The Ford F150 Lightning

How to make an impractical technology look good

May 23, 2021

So Ford unveiled what they've been doing with the money the government has been giving them lately. The F150 Lightning is being praised as the newest and most exiting innovation in the electric car world. I just happened to not be doing anything when they made the announcement so I watched it live. The Ford F150 Lightning is the first electric vehicle to provide gimmicks other than just being electric or looking like it belongs in a video game. Ford featured many innovative things that were present in this truck, namely a large storage area in the front where the engine would be in a normal truck, multiple power outlets located around the truck which apparently give off enough current to power equipment like welders, and it has the ability to act as a backup battery for your house in the event of a power outage. But of course the most shocking thing about Ford's announcement was the price, one can take home a brand new Ford F150 Lightning for the low price of $40,000.

But what is Ford really giving you for $40,000 here? What is Ford hiding? They were so busy showing off how many different things the Lightning could, that it could have been easy for someone not to realize that they never bothered to mention how long the Lightning's battery would last doing these things. If I were to be driving along with a trailer and a violent bump were to come along and cause the contents of the trailer to hit the wall of the trailer hard enough to crack the steel cage that held the trailer's walls in place, would I be able to abandon my trailer and drive my F150 Lightning 50 miles home to pick up my welder and then drive back to the damaged trailer and weld in some more steel to fix the cracked part then haul my trailer back home just in time to save the contents of my fridge by plugging it into my truck right as an earthquake knocks out power for half a week? While the marketing may make you believe that this truck could easily pull off this miracle, this is simply an impossible feat. If you were to try this there is a very good chance that you would end up stranded because the Ford's battery is not infinite, with an range of only 230 miles the F150 Lightning is incredibly limited in what it can actually accomplish. It is far from the miracle truck that Ford and the whole EV movement would want you to think it is.

It is important to put into perspective how bad that range really is. A base model gas powered F150 costs about $29,000 but on a full tank it can drive over 430 miles, nearly twice the range of the theoretically superior Lightning. It is also important to remember that the 230 mile range of the Lightning is really only achieved when it is under ideal conditions. Ford hasn't given us any data on how far you can haul a trailer with it, how long it can power your welder or keep your food cold, and it hasn't said anything about how extreme weather affects the Lightning's range. The 300 mile range of the upgraded $50,000 is still shorter than the range of my thirty year old Cadillac with a thirsty V8.

In fact talking about the range of an electric car is almost always dishonest. Sure one of these trucks can probably go 230 miles on a single charge but they never will, it is too risky to get the batteries close to dying because a dead battery means calling a tow truck rather than buying a gas can. And even if that weren't the case your range is limited to charging locations rather than actual range. Lets say you have an electric truck with a range of 200 miles and you are taking a 350 mile trip, it takes your truck a half hour to charge and you can average fifty miles an hour while driving, how long should your trip take? Seven hours for driving and thirty minutes for charging, seven and a half hours right? Wrong, the amount of time it takes you to travel 350 miles is dependent on where you can stop to charge, if you are lucky and there is a charging station between mile 150 and 200 then you'd only need to stop once, but if the charging stations are at mile 100 and mile 300 then you will be forced to stop at both making your total trip time eight hours, and thats if you get lucky, it is possible that there aren't any charging stations along the shortest path to your destination so you may be forced to take a 400 mile route rather than the shorter 350 mile route, or what if fast charging is not available at one of the charging stations, a half hour pit stop could turn into a three hour one.

Gas cars don't have this problem because it only takes a few minutes to fill them up and it is hard to find a 50 mile stretch of road that does not have a gas station. Interestingly in California one out of five electric car owners have either replaced their electric car, or plan to replace their electric cars with regular gas powered ones. These people have found that they do not like the added inconvenience of constantly having to find a place to charge and wait rather than being able to fill up and go. And remember, electric cars have yet to become mainstream and affordable, that statistic is not one in five average people, that statistic is one in five early adopters of electric vehicles, these are people who went out of their way to get an electric car, imagine how high that ratio would be if it were regular people being forced to deal with these inconveniences, I wouldn't be surprised if it became nine out of ten. Think about it, the American government gives people who buy electric cars $7,500 via a kickback, and many other countries do the same, why should any logical person expect a product which the government pays them to buy to be any good?

If you'd like to read more about the Ford F150 Lightning ridiculousness then I recommend this article. The guy who wrote that came to conclusions similar to mine plus he did more research (so I got to steal some numbers from him). Anyways I hope you never fall for the scam of an electric car, they are practical for only a very small number of use cases, and especially don't buy a Ford F150 Lightning.