The Anti-Lightning

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There is a reason why the Lightning – the battery-powered version of Ford’s F-150 pickup – isn’t selling very well.

It’s sitting – untethered – in my driveway as I type this.

It is another variant of the F-150. One that Ford can’t build copies of fast enough to keep up with demand for it.

It is one that Ford isn’t losing $60,000 per “sale” on, as is reportedly the case as regards the Lightning.

It is the F-150 Raptor R.

It is the anti-Lightning.

It is the kind of truck Ford ought to make more of – because it is what lots of people want very much to buy (using their own money) as opposed to what they’re being told they ought to buy by the federal government and what the government is forcing Ford (and every other car company) to make, irrespective of what people want.

Normally, it is kind of the point of the exercise – when you’re trying to sell something – to focus on making what makes rather than loses money.

But Ford only makes a relative handful of Raptors, which are profitable. Which is kind of like Starbucks only making a little coffee.

Meanwhile, Ford is is trying to make as many Lightnings as can be pushed off the assembly lines, no matter the fact that they are idling  – so to speak – on the lots of dealers who can’t find people willing to buy them. And while they’re “idling,” they are also drawing – as in current; if you leave a battery-powered device just sitting for several days, when you get around to driving it, you will find it is like leaving a vehicle with an engine actually idling for a few hours in that there will be less “gas” in the “tank.”

No such issues with the Raptor.

You never have to plug it in, so you don’t have to wait. Or waste. It is ready whenever you are, no rigmarole required.

And if you want one of these, you will probably have to get in line – and take a number. You will probably not get a discount, either. Ford needs to make money on these so as to make up for the money it is losing “selling” the Lightning. Which it recently began trying to sell for less, but not really.

Ford lowered the base price of its battery powered device to $49,995 – which is almost $10k less than the price Ford original promised it would ask for one of these before it raised the asking price by more than $10k, to try to recover some of its losses. But then people stopped buying. Ford did what is usually done when a product isn’t selling. It tried discounting. After raising the price, thrice (in just 12 months) it tried lowering it.

But the catch is that if you want to be able to drive this device even 240 miles (maybe, assuming it’s not too cold outside and assuming you’re not carrying anything heavy in the bed or pulling it behind you) you will need to spend at least $64,995. That is the price of the XLT trim ($54,995) which you must buy in order to be able to buy the optional “long range” (332 miles, maybe) battery for $10,000 extra.

The Raptor costs even more – $107,350. But it comes standard with 450 miles of highway range (360 in the city) notwithstanding it is powered by a 700 horsepower supercharged 5.2 liter V8 engine. It is a maximum performance truck and yet it is still a far more practical truck than the battery-powered device Ford is trying (and failing) to sell to people as a practical truck.

Because, of course, it isn’t.

Even with its optional “long range” battery, the Lightning still puts its prospective owner in the position of having to spend time thinking about, planning for and actually waiting around for the truck to be useful for work again. People who work do not have time for that because their time is money and one generally doesn’t make money waiting at “fast” chargers to be able to get back to working. Making matters worse, if you actually try to use the Lightning for work – as in hauling/pulling things – you will spend even more time waiting and not making money because work (towing/hauling) saps the range.

The Raptor R, on the other hand, isn’t meant to be a working man’s truck.

It is the highest-performance of the F-truck that Ford has ever made. It is designed to go very fast and go over just about anything. And yet, it can be used as a work truck – because it is a much more capable truck and because it isn’t tethered to a cord and does not take more than about five minutes to refill its tank (no matter how fast you drain it) you and be ready for more fun.

Or work.

It is everything, in sum, that the Lightning isn’t and that is why it sells while the Lightning costs.

Ford is well aware of the fact and – in saner times – would immediately stop making what doesn’t make money because not enough people are wanting to pay for it and would make more of what people clearly do want and are willing to pay top dollar for, using their own dollars.

But we live in crazy times. Ford has to pretend that losers are “winners” – no matter how much it costs ($4.5 billion, so far).

It is like the vehicular special olympics wherein everyone gets a trophy and feels good about trying.

. . .

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  1. Ford used to be the truck for the working class. Now it doesn’t seem to be interested in anything but the upper middle class, especially those with more money than brains.

  2. One more ev comment.

    “George, 28, said: “It was causing me so much anxiety I thought I’d be sick.

    “And now we’re here, we’ll have to wait about two hours before we can plug in, then another 45 minutes to give us enough power to complete the journey to London.

    “It’s an absolute joke.

    “Motorists were promised an electric car revolution and what have we got..? A single power point with a long queue of angry motorists.””

