Ride the Lightning: How well does the Ford F-150 Lightning tow? | Live thread

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Oct 31, 2022 | Ford, F-150, Electric Cars, ev, Lightning, F-150 Lightning, Electric Trucks

Photography by J.G. Pasterjak

Since Ford dropped off an F-150 Lightning last Thursday, we’ve been putting it through its paces doing normal truck stuff. It picked up a 75-inch TV, hauled some landscaping accessories, and delivered people to places they were going.

But can it tow?

Well, we’re about to find out. As my wife forgot her laptop this morning and has apparently been amusing a class full of third graders by doing that thing where you tuck your thumb under your index finger and make it look like you’re sliding your finger off, I need to make a short highway trip to deliver her missing computer so she can actually teach. And what better vehicle for the function that a 6000-pound electric pickup truck hooked to an 8000-pound enclosed trailer.

The trip to her elementary school is exactly 20 miles, 15 of which are freeway.

I’ll take her usual rout to school, then take a bit more mixed route back which will combine some surface highway and some residential streets. That should give me about a 45-mile loop, which I’ll then extend either by reversing and repeating, or taking a similar mixed route from there, based on how range calculations look at the time.

Here's what we know so far: The truck charged fully on our home level 2 charger, and was showing a range of 270 miles when we started it up to hook the trailer.

The act of hooking the trailer cost us a mile of range, between idling and raising and lowering the electric trailer tongue jack to hook up the load leveling hitch.

We then put the truck in tow mode, input the specs on our trailer, and range dropped to 162 miles, with an asterisk on the center console that we wouldn’t really know the true range until we got some miles under us.

So stay tuned to this thread and we’ll update whenever it’s safe and we have new info. We’ll stick to speed limits, use the cruise control where safe and applicable, and keep the a/c set to 69 degrees.

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yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/31/22 12:56 p.m.

Do you have any hills or inclines?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 1:02 p.m.

In reply to yupididit :

Have you been to Florida? ;)

I would expect the Lightning to suffer less towing in an urban environment or when there are hills because it can recapture energy that an ICE cannot. Florida interstate at a constant speed is probably the worst case.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/31/22 1:05 p.m.
yupididit said:

Do you have any hills or inclines?

In Florida all of the uphills and downhills are emotional. 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/31/22 1:06 p.m.

Early analysis: it tows BRILLIANTLY. Just not for very long. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/31/22 1:07 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:

Early analysis: it tows BRILLIANTLY. Just not for very long. 

Do I need to pick you up?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/31/22 1:12 p.m.

Had to stop because this dumb cat wouldn't get out of my way.

triumph7
triumph7 HalfDork
10/31/22 1:13 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
JG Pasterjak said:

Early analysis: it tows BRILLIANTLY. Just not for very long. 

Do I need to pick you up?

No, he'll be back in 3 or 4 hours after he charges it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/31/22 1:18 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:

Had to stop because this dumb cat wouldn't get out of my way.

Flagler cat. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 1:30 p.m.
JG Pasterjak said:

Early analysis: it tows BRILLIANTLY. Just not for very long. 

about six and a half minutes, with a bitchin' guitar solo?

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 1:33 p.m.

I was wondering how much not blasting Metallica at appropriate volume would add to the range, given the title. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
10/31/22 1:38 p.m.

What's 0-60 with the trailer hooked up?

stafford1500
stafford1500 GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/31/22 1:41 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
JG Pasterjak said:

Had to stop because this dumb cat wouldn't get out of my way.

Flagler cat. 

At least it wasnt a Flagler dog

Why You DON'T Want an Alligator for a Pet: Advice from an Alligator Trainer  — Steemit

stafford1500
stafford1500 GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/31/22 1:49 p.m.

Back on subject, JG how do you get the ducks to run on the tread mill to power your level 2 charger?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/31/22 1:50 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

What's 0-60 with the trailer hooked up?

Insane. This thing has power forever (for a limited time)

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/31/22 2:18 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

When I go to Florida I rarely get to get out lol. I did drive throught there in 2021 but it was mostly night.

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/31/22 2:26 p.m.

This thing would be perfect for me most of the time. I tow a 24' enclosed about 10 mi at a shot to do T&T about 5-10x a year. The other three a year are big tows but may be manageable with some planning on charging on the way. Hard to beat a paid off gas truck though cool

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/31/22 2:26 p.m.
stafford1500 said:

Back on subject, JG how do you get the ducks to run on the tread mill to power your level 2 charger?

