Oh the weather outside is frightful…
Hoover’s story, which published December 5, is one of a growing number of negative reviews from auto buffs across the country concerning lackluster battery power in Ford’s first full-size electric pickup.
After googling "F-150 Lightning range" on December 6, six out of the first 10 search results addressed issues with range. A road trip story from Automotive News appeared to sum up best what drivers are concerned about most with Lightning.
“Range anxiety. I felt it intensely last week when I took a Ford F-150 Lightning on a roughly 300-mile trip from Detroit’s northern ‘burbs to a little town in Ohio called Pandora about 19 miles southwest of Findlay,” writes reporter Richard Truett in a story published November 8. “After 9 hours on the road, I limped home with the equivalent of about a gallon of fuel left.”
While Truett points to a lack of charging infrastructure as a big factor for range anxiety, Hoover’s story cites cold temperatures as a more credible threat.
While driving his F-150 Lightning XLT Lariat on a cold morning hovering just 5 degrees above freezing, Hoover is astonished to see how a cold powertrain battery can accelerate range depletion.
He recalls in the 18-minute-long video how he began his trip with 149 miles of range, and then after driving 64 miles, range dropped 75% to 37 miles remaining.
“It’s 37 degrees outside and we have 37 miles of range remaining,” Hoover says moments before his eyes bulge at the thought of losing range to cold weather. “We started with 149 and we went 64 miles so that’s 120 miles of range in 60 or so miles outside. Towing nothing! It’s just cold outside. What?!”
Pickup and SUV reporter Jill Ciminillo writes in an article for pickuptrucktalk.com how an F-150 Lightning she’s reviewing in Chicago lost a big chunk of range due to recent cold weather.
“In the cold weather, the battery just has to work harder to warm up and make the vehicle move,” Ciminillo states. “And in the F-150 Lightning, that means you’ll have less than 72% of the total range you should have.”
Ford is listening. In August, the auto giant, which has pledged billions of dollars to EV and battery production, announced a 10-mile range boost for Lightning’s standard battery from 230 to 240 miles.
In late November, Ford also published cold weather management tips for Lightning. In short, they advise parking the truck overnight inside a garage out of freezing weather; keeping the truck plugged in overnight during freezing weather to help keep the battery warm; and instead of using the HVAC system to warm up the truck, they advise using the steering wheel and heated seats to save on range.
Regarding cold weather impact on range, Ford writes: “Temperatures below 40° F cause the electrolyte fluid to become sluggish, limiting how much power is available to discharge and how quickly the vehicle’s battery can charge. As F-150 Lightning customers across the United States and Canada begin their first winter with their new electric pickup, Ford wants to help make them aware that in low temperatures they could see a significant reduction in range, which is normal.”