With the recent introduction of the Ford Maverick and now the all-electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro, Ford is showing the working class some love. Now there are fleet solutions that make life even better – potentially.
In the recent past, we had a moment with the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro which was added to a video, but not a whole day behind the wheel. That all changed when Ford brought us out to Sonoma, California for another crack at the all-electric pickup truck. Full disclosure, I wanted to drive the bare-bones, Lightning Pro with the smaller battery as it retails for about $40,000. Unfortunately, we could only get our hands on one with the extended range (131 kWh) battery, and the 9.6 kW Pro-Power On-Board charging system. The price jumped to just under $47,000.
That version of the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro is a fleet vehicle only. You simply cannot get the Lightning Pro with the bigger battery and the 9.6 kW Pro Power system unless you buy a fleet truck. You see, anyone can get the base model Pro model, but you need to be a fleet customer to get the beefier model, like the one I tested. It’s a shame to be sure.
Still, at that price point, either truck is a hell of a bargain. My tester is a simple pickup truck, with the ability to run a small worksite. It feels a LOT like driving a regular F-150 until you get aggressive with the accelerator. On top of that, the Ford Pro telematic and logistic onboard software makes it ideal for certain kinds of fleets. More on that in a minute.
F-150 Lightning Pro driving impressions:
The F-150 Lightning Pro handles great, four-wheel independent suspension on coil springs helps, and it hauls ass. Seriously, you get 775-lbs feet of torque, no matter which battery you get. The base model comes with 452 horsepower (98 kWh battery), and a maximum of 230 miles of range. Pony up the extra bucks and you can get 580 hp and up to 320 miles range using the 131 kWh battery. Also, you can only get the Pro-Power onboard charging system with a bigger battery.
Out of all this goodness, not having Pro-Power, or the bigger battery available with the least expensive model hurts.
If you’re an ape behind the wheel and punch the accelerator – you WILL move like a scalded cat. Projected 0 to 60 mph times are in the mid-4-second range. That’s pretty close to the Ram TRX. Remember, this rig weighs well over 6,000-lbs. That type of speed, mixed in with its EV efficacy is mind-boggling.
All Lightning Pros come with 18-inch wheels, and ours was equipped with Michelins. Considering the somewhat stiff ride, I think the spongier tire option is better than the 20-inch wheels equipped with tires with less sidewall. Either way, you will get Ford’s renowned, (or infamous) over-boosted steering. It’s not actually over-boosted, it’s simply lifeless and offers little resistance. Still, this is a truck and not a sports car.
The brakes are not much different than a regular F-150; perhaps they are a tad tighter. I like the one pedal option, which also helps the re-gen system grab more power when slowing down. Once I got used to it, that was the only way I wanted to drive. Like all F-150s, the interior is quiet, and the highway ride is pretty good too.
I guarantee that, for truck people, this is the easiest EV to get used to.
Ford Pro E-Telematics and a real, hard-working fleet:
We met with Marissa Ledbetter of Vino Farms in Sonoma County. She is part of a pilot program using both Lightning Pros, Ford Pro E-telematics, and Ford Pro Charging solutions with her fleet.
Ford showed us the basic breakdown. It indicated that her fleet, consisting of over 50 trucks, spent a weekly amount of money idling. Over $500 dollars was spent weekly. We’re not talking about idling in traffic, we’re talking about idling at various worksites and during other activities, like loading. On top of that, some of her workers forgot to wear a seatbelt.
“We have over 50 vehicles on Ford Pro Telematics and have already identified insights that are improving our bottom line like where gas is wasted from long idle times or driver safety alerts from them not wearing their seat belts. Ford Pro Telematics has improved efficiency and productivity by helping us reduce vehicle downtime through complete visibility into maintenance needs, and we expect those benefits to grow as electric vehicles and charging stations become a more regular part of our operations.”Ford
Simply put, if you add it all up, it’s over $20,000 worth of gasoline used idling. Granted, not all that could be recouped by changing driving habits, but some of it can.
I found that part compelling, but there was something else. For $126.00 – and a $20.00 monthly fee, you can add the Ford pro E-Telematics system to an existing pickup truck or vehicle, provided that it has an OBD-II port. Fleets, the system has the potential of being a game-changer.
There’s more. Large companies, like PG&E, are going to use the Lightning Pro, Ford Pro E-telematics and Ford Pro Charging solutions in their local fleet. During this phase, the energy management company will evaluate the Lightning Pro’s vehicle-to-grid technology.
“PG&E will assimilate the electric vehicles into its fleet operations alongside Ford Pro charging stations and explore leveraging the F-150 Lightning Pro batteries to shave peak energy usage at one of its depot locations.”
We’ll see how that plays out in the near future.
A 2022 Ford f-150 Lightning Pro has a ton of potential, but…
For $40,000, you can get a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro that comes with a 12.3″ SYNC4 infotainment system (no XM/Sirius), and a 12.3″ digital display (no Blu Cruise), and power windows. It has standard AWD/4WD, vinyl seats, and floors, along with no frilly extras. That’s still a LOT of stuff for a full-size pickup truck.
… but …
You are limited to 230 miles and have no 9.6 kW Pro-Power On-Board charging system. On top of that, even though it can tow up to 7,700 lbs (up to 10K with the bigger battery), the range will be pretty limited. If you’re careful, the battery’s life can be extended. That requires you to charge concisely, along with Ford’s parameters. That means sticking to charging no more than 80% unless you absolutely need max range. Even doing this leads to the inevitable: the battery will degrade over time.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X base model with AWD and the Volkswagen ID.4 with AWD both cost more than the base model Ford F-150 Lightning Pro. Sure, the range of the Volkswagen is a bit more, but look what you’re getting for the money. Hell, the regular Ford F-150 XL 4X4 with the base 3.3-liter engine costs more.
I know, I know – “BUT, THE GRID!!”
Yes, it’s going to take a while for the grid to catch up; however, I’ve owned a small electric car for two years and it’s been pretty good. My wattage usage for that vehicle is about $50.00 more per month. That’s with powering up a 30 kWh battery. Something that’s more than twice the size will require more than twice the output to charge. Still, it seems like a good tradeoff for some.
There are some exciting solutions for power solutions coming around the corner. This includes independently powered chargers, hydrogen-powered chargers, mini-grids, and more. That’s on top of evolving updates to solar and wind power.
Don’t forget that these trucks have the potential to power your home if your power goes out.
There are a lot of us who use their pickup as a commuter and a weekend DIY vehicle. That may be exactly what this truck is good for…unless you have a fleet, then it might be even better. Now, I wonder how the other automakers are going to respond?