Ford’s new electric F-150 will resurrect the name ‘Lightning’

By Jenny LescohierMay 11, 2021

Momentum is building behind auto makers and construction equipment manufacturers that are introducing electric models

It’s official: The name of Ford’s soon-to-be-unveiled electric F-150 will be ‘Lightning,’ resurrecting a nostalgic sub-nameplate once used on certain Ford pickup models and still loved by collectors today.

According to media reports, Ford hasn’t revealed much about the capabilities or design of the vehicle, which is slated to go into production in spring of 2022, though it released a teaser image highlighting the Lightning insignia and a video showing its towing prowess. 

Watch the video here

The company will show off the Ford F-150 Lightning for the first time at 9:30 p.m. on May 19 in a live-streamed event at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, MI.

“Every so often, a new vehicle comes along that disrupts the status quo and changes the game … Model T, Mustang, (Toyota) Prius, (Tesla) Model 3. Now comes the F-150 Lightning,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley in a statement from the company.

“America’s favorite vehicle for nearly half a century is going digital and fully electric,” he said. “F-150 Lightning can power your home during an outage; it’s even quicker than the original F-150 Lightning performance truck; and it will constantly improve through over-the-air updates.”

The USA Today reported the vehicle will be built by UAW members at the all-new Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in southeast Michigan. Farley referred to the Ford Rouge Complex on Monday as “the cathedral of American manufacturing.”

The iconic F-150 has been central to the 118-year-old automaker’s success and to American culture. The F-Series is second only to the iPhone when it comes to branded consumer product sales, according to an economic analysis in June 2020 from the Boston Consulting Group.

According to the USA Today, while the iPhone generated $55 billion in revenue to $42 billion for the F-Series in 2019, the F-Series generated more revenue than the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League combined — which was $40 billion, the analysis showed.

Types of electric vehicles

Ford is not the first or only manufacturer upping its electrification game, of course. General Motors announced in January that it will phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. 

Major construction equipment makers - such as Case, Komatsu, Doosan Infracore, to name just a few - have been introducing electric machines for years and in some cases, are devoting entire divisions to the effort. 

What’s in a name?

Ford hasn’t used the Lightning name on a production vehicle since the early 2000s when it was applied to the sportiest version of the F-150, Motor Trend reported.

But Ford has a history of resurrecting classic names for new versions of its “icons” lineup: namely those related to the Mustang and the Bronco. The idea is to leverage these iconic names to sell more vehicles by building each nameplate into compelling standalone sub-brands.

For the electric F-150, the Lightning name is a natural choice. The Lightning logo incorporates a distinctive lightning bolt beneath the letters - a visual well suited to an electric vehicle.

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