The redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck goes on sale in November, but the ongoing development of the all-electric Ford F-150 foretells the trends shaping what we drive and how we drive for the next decade.
For the first time, the bestselling vehicle in America and one that accounts for nearly half of all full-size pickup trucks sold here will come with a hybrid option for 2021. It is one of six powertrains available in rear- or four-wheel drive on the 2021 F-150, which also includes a tried-and-true V-8, a base V-6, a turbodiesel V-6, and two other turbo V-6 engines that outperform the V-8 and signal a bleak future for such displacement.
In a statement issued last week about production of the 2021 F-150, Ford claims the electric version will be more powerful than the others when it comes to market by mid-2022. Here are five things to consider about the electric F-150.
1. But how powerful?
Without any available specs, Ford claims the dual-motor electric F-150 will deliver more horsepower and more torque, and will have the fastest acceleration of any F-150. It has "the ability to tow heavy trailers," Ford said, without getting into the towing superlatives favored by truck marketers.
The V-8 making 400 pound-feet of torque tows up to 11,200 pounds, while the 440 lb-ft of torque in the turbodiesel V-6 can tow up to 11,400 pounds (based on the 2020 model). But the 3.5-liter turbo V-6 made up to 510 lb-ft last year and towed up to 13,200 pounds. The writing is on the wall for the V-8. The new 3.5-liter V-6 paired with an electric motor in the hybrid model is expected to best them all when it comes to output, and has an expected towing capacity of 12,000 pounds.
To be a viable option, the electric version needs to have a battery capacity that can provide at least 300 miles of range, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric crossover launching late this year. Towing near peak capability can cut the electric range in half, and since most truck owners tow across wide open spaces, they're going to need reassurance between charges.
2. There will be competition
Ford says the electric F-150 will be ready by mid-2022. Automakers' plans for EV delivery dates are notoriously optimistic and rarely met. But by that time, expect a nascent electric truck market featuring the Tesla Cybertruck with an alleged 500 miles of range, the Rivian R1T and its anticipated 400 miles of range, and the GMC Hummer—yes, that Hummer—with an absurd 11,500 lb-ft of torque. There are others claiming to be in the race, but the electric F-150 sounds like the most practical of the bunch.
3. Mobile generator
The 2021 F-150 has an in-bed generator with three power outputs, but the highest outputs are reserved for the hybrid models. A 2.4- or 7.2-kw generator can power small tools, TVs, lights, or other small loads to help out around the worksite or campground. Ford says it will "debut new technology" that allows for even more mobile power generation on the electric F-150.
2021 Ford F-150
4. Over-the-air updates
Following Tesla's lead, the 2021 F-150 gets over-the-air updates to keep software as up to date as a smartphone. This is essential not just to keep in-vehicle tech useful but also to roll out potential power upgrades in the electric version or to handle fixes without needing to take the truck to a dealer.
Ford is cushioning customers for the sticker shock by saying that electric vehicles require significantly less maintenance over time than a gas engine—no oil and transmission fluid changes, less brake wear, etc.—adding up to a 40% savings for the vehicle lifetime. But EVs still cost more than their gas counterparts. For now. The 2021 F-150 can eclipse $80,000 in top Limited trim, factoring in up to a $4,495 upcharge for the hybrid powertrain. A six-figure fully loaded electric F-150 might not be that far-fetched.