Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road

meet the woman who helped ford beat range anxiety and get the electric f-150 lightning truck on the road
© Ford Linda Zhang led the team behind Ford’s first all-electric version of its best-selling F-150 truck. Ford

  • Linda Zhang led the team that made Ford’s first electric truck.
  • The F-150 Lightning has had 200,000 orders and helped create a new generation of truckers.
  • Zhang said beating ‘range anxiety’ and demonstrating the truck’s towing strength were crucial.

Ford’s F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the US for 45 consecutive years, and the most popular vehicle overall for no less than four decades.

While getting drivers of passenger cars to go electric has been reasonably simple, convincing buyers that an electric truck can match their gas-powered equivalents in range, payload, towing capacity, durability, and reliability is much more of a challenge, the AAA’s Greg Brannon told Insider.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
1/9 SLIDES © Barry Smith

The most outstanding cars Ford mega-fans saw at the largest Ford-only auto show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Ford fans gathered at the carmaker’s largest auto show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania this weekend. Showgoers got to see everything from classic Ford models to the latest Ford electric vehicles. Take a look at eight cars that caught attention at the show. This article is part of the Ride Along series, a collection of stories recapping some of the biggest auto shows around the country.

Car enthusiasts from near and far got a glimpse of Ford’s storied history and charged-up future at the Carlisle Ford Nationals show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania this past weekend.

The automaker may be dropping $50 billion to transition to electric vehicles, but Ford’s hardly turning its back on its gas-powered legacy.

Ford has more than 100 years of history, stemming from the Model T to its most famous designs — such as the Mustang and the F-150 — chock-full of impressive performance, speed, and design specs.

At the show, the largest Ford-only event in the world, attendees could see a Carlisle car show record of 3,454 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles spanning the automaker’s history.

From classic Fairlanes, Galaxies, and Thunderbolts to Torinos and Shelbys to all-new versions of the Bronco and Mustang, Ford-lovers could take a look at everything vintage and modern from the Detroit giant.

Here’s a look at eight cars, old and new, that caught attention at the show.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
2/9 SLIDES © Ford

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor

The higher-performance version of Ford’s Bronco SUV has more than 400 horsepower and a towing capacity of 4,500 pounds.

Starting at $70,000, the Bronco Raptor is built for off-roading and significant rock-crawling in the desert. It rides on 37-inch all-terrain tires and is nearly 10 inches wider than the base model to allow for higher-speed cornering.

The automaker called the vehicle its “most powerful street-legal Bronco ever.”

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
3/9 SLIDES © Ford

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT

The all-electric luxury Mustang Mach-E GT SUV — which has a range of 250 miles per charge — starts at just under $61,995, up from the base model’s $43,895 asking price.

The performance package of the GT has 480 horsepower and uses its 634 pound-feet of torque to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.

The vehicle is Ford’s rival to other electric SUVs like the Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Volkswagen ID.4.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
4/9 SLIDES © Ford

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

The electric version of Ford’s iconic pickup truck starts at $39,947.

The 2022 iteration has a 320-mile range, a payload capacity of up to 2,000 pounds, and a 10,000-pound towing capacity. The automaker says it can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 4.5 seconds with 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque.

It has vehicle-to-grid technology, capable of powering a house for up to three days. It also has a 14.1-cubic-feet frunk.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
Slideshow continues on the next slide
Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
5/9 SLIDES © Ford

2022 Ford Explorer ST

Starting at $48,245, the Explorer ST is the performance variant of the popular SUV, with 400 horsepower and a top speed of 143 miles per hour.

The vehicle seats seven and touts a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and 415 pound-feet of torque.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
6/9 SLIDES © Jacques Patenaude

1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Jacques Patenaude showed off his 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 at the show.

The GT350 was a collaboration between Ford and Carroll Shelby — an auto designer and the model’s namesake — and built in San Jose, California, at Shelby’s shop.

Ford eventually took over the engineering and rights to their work together, so production on the GT350 moved to Michigan at the end of the 1967-model run. Ford then rebranded the vehicle as the Shelby Cobra.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
7/9 SLIDES © Brandon Schaffner

1972 Ford Maverick Olympic Sprint

Brandon Schaffner showed his classic coupe, a 1972 Ford Maverick Olympic Sprint with a 302-2V V-8 engine.

