Ford Bets Big on the Lightning Electric Truck

 

The electrification of vehicles is happening, and big brands don’t want to be left behind.  A case in point is Ford, which is betting big on its own electric truck.  Known as the F150 Lightning, this light duty, full size electric truck joins the 2022 model lineup.  

The F150 Lightning is coming to market just in time.  GM has announced an electric truck for 2022.  Rivian and Tesla are supposed to have their electric trucks on the market by then as well.  If pricing is any indication, Ford may be in just the right spot to grab buyers.  It may even lead to a glut of used trucks as people start trading in their gas guzzlers for something much more efficient. 

Ford comes from a position of strength.  One can look at sales records going back 45 years and find the F150 in the lead in the U.S. every time.  Even when challenged by new rivals, it manages to take the lead in the end.  

A case in point is the Ford Ranger.  While it was off the market, the Chevy Colorado and its sibling the GMC Canyon were winning the awards.  The Honda Ridgeline came back and claimed a share of the midsize market.  Then the completely redesigned Ranger swept back into the market and seized the narrative with its best-in-class towing ability and Ecoboost fuel-saving engine. 

Marketplace Calculations at Work

Ford seems to have calculated exactly how to capture the marketplace.  The announcement took some by surprise, building interest.  The other trucks have not come to market yet, and their reputation is unproven compared to that of the F150. 

This pricing scheme makes the electric truck affordable by today’s full-size standards.  Furthermore, in the U.S., buyers can take advantage of a $7500 tax incentive.  This drops the price potentially lower than some of the most affordable versions of today’s gas-powered trucks. This means it can actually compete against many light duty, full size editions by other standard truck manufacturers.

While the individual purchase is important in the truck marketplace, the bread and butter is fleet sales.  Here again, Ford is aiming to capture shoppers that won’t take a chance on new products like the Tesla and Rivian.  Fleet managers want to buy something they know works, and a known brand like Ford will be appealing to them. 

Then there’s the matter of how odd the Tesla truck looks. This may affect first-time electric buyers as they seek the comforting muscular look of the familiar Ford over the Cybertruck’s space-age shape and style.

As for the GMC Hummer Electric Truck and the Rivian truck, the Ford Lightning is about half the cost.  This affordability is a further guarantee for Ford when it comes to fleet sales. High prices shut out that competition for the foreseeable future. 

Capability is King

Still, all of this marketplace planning would go wrong if the product couldn’t compete. Ford  managed to create a truck that can do the work expected.  The tow rating for the most affordable Lightning Pro is 7,700 pounds. That exceeds the typical V6 tow rating of a gas-powered truck, which is what is typically bought in this price range, if you include the tax incentive. 

For a fleet manager, that will mean a drastic cut in fuel costs without an interruption in work flow. After all, many fleets don’t need excessive towing power.  The entry-level powertrain produces a combined 426 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque. The second-level powertrain has the same torque rate, but it produces 563 horsepower.  

Under the hood, there is the equivalent of a car trunk.  This gives fleet owners an additional way to move products or cargo.  It’s definitely a plus for individuals who use their pickup for travel. 

The Price of Electric Power

The Ford Lightning is being introduced at an MSRP just dollars below $40,000. This buys a 230-mile range battery.  The Tesla Cybertruck has about the same price and claims a 250-mile range with its entry-level battery.  For both trucks, the price rises by about $10,000 for the longer range battery.  The Lightning range is 300 miles at that point.

Rivian is promising a 300-mile range with its basic truck, costing about $73,000.  The GMC Hummer is promising a 350-mile range, costing about $80,000.  

Going back to the issue of fleet sales, Ford is striking a sweet spot between price and range.  After all, few pickup trucks go 100 miles during a work day, much less 200.  That leaves the manager in a good position to keep the truck charged.  

The Final Analysis

At the very least, Ford has positioned itself to slow the momentum of new rivals Tesla and Rivian as it brings the Lightning to market.  It has reputation, affordability, and marketplace savvy on its side.  This may be enough to establish the Lightning’s place in the market and maintain the F150’s stranglehold on pickup sales. 


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