Spend an afternoon driving the Ford F-150 Lightning around the vineyards and redwood-shaded back roads of California wine country and the pickup’s considerable power is apparent. What makes the electric version of America’s best-selling vehicle a potential game-changer, though, is not its acceleration (zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds) or its range (up to 320 miles on a charge). Rather it’s the technology that taps the Lightning’s battery pack to power your home or the electric grid itself during increasingly frequent climate-driven blackouts.
The extended-range Lightning’s 131 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack boasts almost 10 times the capacity of a Tesla Powerwall, an $11,000 home backup battery that can’t be driven to the supermarket. The Lightning is “a mini powerplant for your home,” says Jason Glickman, executive vice president for engineering, planning and strategy at California utility PG&E Corp. “It can support the grid on a hot summer day, when we have demand spiking.”