  3. This afternoon I heard from a friend who works in fleet for my former employer. After I left I was told they scrapped my 2011 F150 becuase it had 425,655 miles. But according to my friend it’s still being driven, a year after I left. Unbelievable!

    I think my next vehicle might be a 2011 F150, if I can find one that has a few fewer miles than my old work truck. It certainly won’t be a Lightning!

    • 425,655 miles seems impressive.
      However; I bought a ’68 GMC from a friend of mine in ~’87 which had 350,000 well documented (service records & all) miles and it was going strong until… hmm, dunno/recall what happened to it.

      …Just saying, 425,655 miles for a 2011 in 2023 doesn’t seem all that impressive. …YMMV?

      • Depends on where and how it was driven. You’re not wrong, and in this case, the truck spent most of it’s time on highways. But I’ve seen tech trucks that were only used in town and driven from the office to customer homes, started and parked a dozen times a day, never cleaned (inside or out), and a dashboard full of warning lights. They rarely made it much beyond 5 years until they spent more time at the mechanic than in use.

        Transmissions seemed to be the Achilles heel, but back east the rot and steel cancer would destroy the rear fenders and beds pretty quickly too. Now that all that stuff is plastic, maybe they last longer.

  4. The cost of registering that vehicle here in Colorado for the first year would be about $1,800. What an absurd cost of ownership, no matter how badass it might be.

    • Cuhhhhh-RI-key.

      In the rosy haze of youthful memory, Colorado was a laissez-faire cowboy state, the very embodiment of the Old West.

      All of my siblings moved there when they could, only to find that the roseate Colorado we remembered so fondly is gone.

      Turning blue is direly expensive … and can lead to early death if one’s obstructed airway is not cleared.

  5. That EV is one heck of a phantom load…

    The author of the above blog is concerned over the ~5W load of a wall wart power supply. What’s the phantom load of a EV’s battery thermal management system? Even if an EV owner “opts in” on voluntarily waiting until off-peak times to charge, there’s the added load of millions of vehicles trying to protect their battery packs from extreme heat and cold weather. Just when the grid is under stress to keep humans comfortable and plumbing intact.

    • Texas is already feeling the pinch this summer with power consumption setting records practically every week since the beginning of July.

    • yeah, and IF there becomes more and more EV’s, off-peak charging becomes peak pretty fast…………hahahahahaha………..
      “Hey! what happened to my off-peak kwh rate”

  6. In saner times, car guys like Henry Ford the second, would have told the feds to f*** off for even suggesting that Ford build something as stupid as the Lightning. Ford could do so then, because it was not a ward of the state yet.

    I bet HF2 would have loved the Raptor though. For the premium price (for a vehicle built on a lowly pickup) that it brings Ford. But I would guess he would be perplexed by both of them.

  7. I paid 5200 in US wampum for a Ford F-150, did some mechanical repairs and had a new exhaust system installed. A little interior work to make the driver’s seat great again, invested 7000 dollars to have something worth driving.

    Don’t need no stinkin’ 50,000 dollars for an electric truck that won’t do squat. Have to continuously worry that it might do the old thermal runaway, might not be so lucky one day. Then it’s gone for good.

    I won’t be driving 2000 miles to Guadalajara, a few miles is all I need to go, a small town 30 miles up the road, far enough.

    A new Ford Raptor will be a millstone around my aching neck. 107 grand has to get there somehow. There it was, gone.

    Have to win the lotto, not going to happen. Wouldn’t buy one even if I did win the lotto, might want to buy a sailboat though. One with a diesel engine, sail Puget Sound and stuff.

    Flying is for the birds.

    The Sandhill cranes are flying, the smoke up north in Canada is maybe driving them to an early migration, me thinks. Watching for some Whooping cranes, they migrate with Sandhills.

  8. $110,000 work truck! What kind of work? Drive around and show your neighbors how you waste your money. $10,000 in state taxes alone,,, then registering it and God only knows what the insurance will cost.

    $1332 per month for ten years at 6%.
    $40,000 in interest alone over ten years! One could get a new car for that alone.
    Insurance probably ranges from $2-$4,000 per year but that’ll be pocket change compared to the rest of it. Say $2500 per year,,, add another $25,000 over ten years.

    And you have to get in line to buy one! Are these the Americans that cannot afford a $500 emergency expenditure I keep reading about?

  9. ‘Ford has to pretend that losers are “winners” – no matter how much it costs ($4.5 billion, so far).’ — eric

    Horns of a dilemma:

    ‘Big wage increases will make it harder for the U.S. to build an electric-vehicle industry that can challenge China’s dominance, said Willy Shih, a management professor at Harvard Business School.

