It stuck out like a big blue monster truck. Something about the styling, the headlights, and the sleek lines on the Ford F-150 Lightning is eye-catching and attention-grabbing. More than once, someone would give me a thumbs-up as I drove by. When I pulled up to a charger in my town, a guy jumped out and said he loved the Lightning and how it looks.
The same thing happened when I tested the Lightning not too long ago. That week, during my test, a snowstorm made it hard to not only drive around in my town but also hampered how much charging I could do, since I mostly kept the vehicle in my garage on a normal wall outlet plugging into the car. Thankfully, for this second test, the weather was much more cooperative and I drove to a fast charger across town and also charged up on a level two charger.
Here’s the thing about electrics these days. They require a little more planning. I have a Lectron charger in for review now, but I have not arranged for the install yet. That means I have to plan out my routes and, in most cases, leave the vehicle on the EV charger while I sip coffee or eat breakfast in a nearby cafe. This time, I was able to test the FordPass app, and it made a huge difference in how I could monitor the vehicle in real time.
The app has one feature that is critically important. It allowed me to check the status of the charge so I would know when it was time to go (and let someone else use the charger). About every 15 minutes, I would pull out the app and see that the range had increased a bit. Level two chargers add about 25 miles per hour, although that depends on the vehicle you use.
The app also lets you lock and unlock the car, and also pre-condition the cab. In winter, that meant I could heat up the vehicle about 20 minutes before I was ready to go. In summer it means you could cool it down. While you can do this from the cab, it’s even easier with the app — all you do is click the big start button. You can also set off the horn and lights if you feel like you are in danger or, in my case, if you want to scare people in the driveway of your house.
The app also lets you find nearby chargers, which was not as useful in my area — there is only one and it is located in a parking lot downtown. What I would really like is a way to see if someone is already using the charger or even some way to check a video camera in the parking lot. Once when I wanted to charge, there was someone already parked there so I waited a bit and then realized I could charge easier at home, leaving the vehicle plugged in all night.
Right now, I would say the electric charging infrastructure is functional but not quite there yet. Once I install that home charger, it will all become much easier, and there are plenty of chargers around a remote office I use. In fact, many parking garages are now starting to install fast chargers, and those are prime spots right at the entrance that are not used that often. Eventually, parking garages might have a charger installed on an entire floor.
For now, the app is critically important because it allows me to check the status and plan out my day. I’m not sure how that would work without the app, but it would likely involve going to the truck and looking at the charge status on the display above the steering wheel. I’m looking forward to a time when charging is everywhere and we don’t even have to think about it.