Electrek sat down with Darren Palmer, head of battery-electric vehicles at Ford, to discuss the automaker’s launch of the F-150 Lightning and the company’s broader electric ambitions.
After Ford unveiled the F-150 Lightning this week, the EV community was for the most part impressed by the specs and the price point that the automaker announced.
The performance are comparable or better than Ford’s best gas-powered pickup trucks.
On the electric side, with a starting price under $40,000 for a base version with 230 miles (370 km) of range and an extended range option with 300 miles (480 km) of range, it is hard to complain.
Some will of course, but for the most part, the EV community seems to agree that Ford could sell as many F-150 Lightning pickup trucks as they can produce.
That’s why when we sat down with Darren Palmer, head of battery-electric vehicles at Ford, our first question was about bringing the electric pickup to volume production.
Palmer said that Ford is not sharing planned production capacity, but he made it clear that they are aiming for volume production of the electric truck:
“I think you can see we are not in this to build a couple of trucks and the facility that you saw President Biden visit this week, where the truck is going to be built, is significant. We also need to get the batteries to do this. We are doing that and you are going to see more about that at the capital market day next Wednesday, but again, we are not in this for a couple of trucks.”
Ford hasn’t confirmed the battery pack capacity of the truck yet, but both options are definitely over 100 kWh.
The company is well aware that if they plan to produce the F-150 Lightning in volume, it is going to need a lot of battery cells.
A supply partnership with SK Innovation was secured early on to supply the cells for the electric F-150 and Ford took it a step further this week with a joint-venture with SK to deploy another 60 GWh of battery cell production capacity in the US.
In our interview, Palmer hinted at more announcements on the battery front during an event coming on Wednesday.
Palmer also made a point that Ford relies heavily on customer feedback in the development of its vehicles and the F-150 Lightning is no exception.
It starts with commercial customers who require reliable vehicles at the right price point and retail consumers benefit from that while Ford also listens to them for all the features and niceties that you’d expect in a consumer vehicle.
Therefore, with the F-150 Lightning, Ford made sure that truck buyers would get all the capacity and features they are used to plus all the advantages of electric vehicles.
One of those features that Ford is betting on is Vehicle-to-Load, which enables F-150 Lightning owners to power their home, a job site, or virtually anything using the truck’s battery pack.
Palmer also explained that Ford is trying not to overwhelm buyers with electrification and it is trying to simplify the process of going electric.
For example, with the extended range version, Ford is providing an 80-amp charger that enables charging the large battery of the truck overnight.
The company is also not releasing all the nitty-gritty details of the truck’s electric powertrain, like the kWh capacity of the battery pack, which Palmer believes most people don’t really understand, but he did say that Ford will release all the details, including usable and full battery pack capacity, ahead of production next year.
We expect Ford to share more details and highlight more features of the F-150 Lightning over the next year – leading up to the start of production in mid-2022.
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