The Electric Ford F-150 Lightning Pickup is Remaking City Fleets

With the launch of the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, the all-electric pickup is slowly making its way into the hands of customers.

Among those clamoring to get their orders are city governments that want to take the electrification of their fleets to the next level. Across the country, Pro models of the Lightning are arriving at municipal depots for a variety of use cases.

Alan Bates, a fleet business operations supervisor in Portland, Oregon, told Newsweek that using Lightnings is a confluence of the city's sustainability goals and having vehicles that can do the lion's share of the work required by a city. Portland just recently took delivery of their first one.

"Of all of the 2,600 vehicles that we manage for the city, work trucks are one of the biggest categories we have," he said.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Ford Motor Company

As Bates and his team looked for ways to electrify that fleet, looking at the spec sheet of the Lightning convinced them that the first mainstream electric truck was right for them. Specifically, the range on the extended-range battery is what they're most excited about utilizing. It's EPA-rated for 320 miles.

"Frankly, we won't necessarily use all of that range, but we'll use the power," he explained. "For worksites, we can power various types of equipment using this truck. We were intrigued to see what we can do as far as site power and towing capability."

On the other side of the continental U.S., the city of Charlotte, North Carolina has 14 trucks on order and is slated to take delivery of the first two soon. Chris Davis, a fleet manager at the city's transportation department, told Newsweek that the trucks will be incorporated into the "motor pool," a multi-purpose fleet of vehicles.

"We have supervisors and work inspectors working with contractors out on jobs," he said. "We have crews, like stormwater crews, that need to haul materials and supplies they need for their jobs...where we used to use generators and power inverters, now we can export the power directly from the truck to do the job."

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Ford has designed the F-150 Lightning from the ground up, despite the fact that it looks just like a traditional F-150. Ford Motor Company

For Sarah Hazel, Charlotte's chief sustainability and resilience officer, the trucks represent a chance for the city to get more people experience with electric vehicles, hoping to accelerate the government's environmental initiatives.

"We're really trying to institutionalize our goals and make sustainability embedded in every inch of the work that we do, across all departments from executive leadership to folks who are doing hard work in the field every day," she explained to Newsweek.

Bates sees other applications, especially in emergency services. He foresees some Lightnings going to the police department as support vehicles at crime scenes. While it may not be feasible for the city's fire truck fleet to be completely electric, more electric support vehicles are the current goal.

"We've got a lot of supervisor rigs that can go out and be on site," he said. "We want to transition all of those trucks to electric for hauling around small amounts of equipment and moving people around emission free."

There's also the savings aspect. The city of Portland estimates that an electric truck is 40 percent cheaper to operate than its gas-powered counterpart.

In Charlotte, the city estimates a 34 percent reduction in preventative maintenance costs for their electric vehicles as opposed to gas.

Bates is excited to see the ripple effect that could take place as the city's Lightning cohort is seen around town.

"I think this is going to lead to a huge amount of additional adoption, not only in our fleet but for citizens in Portland," he said. "They'll be able to see a Ford Lightning driving around and they'll be able to say 'Okay, I see where this is going. This is something I can envision.'"