    “This puts the administration really in a fix,” Shih said. “You can take the side of labor and say OK, let’s raise everybody’s costs. I get that, but then what’s the long-term competitiveness of the domestic industry?”

    ‘The UAW, some of whose members walked off the job on Friday, wants a pay raise of more than 30% over four years, 32-hour workweeks, and an end to the use of temporary workers.

    ‘Union workers’ earnings including benefits of roughly $60 per hour exceed the $55 average at nonunion plants and $45 at nonunion Tesla, according to Barclays analysts. Wages in other countries are lower. The average Mexican auto worker’s wage is 18% of its U.S. counterpart.

    “If the contract is anywhere close to [the UAW’s] numbers, then maybe at least at the below-$50,000 price point we’ll be driving a lot of Chinese cars,” Tu Le, an auto industry consultant, said.’ — WSJ

    Ol’ Fred Hayek wrote about this decades ago. When a socialist state centrally plans everything, from production to wages, it ends up choking to death on its own contradictions.

    Ms Market coulda fixed this mess! 🙂

  10. As others have observed, a $65k Lightning and a $105k Raptor are both absurdities, as are $30k “economy” cars. When the median family income is around 50k and sick care insurance, taxes, shelter, food, and clothing come out of that, there is a market for a VW Bug or Rabbit at around $2k (10k after inflation). That need is for a car that is not merely cheap but of good quality and economically maintainable.

    Even with EZ 7 year vehicular mortgages, the system is completely broken. The train wreck has already happened, but the people in the rear cars haven’t panicked (yet). We’ve been living under a form of communism for a very long time,and it has eviscerated and exsanguinated our society as the embrace of evil/power/compulsion always does.

    I pray we do as well as the Soviets did in dumping their system, it starts when enough people treat the governments as a predator, something to generally avoid and kill when circumstances allow.

  11. Wow! What a treat to get to drive such a unique truck. With a majority of your test vehicles being either EVs or mundane crossovers, this adds excitement and something different. And yes very few will ever get the opportunity to own one; myself especially. A $107,350.00 is very expensive and about all the dealerships will tack on at least $10,000 or better markup before it leaves the lot. Also test drives on something like this are denied to many. Only those who can afford it and are intent on buying it will get to test drive it AFTER they sign the sales paperwork. Enjoy the ride Eric!

  12. I find it interesting that Ford sent the Raptor to The Woods for review with the Cybertruck announcement coming any day now.

    Meanwhile Brie is shilling the Nissan Z in ads airing on ESPN in Texas as the state faces another round of rolling blackouts due to hot dry weather returning later this week.

    This Fall is EV Waterloo, even if it won’t be immediately acknowledged as such, but the faithful still believe. Another co-worker here in Austin recently traded an older but perfectly serviceable RAV4 for a Model X.

    • Hi Roscoe,

      Ford has been very good about sending me all of its vehicles to test drive. Ford knows I will give them a fair shake and even go to bat for them when they can’t openly say something about some things.

      Like EEEEEEEEEEveeeeeeees, for instance.

      I am waiting for Martin Brock to come to the latter’s defense…

      • That’s a major problem with the automakers. For decades, they have been increasingly unwilling or unable to stand up for themselves or their customers. I suspect it began when GM hired some PI to set Ralph Nader up with a prostitute when he was engineering the Ribicoff and Kennedy hearings on auto safety in the mid 1960’s. When the stunt failed, it was like GM and others began a long retreat from the public eye. As a result of the high school stunt and because of their refusal to build vehicles that could handle, it gave credibility to the anti-car movement which Nader was probably orchestrating.

        A couple of years later, the Clean Air Act passed, and the auto industry was grabbing its ankles. Only a few short years prior, GM, Ford, Chrysler, AMC and others were in a horsepower war that arose from the styling war that marked the 1950’s and the 1960’s.

        In the 1970’s automakers were anticipating speedometer rules that were finally implemented (FMVSS 127) in 1979 for the 1980 model year. Beginning in 1975, carmakers reduced the top reading to 100 mph on their best selling domestic models. In 1977, many speedometers started reading 80 or 85 mph, well before FMVSS 127 was implemented.  

