A red 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is shown driving in a sandy desert.

Lightning Before Thunder: 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

The tides are turning for the automotive industry, and trucking sure ain’t what it used to be. As a traditionalist, there are many things that I personally don’t feel need to be reinvented––if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know what I mean? Now, as a truck enthusiast who is also a traditionalist, you may assume that I don’t feel the need to reinvent the pickup truck, and if you had asked my opinion before showing me the reinvention, I might have said you are correct. However, this reinvention of trucking is, well…it’s just too good…and I like it…a lot. The reinvention of which I am speaking, of course, is the recent introduction of the electric pickup truck, led by none other than the Ford F-150 Lightning.

Many things set the F-150 Lightning apart from the other electric pickups, but perhaps the main thing is simply that Ford is way ahead of the game. While the electric trucks from Chevy, Ram, and even Tesla are still in development, not set to hit the market for another year or two, Ford is already in its second year of electric trucking with the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning. If you missed the boat on the 2022 F-150 Lightning, that might actually be good news for you because now you can not only get the leading electric truck, but you can get an updated version of the leading electric truck. For classic truck lovers, the idea of an electric truck can be hard to wrap your head around, even if you’re told there are serious advantages. So, let’s talk about that.

Thunder and Lightning

The F-150 is America’s Favorite Truck. It didn’t need to go electric to earn that title; the truck had already claimed its place at the head of the line. Thanks to its class-leading performance, powerful design, unique features, off-roading capability, and so much more, the F-150 has proven itself over the years to be a truck of thunderous proportions. But even thunder comes second to lightning, and the F-150 Lightning has finally arrived. The simple facts about electric vehicles are that they provide higher efficiency, more durability, and much greater capability. I think you’ll have a hard time finding a trucker without those three things at least somewhere near the top of their priority list.

I think one of the big concerns for classic truckers who may not be super familiar with EVs (which is totally fair) is that going electric may decrease performance in favor of environmental friendliness. This is a totally reasonable concern, especially for truckers looking for a truck to help them work better. The truth of the matter, though, is that going electric almost always increases performance capability, and this holds true in the F-150 Lightning. The Lightning offers more horsepower and torque than a gasoline or diesel F-150 ever could, and, oh baby, does it still have its towing capability. But first, it’s important to wrap your head around the idea of a battery-operated truck.

A woman is shown using the underseat storage in a 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning.

Batteries, Batteries, Batteries

The F-150 Lightning uses an innovative lithium-ion battery system that increases the truck’s capability. There are two battery options on the F-150 Lightning: standard range (which sees a ten-mile range increase this year for a total of 240 miles; not bad) and extended range (320 miles of range; best). That’s still about 100 miles short of what a gasoline F-150 can offer, but it’s definitely enough range to get around town with no problem.

One of the other big concerns that classic truckers may have with a battery-operated truck is the issue of charging. Public charging stations are only beginning to become mainstream and are still not as common as gas stations. This is a totally fair concern, but there are several solutions. First of all, the F-150 Lightning uses Intelligent Range, monitoring your trip to give you your estimated range along the way. This will help you pace out your charging stops appropriately and ensure you never run out of juice (at least not without warning!). Even better, when it comes time to charge, you can use Ford’s BlueOval Charge Network to find the closest charging station. There’s no need to drive around trying to find you–you’ll know exactly where to go.

However, the best part of the F-150 Lightning is that you don’t have to visit a public charging station to recharge. Instead, you can plug in at home and charge overnight; in the morning, you’re all good to go. “Ok, but how do I do that?” That’s a very fair question. The answer is that it could not be easier. One of the great aspects of Ford EVs is that every vehicle comes with a 30-amp mobile power cord, meaning you can charge your F-150 right from any regular old 120V or 240V NEMA 14-15 outlet without a special charging station or anything like that. Think about how much of a game-changer that is; you can charge right from home every night without needing to make any trips to the gas station.

​​The F-150 Lightning works to make sure that your experience is easier than with a gasoline or diesel truck, and it’s doing a darn good job. Now, I’ve alluded several times to the advantages of an electric truck. The truth is that there are also significant performance advantages to having a battery-operated truck. Let’s see how that applies to the F-150 Lightning.

A family is shown getting camping gear out of the frunk of a silver 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning.

The Power of Electricity

The raw specs speak for themselves. The F-150 Lightning offers 580 hp, 775 lb-ft of torque, and 0-60 mph acceleration in less than four seconds. It does all of this while providing up to 10,000 lbs of towing capacity and 2,000 lbs of payload. The truth of the matter is that you have the opportunity for a better ride in the F-150 Lightning than in a gasoline F-150. These specs still come paired with your favorite features like selectable driver modes, and there are even some practical benefits to having a battery-operated truck. Because the vehicle’s powertrain is no longer under the hood, the front now serves as storage space––a frunk, as it’s come to be known. The main way a pickup is expected to perform is by hauling cargo, and now you not only have a pickup bed but a spacious front trunk as well.

Moreover, the battery serves as a source of electricity for more than your truck’s powertrain. If you’re at the worksite and need to plug in tools or at home having a party and want to plug in speakers, lights, or anything else, you can do it all from your F-150 Lightning. The long and short of it is that the F-150 has always taken trucking to the next level on all fronts. If you’re a trucking enthusiast, there’s nothing not to like about it. However, the F-150 Lightning is even better. You’ll love the experience.

The Old and the New

Like I said at the beginning, I’m a traditionalist. I love old, rough, and tumble retro pickups just as much as any other truck enthusiast out there. I don’t like reinventing things just for the sake of reinventing things. What makes the F-150 Lightning appealing, though, even to a traditionalist, is that it is increasing the truck’s ability to do what truckers need. Everything about the Lightning is geared towards capability, efficiency, ease, and helpfulness, and as you can see, it pays off. This is not to say that all truckers need to change their mind and go electric; there’s still plenty of room for the old-school, retro trucks (if you have one, let me take it for a spin). But if your focus is more on the ability to meet your day-to-day tasks than on the aesthetic of a classic truck, the F-150 Lightning objectively provides some serious advantages. Just some food for thought.