Can the electric pickup travel as well as gas?


Besides F-150 Lightning towing, I also wanted to see how good the electric pickup would be for road-tripping. So I planned a trip from New York City to Detroit. And by planned, I mean I put the trip in Google Maps and made sure there were Electrify America (EA) stops along the way. Could it be this easy?

In short? Yes, mostly. But let’s check the details because that’s where the devil lies.

So traveling from New York to Detroit is mostly on Interstate 80 across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Fortunately, I hail from outside of Cleveland and there was a Yankees/Guardians playoff game and a visit to my family to break up the trip a bit. But if I was going direct, this is what it would look like:

A Better Route Planner (ABRP) shows the following route for the 625-mile trip:

The stops are anywhere from 100-150 miles apart and each lasts under 30 minutes for charging. Normally this would be the beginning and end of my route planning but I know a lot of folks are a bit wary of long-distance EV travel and might want to think about backups.

Also Ford vehicles have Plug and Charge on Electrify America so you don’t have to mess with apps or a credit card. You just plug right in and charging starts about 20 seconds later, give or take.

In the unlikely event one of the chargers was down, Plugshare shows a ton of options during the first third of the trip and the last third but only a few fast chargers in the eastern two-thirds of Pennsylvania.

Plugshare

I should have paid more attention to this map, not because any of the chargers weren’t in working order but because it presented me with an option (Clarion Walmart 150kW EA station at the radius line) that would have allowed me to miss a stop and get to my destination quicker. ABRP was good, not great at planning this route.

Ford has a built in charger map which was good at finding nearby charging stations but not as good at plotting out chargers along a route.

Ford F-150 Lightning aerodynamics

Because I was going on a road trip, I thought I’d be able to go a little faster if I made the vehicle a little more aerodynamic. A pickup without a tonneau cover is about as bad as it gets with vehicle aerodynamics, and I thought I could save valuable time (shorter charger stops, driving much faster) if I added one. Ford obliged me, and Pleasantville Ford had a vinyl one installed over a lunch break. They also had the exact vehicle I was driving center stage in the showroom and apparently were selling quite a few of them. (See photo above.)

The F-150 Lightning is also a huge vehicle. Here it is compared to my Model 3 and my garage. For the record, I’d never buy one of these for road trips or for commuting or anything other than as a work truck. But these are the best-selling vehicles in the US, and I don’t think that many people use them only for work.

Ford F-150 Lightning road trip

I left home fully charged with about 284 miles showing on the F-150 Lightning and about 150 miles to the first charging spot in Bloomsburg PA. I drove at about 65-75mph the whole way and was getting pretty similar if slightly worse range than had been predicted. I got a chance to use Blue Cruise, and it worked really…



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