No need for that. Just need a windmill that withstands hurricane winds. Charge a giant house battery and then the truck from there.

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 2:35 p.m.

Which version of the truck do you have? Regular range or long range? Pro, XLT, Lariat, or Platnium?

 

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
10/31/22 2:48 p.m.
Toyman! said:

Which version of the truck do you have? Regular range or long range? Pro, XLT, Lariat, or Platnium?

 

 

Get up, go outside, and do something. - Me, mostly talking to myself.

Extended range Lariat

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/31/22 4:03 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I would expect the Lightning to suffer less towing in an urban environment or when there are hills because it can recapture energy that an ICE cannot. 

One thing that I've found interesting is that EV trucks seem to lose a greater percentage of their range when towing than ICE trucks do.  My F-250 goes from 14-15 mpg unloaded to 10-11 when towing my big, heavy, aerodynamic brick of a trailer, call that around a 40% hit.  Reports I've seen of Lightnings and Rivians sound more like a 60% hit.

I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the EVs can't do regen on the trailer brakes?

 

slefain
slefain UltimaDork
10/31/22 4:10 p.m.
stafford1500 said:

Back on subject, JG how do you get the ducks to run on the tread mill to power your level 2 charger?

My napkin math shows it would take 14,075 duckpower to charge it, so you'd need a lot of tread mills.

Nockenwelle
Nockenwelle New Reader
10/31/22 4:19 p.m.

I thought this thread was about this:

Which probably sucks at towing since they won't haul more than one medium-build buddy and a spare set of tires in the back, but might actually do a burnout with a trailer.

dps214
dps214 Dork
10/31/22 4:26 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Keith Tanner said:

I would expect the Lightning to suffer less towing in an urban environment or when there are hills because it can recapture energy that an ICE cannot. 

One thing that I've found interesting is that EV trucks seem to lose a greater percentage of their range when towing than ICE trucks do.  My F-250 goes from 14-15 mpg unloaded to 10-11 when towing my big, heavy, aerodynamic brick of a trailer, call that around a 40% hit.  Reports I've seen of Lightnings and Rivians sound more like a 60% hit.

I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the EVs can't do regen on the trailer brakes?

The problem is you're comparing to a vehicle that gets crap mileage to begin with. The ICE f15s do 20+ unloaded and 8-10 with an enclosed trailer, which is in the same ballpark of range loss.

As for 0-60, our 3.5eb could out accelerate most normal traffic to about 40mph while towing a 7k lb enclosed trailer, so I'd guess the lightning would do even better.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 4:54 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Keith Tanner said:

I would expect the Lightning to suffer less towing in an urban environment or when there are hills because it can recapture energy that an ICE cannot. 

One thing that I've found interesting is that EV trucks seem to lose a greater percentage of their range when towing than ICE trucks do.  My F-250 goes from 14-15 mpg unloaded to 10-11 when towing my big, heavy, aerodynamic brick of a trailer, call that around a 40% hit.  Reports I've seen of Lightnings and Rivians sound more like a 60% hit.

I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the EVs can't do regen on the trailer brakes?

There's a limit to how fast vehicles can capture regen. It varies a bit depending on things like battery temp and state of charge, but I can certainly see how a towing pickup might have to rely on the wasteful friction brakes fairly often. My diesel has an engine brake that behaves like regen in terms of amount of decel available, and it's really only useful at highway speeds without the friction brakes. So yeah, that's a good theory.

You really need to do a proper apples-to-apples test to see how much range is lost. Like a gas F150 vs a Lightning with the same trailer, and separate the different driving modes (city, hilly, flat highway cruise). That would be interesting data to see.

Trailers with onboard batteries and their own regen capability would be interesting - camping trailers first.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/31/22 5:42 p.m.
Nockenwelle said:

I thought this thread was about this:

Which probably sucks at towing since they won't haul more than one medium-build buddy and a spare set of tires in the back, but might actually do a burnout with a trailer.

