Ford F-150 Lightning – What Can It Tow?


Hi, I’m Chris. About Me

The Ford F-150 Lightning may just very well be one of the most important electric vehicles to enter the market thus far. When it comes to transitioning America to electric vehicles and especially to electric vehicles which can tow the Ford F-150 is key, currently selling roughly 1 million internal combustion engine versions each year. The exact price and specification details on each version of the F-150 Lightning are yet to be confirmed. However, I think its safe to say its going to be a serious player in EV trucks.

Ford F-150 Lightning Towing
Through their marketing materials, Ford is making it very clear that the towing capabilities/functionality of the F-150 Lightning are a key feature of the vehicle: Image – Ford.com

Key Ford F-150 Lightning Specs

  • Official Towing Capacity – Between 7,700 to 10,000 lbs
  • Availability – 2022
  • Price – $39,974 up to $90,474
  • EPA Range Estimates – Standard at 230 Miles or Extended Battery Versions at 300 Miles
  • Estimate Towing Range (50%) – Standard 115 Miles, Entended Battery 150 Miles
  • Maximum Charge Rate – 150 kW (DC Fast Charger)

Ford F-150 Lightning HP & Torque

  • Standard-Range Battery: AWD with 426 HP and 775 lb-ft of torque
  • Extended Range Battery: AWD with 563 HP and 775 lb-ft of torque

Ford F-150 Lightning Towing Capabilties

So, first off, I’m writing this first version of the summary article on the Ford F-150 Lightning a day after the initial reveal, and there are quite a few specific details about pricing we won’t get until late 2021. For instance, other than the starting price of just under $40K for the standard ‘commercially focused’ F-150 Lightinging with 230 miles of range (115 miles likely while towing) and a 7,700 lb towing capacity, we don’t know where all the other versions come in on price.

Ford’s first initial promotion for the F-150 Lightning

For instance, we don’t know what is the lowest price point of the extended battery versions with 300 Miles of estimated EPA range (150 miles likely when towing). Ford has started the price of the F-150 Lightning ranges from $39,974 up to $90,474, well that’s a pretty significant range I think you’ll agree. Though I have managed to find the F-150 Lightning Tech Specs which provides some important information which we’ll discuss below.

Standard Range vs Extended Range Battery Options

Currently following the data from the linked tech spec sheet above there will be three versions of the F-150 Lightning, the base level trim XLT, the mid-range Lariat trim and the top-spec Platinum Trim. On the XLT and Lariat the Standard Range Battery (230 miles) is well, standard, though you can opt for the extended range battery on both of these trim levels. On the Platinum trim the extended range battery is standard, its not possible to order Platinum trim with the smaller standard range battery.

How big are these battery packs? Well, Ford hasn’t officially stated their capacity, and they may not, as Tesla doesn’t state the battery capacity of their vehicles. However, as we’ll discuss below, Ford is heavily marketing the F-150 Lightning as not just a truck but as a portable power station. Hence, people are going to want to know how much energy is ultimately available. Looking at the tech spec sheet and reviewing the charging times we can make an educated guess that the standard battery is around 110 kWh and the extended range battery is around 150 kWh factoring in charging losses.

7,700 lbs or 10,000 lbs Towing Capacity

The tech spec sheet also tells us some important information with regards to the towing capacity of the F-150 Lightning at the various trim levels/battery sizes. So trucks with the standard battery will get a 7,700 lb towing capacity whereas trucks fitted with the larger extended range battery get the higher 10,000 lb maximum towing capacity.

It is worth noting that the maximum payload in the rear bed does go down with the extended range battery. From 2,000 lb maximum payload on the standard range battery versions its down to 1,800 lbs on extended range battery versions.

Towing Assistance Features & Predicted Towing Range

Just as with the standard F-150 fitted with an internal combustion engine, Ford is offering a lot of towing assistance features and packages. On the XLT and Lariat trim levels, all of these features are optional. On the top-spec Platinum models, all of the towing assistance features below are standard.

  • Pro Trailer Backup Assist
  • Pro Trailer Hitch Assist
  • Trailer Reverse Guidance
  • Trailer Brake Controller
  • Smart Hitch
  • Onboard Scales
  • Trailer Camera
  • Smart Trailer Tow Connection

A lot of very cool features that make reversing/hooking up to a trailer much easier for many people. Being able to reverse a trailer and letting the truck do most of the work is pretty cool. Then you have the onboard scales which will also measure the tongue weight of the trailer and advise on better weight distribution for safer towing.

The towing mode in the F-150 Lightning is also supposedly able to predict the towing range factoring in the weight/size of the trailer. I’m going to be very interested to see how this turns out in the real world. As I’ve previously discussed in my article on trailer aerodynamics the wind resistance qualities of a trailer may impact range to a more significant degree than its weight. So like I say, it will be very interesting to see how accurately the F-150 can predict towing range for different trailers, it will supposedly also factor in weather, terrain and traffic information.

A Genuine Power Plant On Wheels

Ok, I’ve been waiting for this type of electric vehicle for many years, one that can actually live up to its true potential as a power plant. Onboard the F-150 Lightning there can be up to eleven, that’s right, eleven 120V/240V outlets providing up to 9.6kW of total power. Now, that’s only standard on the higher-spec Lariat and Platinum models, but it is also optional on the base level XLT. As standard on the XLT it gets a total of nine sockets providing a total power output of 2.4kW, but no 240V outlet.

