Bloomberg recently spoke with the chief engineer for Ford's upcoming F-150 Lightning, a fully electric version of the most popular truck in America. Interestingly, Linda Zhang, now 44 years old, originates from China, though she emigrated to the US when she was just eight. Autoblog notes that the first time she ever rode in a car was moments after she arrived in the States.
Zhang holds a position as an electrical engineer at Ford, and she has had the honor to not only be chosen as the lead designer for the Blue Oval's first electric pickup truck, but also to meet President Joe Biden and share the Lightning with him.
Ford says over 150,000 people have already put down a deposit for the upcoming electric pickup truck, and that number continues to grow. Arguably more important, Autoblog notes that many of the reservation holders have never owned a pickup truck, much less a Ford vehicle. Due to the uptick in interest, Ford has already announced that it will ramp up the originally planned production capacity for the truck by double.
Bloomberg asked Zhang seven questions about the Lightning, as well as her story. We've summarized the content below, though we also suggest visiting the source articles to see the questions and responses in their entirety.
When asked why Zhang thinks "non-traditional" buyers are interested in the truck, she said that the Lightning offers functionality that's just not available with a gas-powered vehicle. For instance, when properly equipped, you can use the Lightning to power your home.
Zhang made it clear that Ford isn't focusing on fuel economy as the reason people should switch to an electric truck. It's hard to change people's minds when it comes to the environment, global warming, and their personal habits. Rather than push gas savings and helping the environment, Zhang says Ford wants people to fall in love with the Lightning's capability.
Bloomberg also asked Zhang about the truck's Mega Power Frunk. She said that while a "frunk" (front trunk) is nothing new, Ford wanted its iteration to be unique. The company ran clinics and spoke with customers about what they may want. People requested an area to store beverages, complete with a drain, as well as a place for their golf clubs.
The publication also asked Zhang about her unique story. She's just overjoyed that she was able to come to our shores, not to mention being the person chosen to give the president a personal tour of the upcoming Lightning. Zhang shared:
"It was surreal. I was really honored to be able to represent the company, to be able to show him the truck and get quick feedback from him. Looking back on moving here when I was 8 years old and riding in a car for the first time and growing up in the Midwest, it’s pretty cool."
In 1985, Zhang arrived in the US. Her dad picked her up at the airport in a borrowed car. It was the first time she rode in a car, and they traveled some three hours in the dark. She remarked that everything in America seemed so clean, and she felt as though she was in a fairy tale.
Needless to say, it was that moment that steered Zhang toward her path of becoming an automotive engineer. Who knew she'd lead the F-150 Lightning team all these years later?