2nd gen Lightnings actually tow reasonably well.  Unlike most of the sport trucks they didn't get their tow rating totally neutered, so it's still either 5K or 7K pounds.  Friend of mine used to tow his Miata to track days with one, and one day when he broke the Miata he took the truck out for the last sessions of the day. :)

 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/31/22 6:03 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
one day when he broke the Miata he took the truck out for the last sessions of the day. :)

Once when I tracked my Stalker V6 Locost, a friend's car blew it's engine. I had a hitch on the Stalker for a tire trailer which I used to tow his car home. Stupid, I know, but how much fun is life if you never do anything stupid?

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 6:12 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Nockenwelle said:

I thought this thread was about this:

Which probably sucks at towing since they won't haul more than one medium-build buddy and a spare set of tires in the back, but might actually do a burnout with a trailer.

2nd gen Lightnings actually tow reasonably well.  Unlike most of the sport trucks they didn't get their tow rating totally neutered, so it's still either 5K or 7K pounds.  Friend of mine used to tow his Miata to track days with one, and one day when he broke the Miata he took the truck out for the last sessions of the day. :)

 

There were a couple landscaping companies around here who used them as tow rigs.

I thought that was odd until I was tasked to put a crazy 408ci engine in a Dodge 3/4-ton plumber's van.  He explained that his wife would not let him have a motorcycle or a fast car so he was modding his work van.

Ever accidentally break the tires loose in a Dajiban from a 50mph roll without downshifting?

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/31/22 8:32 p.m.

 

 Gotta go with the 1st Lightening strike...

 

Old School Sport Truck: 1993 Ford SVT Lightning

Then again I'm more of a 454SS fan.

racerfink
racerfink UberDork
10/31/22 8:48 p.m.
dps214 said:
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
Keith Tanner said:

I would expect the Lightning to suffer less towing in an urban environment or when there are hills because it can recapture energy that an ICE cannot. 

One thing that I've found interesting is that EV trucks seem to lose a greater percentage of their range when towing than ICE trucks do.  My F-250 goes from 14-15 mpg unloaded to 10-11 when towing my big, heavy, aerodynamic brick of a trailer, call that around a 40% hit.  Reports I've seen of Lightnings and Rivians sound more like a 60% hit.

I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the EVs can't do regen on the trailer brakes?

The problem is you're comparing to a vehicle that gets crap mileage to begin with. [b]The ICE f15s do 20+ unloaded and 8-10 with an enclosed trailer, which is in the same ballpark of range loss.[/b]

As for 0-60, our 3.5eb could out accelerate most normal traffic to about 40mph while towing a 7k lb enclosed trailer, so I'd guess the lightning would do even better.

You may want to check your numbers.  My '96 C1500 Silverado Ext Cab would get 20 on the highway, and 14 pulling my Spec Miata, which would mean a little less than 33% drop.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/31/22 8:55 p.m.

In reply to racerfink :

Different kettle of fish.  Those SBCs would get not so very good low load economy in order to be more efficient when loaded.  Not a bad compromise for a truck engine.

I am 99% sure that a 96 would have the port fuel injection setup, but the TBI systems were even worse.  IIRC the TBI couldn't even idle or run at low loads at stoich, had to be a fair bit richer.  I have no idea how Chevy limped those over the emissions standards.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
11/1/22 6:42 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Don't leave me hanging... Did the laptop arrive? Did our super hero save the day? Was the integrity of 3rd grade education maintained? 

secretariata (Forum Supporter)
secretariata (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/1/22 7:40 a.m.
John Welsh said:

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

Don't leave me hanging... Did the laptop arrive? Did our super hero save the day? Was the integrity of 3rd grade education maintained? 

What John said!

And is really "idling" in an EV? 

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/1/22 8:08 a.m.

Maybe 8k# was more than the truck could stand and he never made it home. Kids went on a rampage and finger-painted the halls! Dogs sleeping with cats, frogs falling from the sky!! Oh, the huge manatee!!

I wonder if the heat generated by moving a heavy load eats up power trying to keep batteries and motors cool. 

 

 

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
11/1/22 9:42 a.m.

I turned in my final wrapup after a successful (?) test drive. It should be on the site today. Long story short, it's an amazing, amazing tow vehicle, it just can't do it for very long.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/1/22 10:30 a.m.

Did you perform the same test without the trailer as a control, to see if the estimated range was identical to the range you experienced?

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
11/1/22 10:36 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

So exactly what every other Lightning test has found. wink

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