If the number of outlets on the truck itself with either 2.4kW or 9.6Kw of total power output wasn’t cool enough, the F-150 Lightning has another party piece, V2H also known as Vehicle to Home. The standard range battery can output a maximum of 10.5 kW of power whereas the larger extended range battery can output 17.6 kW of power! That is dependant on having the correctly rated Ford home charger installed as well though, and pricing on these chargers has yet to be announced.

I think the marketing team and specs team need to have a meeting about the Intelligent Backup Power capabilities

What is interesting to note is the marketing video above seems to imply that the maximum output to the home is 9.6kW, but that’s not what the spec sheet shows. The spec sheet references the 9.6kW output in reference to the maximum power output from the onboard sockets. The spec sheet clearly shows (screenshot below) that the maximum power out of the vehicle is higher, how much higher depends on whether its a standard or extended range battery.

Ford F-150 Lightning Energy Output
The energy output figures stated by Ford for the Standard and Extended Range battery options: Image – Ford Spec Sheet

Good Level 2 Charging But Questionable Level 3 Charging

As I’ve discussed previously in my electric car/truck towing guides, there is a big difference between destination charging (Level 2) and rapid charging (Level 3) while on the road. And in this regard, I’m impressed with the level 2 destination charging capabilities of the F-150 Lightning, but less so with its level 3 rapid charging capabilties. Which when it comes to towing due to the typical 50% range reduction, rapid charging capabilities matter, big time.

Ok, so on the destination charging front as you can see from the Ford spec sheet linked above they offer three different home chargers, a 32A, 48A and an industry-leading 80A home charger. Now, your home is not your only destination, when towing you will be visiting a worksite/campsite etc. However, the point remains that its possible to spec the F-150 to be compatible with an 80A AC destination charger. No location currently has such a high powered AC destination charger, but when/if they do, an F-150 Lightning can take full advantage of them.

Ford F-150 Lighting Charging Times
The charging times for the F-150 Lighting on Level 2 destination chargers and Level 3 rapid chargers: : Image – Ford Spec Sheet

As you can see in the screenshot above from the spec sheet, the Extended-Range Battery with an 80A Ford Charge Station Pro can go from 15% to 100% charge in 8 hours. Again, that’s industry-leading by a long way, no other electric vehicle manufacturer is offering a domestic charger providing that amount of power. Whether your property or other destination can support such a high-powered destination charger is another question. But again, the vehicle itself is technically capable of accepting that amount of AC power, so it gets a big thumbs up from me.

Level 3 150kW Rapid Charging (An Achilles Heel?)

If you check out my article on which electric cars/truck charge the fastest you will see some of the direct competition for the F-150 Lightning. You have the Rivian R1T which will be able to charge at up to 300kW and the Tesla Cybertruck which will have a peak charge rate of at least 250kW. Many in the industry are expecting Tesla to launch their next V3 charging infrastructure along with the Cybertruck which will be in excess of the current V2 Supercharges which are already at 250kW. Then you have the Hummer EV which some outlets are claiming will be able to charge at 350kW, but that’s still not officially been confirmed.

I’m concerned the maximum 150kW Level 3 charging rate for the Ford F-150 is going become a problem when it comes to towing

Anyway, you can see where I’m going with this, a 150kW maximum rapid charging rate for a truck that is going to consume a lot of energy towing, is not, by any means, industry-leading, its not really even competitive in the EV truck space. Even small cars like the Hyundai IONIQ 5 would mop the floor with F-150 Lightning in a Level 3 rapid charging race. Therefore, I’m concerned the level 3 150kW maximum charging rate of the F-150 Lightning could be its Achilles heel when it comes to being an electric truck when towing is involved.

150kW charging aside, there is a lot to like about the F-150 Lighting including the hilariously named but extremely practical Mega Power Frunk

My Thoughts On The F-150 Lightning….

Ok, so, when Ford launched the Mach-E I was very disappointed, its an SUV with no towing capabilities (in the US anyway). Ford could not have launched an electric F-150 without towing being a feature, there would have been genuine uproar. In terms of the towing capacity its self, either 7,700 lbs or 10,000 lbs is reasonable and competitive with the likes of the Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T at their respective price points. Furthermore, there is a lot to like about F-150 Lightning such as its ability to output significant amounts of power and the ‘Mega Power Frunk’ is the best frunk of any EV to date.

When it comes to towing, as stated above, I do have concerns about the 150kW rapid charging limitations. When towing you will typically use double the amount of energy than you would under normal driving conditions, so getting power back into the truck as quickly as possible is very important. Also, on the pricing front, we’ll just have to see how competitive the F-150 Lightning really is when final pricing gets released in late 2021. $40K to $90K is a very wide price bracket, and a $90K F-150 Lightning with only a 300-mile range is not great value for money when compared to the competition.

Chris

Hi, I’m Chris. I own and write all the content on ElectricTowCars.com. The content above is purely my own personal thoughts/opinions/research and should not be treated as professional advice. I hope you find the content above useful to help you find your future ideal electric tow car or truck.

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