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Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck can power an entire work site. Photo: Ford

Electric vehicles have finally hit the mainstream: America's most popular model, the Ford F-series pickup truck, is going electric at a decidedly mass-market price: $39,974.

Why it matters: Until now, EVs have appealed mostly to wealthy technology fans or environmentalists. But the F-150 Lightning is aimed at everyday truck owners — making it a potential turning point in the electric vehicle revolution.

Ford's biggest challenge will be to convince skeptical buyers that electric trucks are up to the job.

  • People buy trucks so they can tow trailers and haul heavy loads — which require extra power, slashing a truck's driving range.

To offset those fears, Ford loaded the F-150 Lightning with new technology. And it's pitching the truck as a generator on wheels — its batteries can power a home for three days in a blackout, Ford says.

  • At a work site or campsite, owners can offload up to 9.6 kW of electricity to power tools or appliances from a variety of outlets in the truck's cabin, bed or "frunk" — the massive front trunk where the engine would ordinarily be.
  • The Lightning comes with a standard 230-mile range pack or an extended range battery, good for 300 miles.
  • While using the onboard power, the system can send a smartphone alert if you're in danger of running out of juice.
  • Sensors can also estimate how much drivers are hauling and combine that data with driving conditions to give them an accurate, real-time estimate of how far they can go.

What they're saying: “It really is the smartest F-150 we’ve ever made,” said Darren Palmer, general manager, Ford's Battery Electric Vehicles.

Yes, but: Like other manufacturers, Ford is coping with supply chain issues that are threatening production.

  • On Wednesday, Ford said it would idle more factories, including the one where the F-150 is built, due to a shortage of semiconductors.
  • On Thursday, it's expected to announce a joint venture with South Korean battery maker SK Innovation to support its electric vehicle rollout, Reuters reported.

What to watch: Ford will face plenty of competition in the electric pickup market, including new plug-in models from Tesla, GM and Rivian.

  • But its sub-$40,000 starting price — before any federal or state tax credits — shows Ford doesn't intend to yield its truck leadership.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 27, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The other job for batteries in boosting the electric vehicle market

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The electric mobility company Revel is installing battery storage at a New York City charging hub in a partnership that represents a growing and evolving trend in the industry.

Driving the news: Revel is adding storage from the firm Electric Era to help power its large charging "superhub" in Brooklyn that offers public access and charging for Revel's ride-hailing vehicles.

Updated 29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18, 2022. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.