Opinion: Ford’s F-150 Lightning is Just What the EV Market Needs

This article was written by Paul A. Eisenstein for TheDetroitBureau.com

DETROIT, MI (04.29.22) – When the first Ford F-150 Lightning rolls off the assembly line at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center near Detroit today it will join a growing list of new battery-electric vehicles. By my estimate, there’ll be as many as 60 on the road by the end of 2022, more than triple the count last year.

But Ford’s new pickup isn’t just another BEV. It’s the spark the market needs to bring battery technology into the mainstream, connecting with potential buyers that hardly glance at earlier models like the Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Bolt or Volkswagen ID.4.

With much fanfare, Ford begins production of the first customer-ready models of the F-150 Lightning EV today.

“Those vehicles still appeal to the early adopter community,” suggested Sam Abuelsamid, the principal auto analyst at Guidehouse Insights. “This is the first BEV to really move into the mainstream market.”

The broader F-Series has been, of course, America’s best-selling nameplate for 40 straight years — and the number one pickup for 45. Even after the production cuts suffered last year due to the semiconductor shortage, Ford managed to sell 726,004 F-Series pickups in 2021, far surpassing next-in-line models like the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado.

One year after Ford confirmed construction of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, the first F-150 Lightning pre-production units was ready.

And where pickups were once the purview of farmers and contractors, they’ve today become mainstream vehicles, nearly as commonplace in the New York suburbs as on Texas ranches. If you were simply to go by average transaction price, industry data reveal the F-Series to be the best-selling luxury vehicle in America. And you certainly can outfit it like one, with upgraded trims like the Platinum, King Ranch and Limited loaded with leather, wood and the latest technologies.

In the automotive market, familiarity typically brings comfort, rather than contempt. Making the switch to an all-electric version of the truck becomes that much easier when there seems little to sacrifice and plenty to gain. At up to 7,700 pounds, Lightning has more than enough towing capacity for most pickup buyers, and its range of as much as 320 miles is significantly better than many of the new battery-electric sedans and SUVs now coming to market.

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