Iconic Ford F-150 Lightning set to be reborn as an EV ute

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Words: Matthew Hansen
3 May 2021

If you were to quiz most Kiwis on what Ford’s best-selling pick-up is, chances are they’ll think locally and name the Ranger. However, the F-150 is the blue-oval’s real cash cow; a ute that’s never been offered here but sells by the thousand in its homeland.

Few F-150 variants are more illustrious than the current Raptor, but one that may come close is the Lightning. The trim-level was offered twice, firstly in 1993 as part of the ninth-gen F-150 line-up. Then again in the 10th-gen F-150 line-up in 1999.

Developed by Ford’s SVT (Street Vehicle Team) division, most will remember the second Lightning more, thanks to its frequent appearances in pop culture (video games and Fast & Furious, included) plus the rising popularity of the F-150 at the time.

It got a tuned, supercharged version of Ford’s 5.4-litre V8, producing 268kW in the early years and 283kW at the mid-life refresh. Unlike the later Raptors, the Lightning was engineered to handle tarmac, not gravel. As such it came with new suspension, low-profile tyres, and more.

Ford hasn’t produced a Lightning variant since 2004, but that appears to be about to change according to the latest wave of speculation surrounding its electric F-150 model range. A report by American outlet Car & Driver says that the moniker will be returning for Ford’s first fully electric F-150.

Ford hasn’t denied the claims, instead leaning on that other pillar of response; “we don’t comment on speculation about future products”.

It’s worth noting that there’s immediate precedence of Ford using iconic nameplates for its electric cars. People need look no further than the Mustang Mach-E, which borrows two from the Ford past-model playbook. The recent return of the Bronco badge could be cited as evidence, too, it being another name from the ‘90s that recently returned from the dead.

The Lightning’s former position as the quickest F-150 on tarmac would likely make the name apt for the new electric F-150. Ford has already confirmed that the model will have “more horsepower and torque than any F-150 available today”, coupled with the quickest acceleration figures.

It could be a critical release for Ford, given the focus around electric utes in America right now. GMC’s new Hummer EV has launched, with the Rivian R1-T, Tesla Cybertruck, an electric variant of Chevrolet Silverado, and more set to follow.

 

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