• AdventureIntel

FORD WINS THE SPACE RACE (but it doesn’t matter)

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

Words by Josh Leonard Photos supplied by Ford

In the 1950s and 60s, the entire world was embroiled in a race to the moon. Okay so, not the entire world and it might not have even been in the 1950s and 60s. I wouldn’t know - I spent my teenage years doing wicked sick BMX stunts and punching darts behind the school toilets, not learning.

My entire knowledge of the space-race is based on a National Geographic magazine I read in the waiting room of my local Emergency Department while my mum was trying to explain to a doctor that I had ripped an earring out while trying to fit a clothes hanger over my head. What can I say? I was a cool kid.

A lot like Derek Zoolander, electric vehicles are so hot right now. Every manufacturer wants to make one, every soy latte wielding enviro-maniac wants to drive one. While EV’s have been available to consumers for some time, there has never been an electric utility vehicle actually put into production.

For years, designers and engineers from all the big brands have been starting friction fires in their offices while they rub their brain cells together and try desperately to fill the gap in the market before anyone else does.

“A lot like Derek Zoolander, electric vehicles are so hot right now”

It’s been the space-race of the 21st century and the world has been watching on with bated breath waiting to see which manufacturer would take out pole position. Tesla tried to make it look like they had it in the bag but we have a sneaking suspicion that the Cyber Truck was a cunning plan by Mr Musk to drive stock prices up more than it was anything else.

While everyone else was busy fussing over the electric piece of sheet metal promised by Tesla, the boffins at Ford were quietly swinging spanners and putting the finishing touches on their very own electric utility. Sorry Rivian - but if you ain’t first, you’re last.

Introducing the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro (what’s the bet that the bloke who named it used to work for Apple?) – the very first production electric utility vehicle.

Word on the street is that the F-150 Lightning Pro will be in the sub $70K AUD price bracket with lesser models available at almost half that, in an obvious attempt by Ford to lure fleet and commercial buyers to their dealerships.

The F-150 Lightning Pro, which is due for release to the US domestic market in northern spring, boasts two electric motors (one per axle). These are capable of a combined 318kW, 1051Nm and a range of 370KM according to figures provided by Ford.

So, while Ford took out top spot on the bad-analogy podium, does being first to the factory really mean anything for us Aussies? No.

There’s so much that needs to change in Australia before EV utes become commonplace on our roads. Namely, charging stations and access to them.

Wanna hear a straight up fact? 20% of American EV owners have returned to internal-combustion due to issues with charging capabilities. America has over 120,000 charging ports, Australia has around 3,000 - you can see what I’m getting at here, can’t you?

A flashy polar bear friendly EV ute is all well and good on paper but how environmentally friendly is it when you have to put it on the back of a heavy-hauler because you tried to tow a caravan across the Nullarbor with it?

Now, before you all come at me on social media for not immediately throwing myself behind the EV movement like a 15 year old girl throws herself at Jason Bieber or whatever his name is, I’ll have you know I own a keep-cup and I recycle, so I’m practically Al Gore.

Forgive me for my cynicism, but, if consumers in their masses are going to get onboard with EV utes, Australia should probably get onboard with creating ice-cap friendly infrastructure. Maybe, while we’re hard at work installing charging stations along the Oodnadatta Track, US-based manufacturers could put a more concerted effort into making production RHD models.

Until those things happen, there’s just no point in getting excited about any of this. Sorry, not sorry.