Ford F-150 Lightning strikes Canadian dealers as a winner, will customers agree?

“I think it really brings battery-elec- tric [technology] more to the main- stream,” said Michael Wyant, COO of the Wyant Group, which owns two Ford stores in Saskatchewan.

One of those stores, Jubilee Ford in Saskatoon, booked 13 preorders in the 24 hours after the Lightning’s May 19 launch, Wyant said. That was more than it had reserved for the gas- oline-powered Bronco utility vehicle in the 24 hours after its reveal, he said. Ford Motor Co. said in late June that it surpassed 100,000 reservations worldwide for the Lightning.

“If there’s already interest today, I can imagine a few years from now when the technology is proven out to be effective in our climate, there’s going to be more and more interest,” Wyant said.

Ford hopes the truck’s capability, design and price will help it appeal to the F-150 customer base. The entry-lev- el XLT model will start at about $68,000 in Canada, not including shipping, when it goes on sale in the spring, while an entry-level model for commer- cial fleets starts at about $58,000. The gasoline-powered 2021 F-150 XLT starts at $38,035 without shipping, according to Ford Canada’s website.

DESIGNED TO EXCITE

With the standard battery pack, the front and rear electric motors drive all four wheels and produce 426 horse- power and 775 pound-feet of torque. Maximum range is projected to be 230 miles (370 kilometres). With the extend- ed-range battery, horsepower increases to 563 and range increases to 300 miles (480 kilometres). Torque is unchanged.

By comparison, the current 5.0-litre V-8 gasoline engine makes 400 horse- power and 410 pound-feet, while the hybrid model makes 430/510.

The Lightning’s power and addition- al features, such as large front trunk — or frunk — and the ability to power a home during an outage, are designed to get existing customers excited about electric pickups, as opposed to trying to create a niche product for EV enthu- siasts.

‘STRONG REPUTATION’

Electrifying the F-150, the top-selling vehicle in North America, “is signifi- cant,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at U.S.-based Cox Automotive. While plans for other electric trucks by brands including GMC, Tesla and Rivian were unveiled before the Lightning, the automaker “may have a leg up on the others” because of its “strong reputation” in the segment.

“Our survey data shows interest in electric pickup trucks is there,” Krebs wrote in an email to Automotive News Canada. “The question is how many of those buyers are there, is the pie big enough for all the players jumping into the market and who those buyers will pick.”

Getting many of those drivers into the Lightning will be critical for Ford, which wants EVs to comprise 40 per cent of its global sales. Ford sold 128,649 F-Series pickups in 2020, good for 54 per cent of all the vehicles the automaker sold in Canada and 8.3 per cent of the total Canadian new-vehicle market.

“If there’s one vehicle that’s going to give us an indication of whether these EVs are going to take off, it will be this Lightning,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said during a May interview on CNBC. A request to interview Ford Canada CEO Bev Goodman for this report was declined.

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