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Ford Electric Truck Earns 'RangeLiar' Nickname After Road Trip Disaster: 'Asking for My Money Back'

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If you’re buying an electric vehicle that’s approaching the $100,000 mark, you’d expect it to at least tell you the truth about how far it could travel.

Unfortunately, for the popular — if apparently somewhat glitchy — Ford F-150 Lightning, that was a bit tricky for the vehicle.

The problem was so bad that the staff of automotive outlet MotorTrend nicknamed its long-term test vehicle the “RangeLiar.”

It’s not that MotorTrend doesn’t like the F-150 Lightning, which has been arguably the most heavily hyped of a gaggle of high-end electric trucks that have come to market in the last few years. The outlet gave the F-150 Lightning Lariat, the high-end version of the vehicle, its award for Truck of the Year in 2022.

Of course, the magazine has made some mistakes with the award before. For instance, the ugly (and not terribly reliable) Chrysler PT Cruiser won the 2001 Car of the Year. So did the Chevrolet Vega in 1971; it was a Ford Pinto rival that somehow racked up a worse quality record, so bad the cars would often begin rusting before they left the dealer lot and the engine would, if the car could be driven long enough to not collapse in a pile of ferrous oxide, begin to melt due to a cylinder distortion problem. (Source: Um, MotorTrend. At least they owned it.)

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While there were no melting parts on the F-150 Lightning and it wasn’t a rust-bucket, in a Tuesday report, MotorTrend reporter Frank Markus said the staff was “already off to a starkly different experience with our new Michigan-based Lightning,” and not in a good way.

Markus said that the pickup’s first task — which should have been an easy one — ended problematically.

“This F-150 Lightning awaited us at the airport on a late March evening following a winter vacation in the tropics, but it warmed us quickly. The next morning, battery topped off at home with the cabin preconditioned, the range meter predicted 315 miles — way more than enough for a 130-mile drive north to retrieve our pooch from Grandma’s house,” he wrote.

“We drove with traffic at the prevailing Michigan speed (10 mph over the 70-mph limit) and arrived with less than 120 miles of range remaining — nowhere near enough to get home. Grandma’s house lacks a charger, and her town of Midland boasts just four — all of them 6.5-kW Level 2 chargers.”

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Level 2 chargers are the kind often installed in the homes of EV owners, not the type you would normally see at a Tesla Supercharger station, which are classified as Level 3 and charge much faster.

“We talked ourselves into a perch dinner in nearby Bay City to avail ourselves of an Electrify America station boasting four 350-kW chargers, one of which got us from 31 to 67 percent charge (199 miles) in 24 minutes at a peak charging rate of 155 kW (though we’ve observed as high as 182 kW in our SoCal truck),” Markus continued.

“Surely that’s plenty? Nope. Driving 10 over the 75-mph limit on US-10 for the 15 miles back to grandma’s consumed 49 miles of indicated range. Our attempt to creep home at 70 mph, traffic streaking by on the left, failed, forcing a stop at a 125-kW ChargePoint station curiously located inside the short-term parking lot at the Flint airport.”

Markus said the charger “haltingly dispensed 20 miles of range in 10 minutes before faulting out, forcing us to complete the 58-mile run at 65 mph, arriving on electronic ‘fumes.'”

“Had I just purchased this $85,779 truck, I’d be asking for my money back,” he wrote.

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Add that to the fact that a gas-powered F-150 would have easily completed the trip on just one tank of gas, according to federal government fuel economy average numbers, and it’s yet another sign that EVs might not be ready for prime time in America.

Furthermore, this wasn’t just an outlier. Markus said that each trip logged in the F-150 Lightning “consumed more miles of estimated range than miles traveled.”

“Remember when you screwed up as a kid, deflected blame, and your parents told you, ‘It’s not what you did, it’s lying about it that disappointed us’? I’m that parent here, and in this age of machine learning and artificial intelligence, I’m disappointed that Ford is either unable or unwilling to give me the bad news about how far this truck will actually travel on a charge — especially when destinations are entered into the native navigation system,” Markus wrote.

“And yes, it was late winter, and we were running some heat. But we’re also operating 20 miles from Ford’s engineering headquarters, so this climate should be no surprise to the truck’s computers.”

Part of the problem is that, unlike competitors designed to be EV-only from the start, the Ford F-150 Lightning is just what it sounds like: the Ford F-150’s body paired with an electric drivetrain.

Thus, compared with competitors such as the Rivian R1T — which was designed from the ground up to be electric-only — the F-150 is, to use Markus’ description, like “shoving a big barn door through the air.”

The drag coefficient is 0.44 for the F-150 Lighting, compared with 0.30 to the R1T.

(An EV sedan, the Lucid Air, had a drag coefficient of 0.21, for comparison.)

“Drag force varies with the square of the speed and the added horsepower required to overcome that drag varies with the cube of speed, so while the difference in drag between 70 and 80 mph is 31 percent for any vehicle, the change in actual drag force and horsepower as speeds rise is dramatically higher for the Lightning than in other long-term EVs our Michigan staff has experienced,” Markus wrote.

Now, naturally, the folks in the auto industry aren’t just making internal-combustion vehicles like “a big barn door” because their disregard for the environment is such that they spend their evenings lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills and then tossing them into industrial vats of oil just to cause mass pollution.

Bigger vehicles are safer and roomier, both passenger- and cargo-wise. They’re also a great deal lighter, considering the batteries add a hefty weight penalty to every vehicle.

Nor is this a phenomenon that was just noted by MotorTrend.

A reviewer for the Detroit News reported last year that he only got about 170 miles of range from the vehicle, far from the advertised 280 from Ford.

Earlier this year, a YouTube influencer found that his Rivian R1T could only get about 100 miles of range while towing another vehicle in cold weather.

And another YouTuber, Tyler Hoover, sold his F-150 Lightning after finding its “winter battery performance was a disaster,” noting in a video that mileage could sometimes dip by almost 50 percent in cold weather.

Hoover was still optimistic, telling viewers that “at some point, Ford is probably going to fix this and extend the range of these trucks dramatically, which will probably make these plummet in value, kind of like the early Teslas or a lot of other early cars where they fix the bugs.”

Of course, should you want one with the bugs already sorted out, you could just go with the F-150 that has the internal combustion engine.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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