For some, this winter will be the first with an all-electric pickup truck. This prompted Ford to release tips to help maximize the range of F-150 Lightning in cold weather.
As we all know, the range is a crucial factor for all-electric vehicles and weather might significantly impact it.
Ford notes that its pickup has been tested in extremely cold conditions, including months of real-world winter driving in Alaska and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as in atmospheric test chambers (at temperatures between -40°F/-40°C and 140°F/60°C).
As a result, it's known that in cold temperatures, batteries might offer limited energy and limited power (both, discharge and charging power output).
"...all-electric vehicles experience energy decreases in cold temperatures due to battery cell chemistry. Temperatures below 40°F (4°C) cause the electrolyte fluid to become sluggish, limiting how much power is available to discharge and how quickly the vehicle’s battery can charge."
An active thermal management system (liquid cooling or heating) of the battery pack partially solves the issue, but it's always worth knowing what to do to avoid a significant reduction in range.
Ford starts with things that Ford F-150 Lightning users (and other EV drivers) can do before the next trip.
Those things are parking in a garage (that's obvious), plugging in to charge as much as possible, having some energy for the active battery thermal management system, and preconditioning (starting with a heated cabin without using electricity from the battery).
1. Park your F-150 Lightning in a garage whenever possible.
2. Keep your F-150 Lightning plugged in when parked.
3. If planning a longer commute, precondition your vehicle using departure times to warm the battery while plugged in by using the FordPass app or your truck's center screen.
The next thing is related to heating when driving and charging. It's important to save energy, as electric heating happens to be a pretty noticeable load on the battery, especially over a prolonged time.
Ford's advice is to use heated seats and steering wheel, as the most direct way of heating and also consider reducing/turning off heating at a fast charging station.
4. If equipped, use the heated seats and steering wheel as primary heat to reduce energy consumed by HVAC.
5. When charging, turn off the heater if possible, or lower the temperature enough to remain comfortable. (Especially when using DCFC)
The other three tips are more general - like removing snow to reduce weight and drag, driving at a lower speed and keeping the tire pressure at a recommended level.
6. If your F-150 Lightning is covered with snow, brush all the snow off before driving to eliminate extra weight and drag.
7. Keep driving speeds moderate in cold temperatures as high speeds use more energy.
8. Ensure your tires are at the proper pressure.
Winter is a difficult time for all machines. In the case of all-electric vehicles there are three general factors that reduce the range - first is potentially lower available energy from the battery, the second is higher energy losses, and the third is the additional energy expense on heating. The last one actually is something new compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, because the heat inside ICE vehicles is, in most cases, a side effect of engine losses.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Well, time will tell how well the first batch of Ford F-150 Lightning will cope with winter.
Let's note that by the end of October, Ford delivered more than 11,000 F-150 Lightning, while Rivian R1T was at about 13,000 cumulatively (as of the end of September). With close to 800 GMC Hummer EV Pickup (also by the end of Q3) we are talking about 25,000 first battery electric pickups on the road.
This winter we might see probably up to 40,000 electric pickups so it will be the first large-scale winter test.