Well boys and girls, mark your calendars! We all knew it was coming, but Ford finally made it official today as they announced that they will unveil the new, all-electric F-150 Lightning on May 19, 2021. This is a HUGE deal. Ford's F-series has been the best selling nameplate in the United States for the past 40 years or so. I don't have the time or willpower to do the math, but if you parked all the F-150s ever sold nose-to-tail along Earth's equator, I'm willing to bet they'd circle the globe at least once or twice. Someone prove me wrong!
Let's start with the name. Ford was met with some, well let's call it resistance, when it named their new electric crossover a Mustang, despite the Mach-E subtitle. I can understand a little bit of that sentiment, say from a Mustang aficionado's point of view. But the machine that now wears the badge got immediate brand recognition, an association with excitement and performance, and the debate around the name itself garnered the EV so much free press that one could argue it was a brilliant move simply because it got people to notice and start talking about the car. That's a Mustang?! Well, it is now. In the case of the new Lightning, however, there will be no mistaking the form factor. This electric truck will look like an F-150. Rest assured. And the Lightning part? Well, ain't that just a match made in heaven. Lightning is electricity. And this truck is all-electric. I mean, just whoa. I kind of like the new Lightning logo too. Maybe the font is a little too Tron-like for some, at least in the image above, but I think it works - especially with that adorable little T-bolt sandwiched in there.
Anyhow, the current F-150 already has an astounding number of powertrain options, including a very well rounded hybrid option, whose drivetrain is referred to as Powerboost. (Ecoboost was already taken apparently.) So adding an all-electric version of Ford's bread-n-butter- making, money-printing F-150 makes perfect sense. The truck wars these days have grown astonishingly fierce and for good reason. These modern body-on-frame behemoths clear high profit margins with each unit sold. And right now, it's Ford's game to lose. If they don't adapt their best-seller to meet consumer expectations (not to mention the demands of preventing an irreversible climate disaster), they risk losing their competitive advantage. That would be a costly mistake for the automaker, especially as it faces an onslaught of electrified competition in the pickup truck arena.
Just to name a few upcoming competitors off the top of my head, we have the GMC Hummer, the Tesla Cybertruck, and the Rivian R1T - the latter of which Ford has already invested in heavily. The Hummer, Cybertruck, and R1T are just the ones that are most likely to make it to market. On top of those three contenders, you also have possible entries from little startups like the Alpha Wolf, the Canoo Pickup Truck, the Bollinger B2, and the Lordstown Endurance. Out of that bunch, I think that Lordstown Motors is the least likely to actually mass produce a pickup truck that you could one day buy. I kind of get the impression that Lordstown may or may not be just a huge money-laundering scam of some kind. And the truck is hideous. But Alpha, Canoo, and Bollinger can bring it on! Those look to be some genuinely compelling pickup trucks at first blush.
But except for GMC, none of these competitors have the market presence, dealer network, or manufacturing capabilities of Ford Motor Company - not to mention the legion of die-hard brand loyalists who love them some trucks. Ford's hybrid F-150 Powerboost already impressed a bunch of Texans in last winter's historic ice storm. If they can manage to get some butts in the driver's seat of the electric F-150 Lightning, I don't think demand will be a problem. I think supply will.
Obviously, Ford has not yet released any details like the ever important performance metrics or how much this monster will cost. But I do hope Ford manages to keep the Lightning's price tag within the budget of the average working guy or gal. The upcoming Hummer and R1T seem pretty cool 'n all, but how's about a little thrifty to go along with all that nifty, eh? They're expensive! The R1T starts at $67,500, and Hummer Pickup starts at a butt-puckering $79,995! The Cybertruck, meanwhile, will supposedly start around $39,900 for the single-motor, rear-wheel drive version. If Ford wants a hit on par with the rest of the F-150 lineup, then I think they'll need to target the Cybertruck's price range. But that's just an average Joe talking smack.
In any case, we'll be back with all of the electrifying details (sorry) on May 19th. So please check back here for updates and join the conversation in the forum!
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