equate a good range with how far our current ICE vehicles will take us on a full tank, 300 to 400 miles. That sounds comfortable, right? But, the other side of the equation is once that runs out, and we are not at home, where will we charge?

In 2017, the average American drove 25.9 miles a day. This is an average. Many people drive much more. So, how and where will we “fill-up” once the range is no longer an issue? The short answer, for those of us with average driving habits, is that our homes will become our “gas” stations. When needed, we will plug in, turn out the garage light, go to sleep and wake up to a full charge. It’s a gamechanger to own your own “gas station.” Your electric bill will go up, and your previous fuel expenses at gas stations will be reduced to paying for charging on the road.

When traveling, you would have every reason to have anxiety about “filling up.” Chargers are just not as ubiquitous as gas stations, right now. Networks already exist and more will come online over the next few years. These plans are in the works with the assistance of investment by the auto manufacturers, private companies, and the government. To sell these vehicles, they must support the transition to and buildout of charging stations. For now, if you are an early adopter, you will have to do some pre-planning before a very long road trip and find charging stations based on your range. Just ask any Tesla owner for tips. Those are the true, all-electric early-adopters in the modern range game. Also, plan to fill your own tank, your stomach, while you charge on the road. Even with superchargers, it will take more time to charge than to fill up with gas.

You should expect pricing to work much like technology companies sell their products. Auto manufacturers are becoming tech companies with this transition. They will be selling models of different capacity as well as a range of subscription software services. We are very used to paying more for vehicles based on how they are equipped. A base model vehicle is one price, then packages can be added that increase the luxury, technology and engine size. With electric vehicles, the prices will escalate as the battery capacity increases. A good comparison here in the tech world is buying a computer or smartphone. The more storage and speed a device has, the higher the cost. Autos will work similarly, the larger the battery, the longer the range, the higher the price.

One electric vehicle that will be on sale in 2022 is of great interest to East Texans. That is because it is a truck, the greatly anticipated Ford F-150 Lightning. Hold on, because it will do 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds. That’s fast. Dare we say, LIGHTNING fast? There is much excitement around this truck because it represents how a workhorse will transition to this new electric world. And, it’s impressive. It is completely familiar to F-150 buyers with the same basic design and some cool, new lighting effects. But, underneath the hood everything is new, and it isn’t an engine. It’s now more storage that is commonly referred to as a “Frunk” (front trunk), and is an access point to power you on the jobsite.

Ford F-150 Lightning on the jobsite and powering the work. Source: Ford Motor Company

The F-150 Lightning and all electric cars will ride on a skateboard of sorts. This is where the batteries are stored, and this architecture frees up lots of space for the buyer to use, makes for better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. Another notable and very useful feature is that the Ford F-150 Lightning can serve as a back-up generator for your home, providing whole-house power for 3 days or up to 10 days with a bit of rationing. The Lightning will be offered in four levels, Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum. If you want to take a look at the existing charge station network, go to https://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/f150-lightning/2022/ You will find lots of information, as well as a handy map to input your destination.

Ford F-150 Lightning charging at home. Source: Ford Motor Company

Let’s look at some of the specs of the Ford F-150 Lightning

  • Five- Passenger, Four Door, SuperCrew Cab Design
  • Dual Electric Motor Configuration
  • 5.5 Foot Bed, Compatible with Existing Accessories
  • Standard All-Wheel Drive
  • Payloads of up to 2000 Pounds
  • Towing Capacity of up to 10,000 Pounds
  • Standard Battery Range of 230 Miles
  • Standard 426 Horsepower with 775 lb-ft of Torque
  • Extended Battery Range of 300 Miles
  • Extended Battery Model, 563 Horsepower with 775 lb-ft of Torque
  • All Models Feature Independent Rear Suspension
  • Price Range $39,974 to $90,474
The Ford F-150 Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Source: Ford Motor Company

It’s worth repeating, again. This TRUCK will do 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds without being a performance, ICE model like the Raptor.

Ford initially planned to produce 40,000 of these trucks annually, but have recently doubled their estimate to 80,000 annually. Pre-orders have surpassed 130,000. If you do the math, this is going to be a sales hit for Ford and a great addition to the popular, electric Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV.

Ford F-150 Lightning Interior. Source: Ford Motor Company

I reached out to Stan Gabriel at Gabriel Jordan Ford in Livingston to gauge his excitement for the new F-150 Lightning and the level of customer interest in our area.

What technology excites YOU most about the new F-150 Lightning?

Several things excite me about the F-150 Lightning. A new option that is available on the Lightning is the Blue Cruise hands free highway driving feature. It is an exciting new way to drive while on the highway. Another exciting feature of the Lightning is the Intelligent Backup power systems that can keep the lights on in the house during a power outage. 

For someone who drives an ICE powered F-150 right now, what can they expect when transitioning to the electric version?

The F-150 Lightning will be the FASTEST F-150 truck.  It has an extended range battery with the capability of 560 horsepower. Also, with the 4-wheel drive and the low center of gravity, the Lightning will have the smooth and comfortable ride you would expect from an F-150.

Are you starting to see customer interest spike now that it has been revealed?

Interest has definitely piqued since the reveal of the Lightning. We have several trucks ordered. My assumption is the Lightning will be a “hot” option for truck enthusiasts, once people get a chance to drive them.

I expect the generator capacity will be very exciting to new owners. Can you tell us more about that?

There are numerous possibilities with the new generation system from plugging in a small power tool to powering your home. It will have available outlets in the bed of the truck as well as the front of the truck with the ability to use both, concurrently.

What will a customer have to do to outfit for charging in their garage?

Lightning owners will have four charging options. Every F-150 will come with a mobile charger that runs on either a 120 or 240 volt AC wall outlet. The chargers range from 32 amp to 48 amp to 80 amp, all the way up to 150 kw. The higher you go, the faster it will charge with a full charge possibility in less than 45 minutes.

Realistically, considering the computer chip and parts shortages, when will you expect to see your first shipment?

F150 Lightning are available to order now.  Reservations can be placed at ford.com. We are expecting them to hit the showroom floors around mid-2022.

Tell us what you expect charging away from home to look like.

There are already over 63,000 charging stations in North America and they continue to be installed daily. The FordPass App will help you find a charging station as well as how many miles you have to travel to charge from your location.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the new F-150 Lightening that will entice customers?

The F-150 Lightning will have the power, luxury and good looks that every F-150 owner has become accustom to over the years. This is the smartest, most connected, most innovative F-150 ever.

All-Electric is coming, and for performance and technology enthusiasts, it’s an amazing time. As I was preparing to write this article, I was most fascinated by the F-150 Lightning because of the care Ford took to not alienate their loyal customer base. They took all the DNA of an ICE F-150 and honored it in the electric version, sacrificing nothing. Then, they added technologies that have not been available before, but will be of great use to their customers. I want to thank Stan Gabriel at Gabriel Jordan Ford in Livingston for talking to me about the Ford F-150 Lightning. It was fun to talk to someone who is as excited about it as I am. Are you ready to put down a deposit?

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Clay Simcoe Autos, East Texas