Here's how Ford got F-150 Lightning EV pricing so close to the gasoline truck
CHICAGO - The most shocking thing about the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning when it was unveiled was the price. A basic Pro starts at just $ 39,974. The XLT starts at $ 52,974 and a fully loaded Platinum starts at $ 90,474. What's so surprising about these prices is how close Ford is flirting with the price equivalent of the F-150 gasoline engine - and that before consumers take advantage of federal and state tax incentives. History has shown us time and time again that electric cars tend to be more expensive than their gasoline-powered counterparts, but that is much less the case with the Lightning.
Build out an F-150 XLT of similar spec to the Lightning - all-wheel drive, supercrew, EcoBoost V6, large touchscreen - and you've got a pickup in the low $ 50,000 range. That's a spitting distance to the Lightning. Something similar happens if you do this same comparison to other trims as well. We don't call the Lightning or the regular F-150 cheap by any means, but the relatively small price difference between the two is remarkable.
The Chicago Auto Show was our first chance to see them up close and personal. While browsing the booth, we met with Darren Palmer, general manager of Ford's Battery Electric Vehicles division, to find out how Ford is handling its pricing. The answer is largely simple - scale - but there are a couple of other decisions Ford made to get the Lightning where it needed to be that we'll explain later as well.
"But then we work on how to get it at the right price because I wanted it at a price that was within or near the gas price," says Palmer. “Because then the barrier is gone. The psychological barrier in the head. Once they turn around they made it, they never want to go back. But making her turn around because her current truck is working pretty well is hard.
“So I knew I had to break that barrier,” continues Palmer. “So the top half of this truck is 4 million units. We buy 4 million from this seat. We get the best price in the business. The front trunk, apart from the unique components, the entire rest of the truck, we get 4 million units. "
2022 F-150 Blitz
The secret of a low price isn't really a secret. It stares you straight in the face with the huge F-150 body and interior that has hardly changed from the petrol F-150, which is now the best-selling vehicle in the country. A huge number of parts that are used in every other F-150 are also used in the Lightning, which gives Ford scale for an electric pickup truck that they don't even sell at scale yet. It just makes sense.
“The lower frame is completely new with all new suspension, but it's from the same supplier that makes our other frames,” says Palmer. "And they have the option, so we're working with them to produce the brand new frame, but at a reasonable price because they make a million frames for us."
The list of common parts goes on, but what about the expensive electrical components and battery?
"And then you share the motors and controllers, speed controllers, chargers and the battery with many other vehicles from our portfolio," continues Palmer. “The upcoming SUV generation, the larger trucks and the SK innovation batteries. So we're getting a lot of scale and sharing the components and technologies in it, which means we're getting great value for the electrical system. "
Yes, Palmer is basically saying there will be more electric trucks and SUVs in Ford's lineup that use the F-150 Lightning's battery and electric motors. It's exciting to hear when you consider how all these components are getting closer to series production. More big Ford and Lincoln EVs are definitely on the way. He also assured us that Ford will actually make a profit with the Lightning. Otherwise the bosses wouldn't approve such an endeavor, Palmer said.
There's one last thing Palmer mentioned that helps with the price and image of the truck in the beginning. We asked him why the Lightning is only available in a single configuration and not in the infinite number of options that the petrol F-150 offers.
"Number one, this is by far the most popular configuration - that's a 5.5-foot box, a full-size truck, and a supercrew - that made it easy," says Palmer. “Second, the cost savings of taking out some of these things is currently not worth it for the customer at that price. We're cheaper than gas. We already give what most people want. We don't need it yet. Someday in the future we can try. We'll see how it goes, but we haven't needed it yet. These will be convincing as they are. We will see later where the demand remains. "
Obviously, by offering the Lightning in relatively few configurations, Ford is helping to keep the price in check. It also allows Ford to advertise the Lightning as the mother of all F-150s. Since there's no base rear-wheel drive model, Ford can say that the Lightning (whichever you choose) beats the gasoline truck in many key performance metrics like power, acceleration, and other performance categories.
In the end, we owe the price of the electric model to the scale of the petrol F-150.
"All together," concluded Palmer, "means that we can offer a product at a lower price than anyone else."
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