Fresh off its new title of 2023 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, the Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup has just been tapped as North American Truck of the Year by the judging organization NACTOY. As for wrapping your hands around the zero emission steering wheel of the F-150 anytime soon, forget it. That’s a no-go unless you already have an order in the pipeline…or maybe not, as the case may be.
The Mystery Of The Disappearing Ford F-150 Lightning Pickup Trucks
Ford began hitting the sustainable mobility sweet spots with the new F-150 Lightning right out of the box, including a hookup with the solar developer Sunrun in 2021 (check out our complete coverage here). The vehicle’s two-way EV battery also provides some unique marketing opportunities.
With all the buzz, it’s little wonder that the following message currently pops up when you go online to see about reserving a new F-150 Lightning of your very own: “Due to high demand, the current model year is no longer available for retail order. Contact your dealer for more information.”
Ouch! What gives?
Supply chain issues and managerial decisions could be in play, as noted by CleanTechnica editor and CEO Zach Shahan last week. One of our readers left a note in the comment thread that suggests another factor, too.
A hint in the same direction popped up late in 2021, after Ford launched the Mustang Mach-E in a blizzard of publicity.
Somewhat lost in the bonfire was the interest of the NYPD and other fleet vehicle managers in the new Mach-E. Ford also launched an all-electric version of its popular Transit commercial van in 2021, and it followed up with a more compact version for the European market last year.
It’s All About The Fleet
If you guessed that commercial customers might still be able to get hold of a reservation for an F150 Lightning, run right out and buy yourself a cigar.
Currently, Ford’s online fleet showroom is showcasing the 2022 commercial version, the F-150 Lightning Pro, with no out-of-stock disclaimer:
“The next defining moment in the move to electrification is here with the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro. A truck designed specifically to offer what you need for commercial use. It’s the same powerful, tough and smart F-150 you’ve always relied on. But now, it offers a range of incredibly smart solutions to make the job easier.”
“Including the largest, most accessible front trunk of any electric pickup, overnight charging solutions that allow you to start the day at a full charge and Pro Power Onboard which turns your truck into a fully-functioning generator,” Ford adds. “All in addition to a powertrain that lets you work in places you couldn’t before and requires less scheduled maintenance.”
Truck Of The Year
Ford kind of buries that thing about “work in more places,” but it’s a real game-changer for commercial pickups. Instead of the noise and pollution that emerge from an idling truck and related equipment, the F150 Lightning purrs like a kitten.
Don’t just take our word for it. The vehicle judging organization NACTOY cited iSeeCars.com and Forbes reporter Karl Brauer, who said that “Ford’s effort to create an all-electric F-150 is remarkable because it combines the standard truck’s dimensions, which means it retains massive aftermarket support, with substantial upgrades to areas like storage and mobile power support.”
“It’s really the best of all worlds, giving the F-150 Lightning a wide range of applications for both traditional and new-to-the-segment truck customers,” he emphasized.
Ford president and CEO Jim Farley also promised that the F-150 Lightning bottleneck will ease this year.
“Earning North America’s Truck of the Year is huge for the team that has been working so hard to build and deliver as many Lightnings as possible, as quickly as possible,”he said. “We’re moving fast to further ramp production to a 150,000 run rate this fall and pushing to improve every aspect of this truck.”
Motor Trend also had this to say last December:
“With pickup trucks being the bestselling vehicles in America by a wide margin, converting them to EVs has the potential to make an outsized impact on everything from air quality to gas prices to global warming—but only if truck buyers want them.”
“The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is the first EV pickup to appeal directly to the existing truck market, doing its job so convincingly that it’s our 2023 MotorTrend Truck of the Year.
Do You Really Need An F-150 Lightning?
That “existing truck market” seems like another clue. Perhaps if you already own a conventional F-150 pickup truck for commercial use, you have a better chance of jumping the line to get the F-150 Lightning Pro.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Ford is mindful about its fleet business. About two years ago our friends over at Electrek surmised that individual, non-commercial car buyers might as well forget about buying an F-150 Lightning any time in the near future, partly due to the interest of fleet managers in all-electric pickups.
As a worst-case scenario, Electrek suggested that disappointed Ford customers would be forced into the arms of conventional gas-guzzling F-150s, of which there are still plenty.
That’s not necessarily the case. Fleets tend to turn over rapidly, so it won’t be long before used F-150 Lightnings begin hitting the used truck market. Individuals who are in the market for a zero emission utility vehicle also have other options, such as electric SUVs and vans.
Scaling Up The Zero Emission Pickup
At the bigger end of the zero emission truck scale, Ford has also been making noises about introducing a fuel cell version of its F-550 Super Duty truck. The company has engaged with Super Truck 3, the latest iteration of the Energy Department’s ongoing SuperTruck program.
Automakers are also beginning to tease the idea of using hydrogen gas directly in a combustion engine, or indirectly by using green hydrogen to produce synthetic electrofuels.
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Photo (screenshot): Ford F-150 Lightning Pro electric pickup truck courtesy of Ford.
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Source: Clean Technica