        Throughout the 1980’s automakers were marginally successful on holding off changes to CAFE regulations, but during the bush administration, when gas went over $2.00, the Democrats used it as an opportunity to pass the Energy Conservation act of 2007 which raised gas mileage to 36 mpg. As a result, we got direct injection and 10 speed transmissions. With NHTSA’s authority, changes to FMVSS occurred to make cars heavier, culminating in the dangerous products they are selling today. Those changes began in the early 2000’s and accelerated by 2007. Automakers were given 3 years to comply with largely shitty designs which reduce outward visibility.

        The bottom line, is that sometime in the 1990’s automakers completely supined and lost their voice. They have a history of being all to eager to anticipate regulations and force their idea of technology down our throats.

        On occasion a vehicle like the Raptor gets through, although that’s more of an affectation than anything else. Ford, GM, Stellantis, and most every other car maker are a bunch of pussies.

        None of them understood the power of the advertiorial. Mobil,in the middle of the energy crisis, began advertising reasons why it was taking place, seeking to get the government to decontrol oil and gasoline prices. It worked. By 1981, the first act of the Reagan administration was to remove the remaining price controls. Not one bill has ever been introduced to reimpose controls despite rapid and volatile swings in energy prices. Not one bill to formulate a workable national energy strategy has been proposed in the congress except for the recent machinations on “climate change.” The control exhibited by climate scam people is relatively recent.

        Automakers would have been smart to advertise positions and attempt to influence the political economy. The refusal to do so is at their peril, and ours

        • This is very well-said, Swamp –

          I can attest to much of it on a first-hand basis as I was witness to some of it. Back in the ’90s, when I was working in DC at The Washington Times, I regularly met with GM and Ford and Chrysler’s government relations people. They were all men and all opposed to “safetyism” – off the record – and we got on thick as thieves. But the culture within these companies has changed dramatically in the intervening years and now these same companies are controlled by reflexively Woke types (male and female) who actually seem to hate the products they’re selling (that aren’t EeeeeeeeeeVeeeeees) as well as those who buy them.

        • ‘the Energy Conservation act of 2007’ — swamprat

          From the George W Bush White House archives:

          ‘The Bill Will Produce Some Of The Largest CO2 Emission Cuts In Our Nation’s History

          Taken together, all of these measures could reduce projected CO2 emissions by billions of metric tons.

          These results help advance the U.S. commitment at the UN climate change meeting in Bali last week to pursue quantifiable actions to reduce carbon emissions.

          Another reason to despise the smirking RINO chimp. Biden, Obama, and Hitlary Clitler — all of them DemonRat Senators in 2007 — all voted Yea. I puke in their general direction.

        • They fought the pollution laws weakly in the 70s, probably think they’d get around them somehow. Look up how Pontiac tried to get the Super Duty 455 out the door. They unfortunately got caught.

          Instead of 49 state cars and California cars, they should have pulled out of California. Air bags were the last thing they fought.

          • They sure did. If technology hadn’t given us electronic fuel injection and engine ECU’s, we would still be driving V8 powered cars with 140 hp.

            It would have cost the automakers a lot less to send lobbyists with scantily clad models to influence the congress to write favorable pollution laws than to comply with their bullshit.

  13. ‘we live in crazy times.’ — eric

    Indeed, they are downright bipolar.

    A $107,350 Raptor with a fuel-sucking 700-hp supercharged V8, juxtaposed with a near identically-bodied, battery-powered ‘zero emissions’ [sic] pickup that costs $64,995, is a bizarre contrast. And not just because the average buyer can afford neither, making both patently unsustainable.

    Ford is like the owner of a whorehouse ‘diversifying’ into manufacturing chastity belts (at a painful loss) in a bid for community respectability. How’s that workin’ out for y’all, Jim Farley?

    Five years from now, I suggest, both of these rather extreme (in their own way) vehicles will be history. As might Ford itself. But that don’t confront me …

    • Me neither. Ford has been making this bed for decades. Ford made horrible, unrealiable vehicles since the 1970s. During the 80s and 90s, they used increasingly cheap parts. Thir customer service is horrible. Their change process is non existent. They keep defective designs in their vehicles for the entire model run, not updating their broken crap.

      Like all of them, instead of standing up they just bend over and take whatever the government gives them, because they lost their position as a market lead and innovator decades ago.

      They gave up their megaphone.

      900 horsepower one model year vehicles doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the long term. It’s like a tip of the hat and a nod to a past glory that wasn’t really there.

      In short, Ford means Found on Road Dead.

  14. Five year plans and new deals didn’t work, and neither will the all EV all the time. Any time you take the free market out of the equation, the process fails, whatever the process may be. As is normal, people will voluntarily buy that which they are not commanded to buy more often than what they ARE commanded to buy.


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