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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.

Trump voices support for Saturday's pro-Capitol riots rally

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Thursday expressed solidarity with people facing prosecution in connection to the Capitol insurrection.

Why it matters: The statement was issued ahead of Saturday's rally to protest the treatment of Capitol rioters. Over 600 known federal defendants face charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Clinton-linked lawyer indicted in investigation of FBI's Russia probe

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

A grand jury has returned an indictment against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer whose firm represented the 2016 Clinton campaign, for lying to the FBI about not representing "any client" when he presented them with allegations about a secret Trump Organization back-channel to a Russian bank.

Why it matters: It's the second criminal charge stemming from special counsel John Durham's review of possible misconduct by the intelligence community and prosecutors who investigated the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia.