The Lightning can store so much power that, in a blackout, it can supply a house’s normal power usage for three days, according to Ford. If the house conserves power, it can keep the lights on for more than a week, Zhang said. Talking about this feature, Ford employees and Farley himself have referenced the Texas blackouts. The Lightning is a technology of resilience, of climate adaptation.
5. Chemically speaking, decarbonization—the move away from carbon-based fossil fuels—is a shift to less dense forms of energy. Gasoline, for its many flaws, contains an enormous amount of potential energy in a very small amount of mass. Transitioning away from it means, in practical terms, that electric vehicles will be much heavier than gasoline-powered vehicles. The F-150 Lightning weighs 6,500 pounds, about the same as the gargantuan Hummer H2 of the mid-2000s. The battery alone is 1,800 pounds.
These are hefty, dangerous vehicles. Ford has said that it will send software updates to its EVs over the air, and that it will soon transmit its new autonomous-driving feature, BlueCruise, to its EV fleet. But the tonnage of the Lightning, specifically, means that it must especially prioritize advanced safety features, sensors, and auto-braking. Otherwise pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers of smaller and lighter vehicles will die.
6. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the F-150 Lightning is that its target audience is not necessarily consumers. For the first time ever, Ford is selling a version of the F-150 aimed at corporate fleet managers: Think landscaping companies, HVAC-repair companies, electricians, any company that operates multiple trucks at once. Corporate fleets are, in many ways, even better suited for electrification than consumer vehicles. They are driven every day but rarely travel long distances, they benefit from the lower upkeep costs of an EV, and they are usually stored in the same place overnight—which means they can be charged overnight. Ford says that for the first time, fleet managers will be able to see the location of all their trucks on a map, and they will be able to monitor their charge levels remotely. This combination of lower fuel costs and greater workplace surveillance strikes me as all but guaranteeing the electrification of many corporate fleets.
7. And it signals a change for Ford, that most American of automakers. For the past few years, companies that specialize in one or another sector of the economy—food delivery or taxi service, for instance—have chased higher valuations by claiming to be technology companies. But the onset of electrification means that car companies will actually be technology companies, and almost content companies: Ford’s customers will spend a good part of their day looking at a screen, and Ford will constantly have to improve the experience of looking at that screen.
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