It’s been a known issue for a while: electric vehicles don’t perform well in cold temperatures. The batteries lose charge significantly faster, leading to a lower range. But Ford wanted to ensure the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck would be able to tackle the extreme cold weather and low traction surfaces to give customers maximum confidence.
Ford F-150 Lightning: Testing In The Biggest, Coldest State
This winter, a group of Ford engineers spent two weeks in the heart of Alaska in minus 30-degree temperatures to continue their work on fine-tuning the F-150 Lightning, testing and monitoring the vehicle’s performance in snow and ice. The main focus for this testing was to dial in on how the truck delivers its power to the ground on slippery surfaces. While most customers won’t regularly see -30 degree temperatures, Ford says they should feel confident in the capabilities of their F-150 Lightning.
This type of powertrain evaluation was formally called low-mu testing and evaluates how the all-electric powertrain adjusts power delivery to the wheels on low-traction surfaces, most notably snow and ice in extreme conditions. Ford engineers drove a fleet of six F-150 Lightning pre-production units on an assortment of wintery surfaces such as loose snow, packed-groomed snow, complete ice, half ice-half concrete surfaces, and more in the frigid temperatures.
Since the F-150 Lightning has two motors, front and rear, the truck quickly sends power to the wheels within milliseconds when it detects wheel slippage. The final result is essentially two engines working together to determine how to deliver torque to the ground best, giving customers that drive in the snow and ice a boost of confidence. In addition, the 4×4 system is always on, and that paired with the low center of gravity provides even more confident handling.
The Ford F-150 Lightnings underwent 12-hour test days which allowed engineers to adjust the calibration in real-time while testing so they could maximize efficiency.