The limited-edition package is an ode to the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and is credited to Edsel Ford II. Originally the car was a rear-wheel drive, two-door sedan; Ford later remade it as a four-door model on the same platform.

Ford has since resurrected the Maverick nameplate for its compact truck.

Meet the woman who helped Ford beat range anxiety and get the electric F-150 Lightning truck on the road
8/9 SLIDES © Rich Sarginger

1963 Ford Fairlane

Carlisle crowds got a look at a 1963 Ford Fairlane, owned by Rich Sarginger of St. Marys, Pennsylvania.

A V-8 engine often went into the two-door hardtop coupe.

Upgraded styling in the Fairlane helped Ford rival the Chevrolet Chevelle the following year, according to classic-car-valuation site Hagerty.

The woman rising to that challenge for Ford is Linda Zhang, the chief engineer of Ford’s electric version of the F-150 called the Lightning.

There have been 200,000 orders for the truck, and the level of interest prompted Ford to almost double production to 150,000 a year, but buyers still face a three-year wait to get behind the wheel. It’s also been a hit with critics.

Hearts and minds

So how have Zhang and her team been able to convince truck-loving Americans to go electric?

With a background in engineering, finance, manufacturing, and strategy at Ford, Zhang worked on the Ford Explorer and Escape SUVs before getting the call that Ford wanted her to push forward with an electric version of the hugely popular F-150.

But Zhang, who joined Ford 26 years ago on the company’s graduate program, told Insider simply replacing the gas-powered model with an electric version wouldn’t work.

“You have to change hearts and minds. Minds are something you can do with dollars – EVs are cheaper to operate. But what do we do with a vehicle to change hearts?”

Before getting to that point, Zhang first had to persuade Ford employees, many of whom she said were skeptical about the very idea of a plug-in F-150.

“We had several people on the team that would say “I’ll work on this project but I’m never going to be one of your customers’,” she said.

meet the woman who helped ford beat range anxiety and get the electric f-150 lightning truck on the road
© Ford The electric F-150 Lightning can also be used as a power source. Ford

The first obstacle was overcoming the biggest barrier to EV adoption: range anxiety.

In focus groups, Zhang said most customers realised they typically needed less than 200 miles for one trip. The cheapest version of the Lightning model, the Pro SR, has a range of 230 miles, rising to 320 miles for more expensive versions.

Zhang, who owns a Lightning, recalled how she was able to drive her 18-year-old daughter on a 300-mile trip to her first semester of college with a brief stop to recharge on the way.

Towing was the other major barrier, as many potential customers feared the electric version would not have the same power as the petrol-fueled equivalent. Early customer reviews though, appear to have dismissed those concerns.

Its dual use as a back-up generator was a further bonus for buyers, Zhang said.

Those sceptical Ford employees were soon adding their names to waiting lists, including an engineer she said saved a wedding after a power outage by plugging in a Lightning.

New generation of eco-truckers

Ford has beaten competitors like Tesla’s Cybertruck to market, and with a starting price of $39,000 the Lightning is the cheapest electric truck available in the US – nearly half the price of the Rivian R1T.

meet the woman who helped ford beat range anxiety and get the electric f-150 lightning truck on the road
© FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images Elon Musk launches the Tesla Cybertruck. Getty Images

As well as slowly convincing drivers to go electric, Zhang said the plug-in F-150 is winning over a new generation of more environmentally conscious, and diverse, drivers.

“I would say at this point the customer profile is dramatically younger. It’s in states like California and New York that we normally don’t sell full-size trucks,” Ford CEO James Farley said on an earnings call in April.

Its popularity will come as a relief to Ford following its $1 billion investment in the truck and hiring thousands of employees to get the vehicle into production.

“The significance of the F-150 Lightning in modern automotive manufacturing cannot be overstated,” said the AAA’s Brannon.

“The F-150 has consistently been one of the most popular vehicles in the U.S for many years – the electrification of this model represents a major step in the mass production and adoption of electric vehicles.”

He added: “These buyers will vocalize their experiences whether they are positive or negative, which will have a significant impact on convincing others whether or not to consider an electric vehicle for their next vehicle purchase.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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