By Mike Sheldrick, Senior Editor
Ford pulled off what will be remembered as one of 2020’s biggest corporate PR coups with its “reveal” last week of the 2022 F-150 Lightning, available for actual sale and delivery next spring. It was widely applauded in the business and automotive press, and Ford quickly racked up nearly 50,000 $100 deposits.
Presumably, these would be refundable, and in any case, they don’t count for much on a vehicle whose base price will be just under $40,000 (or even $30,000 with state and federal rebates). Still, because the F-150 has been the nation’s pickup leader for over 40 years, these deposits shouldn’t be dismissed as insignificant.
What may be most impressive is that this base version, the F-150 Lightning Pro, is aimed squarely at business fleets. There is the price of course, which is only slightly more than a base ICE F-150, and as befits a work truck, the seats are vinyl but just as important, it looks like a pick-up truck. That preference came through loud and clear in focus groups that Ford consulted during the design of the Lightning.
One feature that appealed to all the focus group members was a massive 14 cu.ft. “frunk” where the engine would have been.
Of course, there are some aspects that may cause concern. One is range, which is expected to be 230 miles. An upgrade to a 300 mile range costs an extra $10,000. Ford did not release details on the expected Total Cost of Ownership under several scenarios, but it did estimate reduced maintenance costs at 40% over an eight-year life, and the company says it is developing a software app. allowing them to calculate the cost of going electric
As for range anxiety, Ford says that its telematics data show that 95% of F-150 customers travel less than 174 miles per day; batteries can be fully charged before the next day on a 50-amp circuit, which might work well when vehicles return to a depot each day.
By aiming at the business market first instead of the individual buyer, Ford may have stolen a march on the competitors who have also promised pickups by next year: Tesla, GM, Rivian, and Lordstown Motors. But even though Ford has emphasized the targeting of fleets, it has trim packages that will compete in luxury features (and, of course, prices, that match those of the competitors’). The Platinum edition, for instance, might top $70,000 before rebates.