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Ford reveals new electric F-150 Lightning pickup during Biden's visit to Michigan plant

The highly anticipated vehicle resembles the automaker’s current F-150 but has some unique exterior styling details.
/ Source: CNBC.com

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor previewed its new electric F-150 Lightning pickup earlier than planned during a visit Tuesday by President Joe Biden to the Michigan plant that will produce the vehicle.

The highly anticipated truck resembles the automaker’s current F-150 but has unique exterior styling such as a closed-off grille and light bar across the front of the vehicle that connects its headlights. Sitting next to a traditional 2021 Ford F-150, the electric pickup appeared to be about the same size with a smoother, more aerodynamic design.

Ford declined to release additional details about the vehicle ahead of its official public reveal at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The company unexpectedly showed the pickup for Biden’s tour of Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the vehicle starts production this spring.

During remarks at the plant, Biden jokingly said he would like to drive the electric F-150 if he could “lose the Secret Service and go out to the track.”

President Joe Biden tests the new Ford F-150 lightning truck as he visits VDAB Ford facility in Dearborn, Mich., on May 18, 2021.
President Joe Biden tests the new Ford F-150 lightning truck as he visits VDAB Ford facility in Dearborn, Mich., on May 18, 2021.Leah Millis / Reuters

Ford made that happen after the event, allowing Biden to drive the F-150 Lightning at a nearby development center for Ford with a Secret Service agent in the vehicle.

“This sucker’s quick,” Biden told reporters. He said the vehicle goes about 0 to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds before speeding away in the truck. “OK, here we go, ready?”

Biden addressed the crowd gathered at the factory before test driving the pickup.

“My name is Joe Biden and I’m a car guy,” he said as he took the stage in front of the F-150 Lightning at the plant.

He spent the beginning of his speech talking about the automotive industry and electric vehicles before focusing on the need for America to catch up to China on the production of new technologies such as EV batteries and semiconductor chips.

He also reiterated support for new incentives to spur consumer adoption of EVs and switching the government’s fleet to electric vehicles like the F-150 Lightning. He did not go into details about excluding high-priced EVs from such incentives

“The future of the auto industry is electric,” Biden said during a speech inside the plant. “There’s no turning back.”

Biden also thanked the United Auto Workers union for helping to get him elected as a senator. He reiterated his support for the union and American workers, calling them the “biggest secret we have.” He encouraged automakers to “deepen” their relationship with the UAW.

Ford executives have said the F-150 Lightning will be a true pickup truck designed for commercial work, unlike expected lifestyle pickups such as the GMC Hummer EV or Tesla Cybertruck. It is expected to go on sale by the middle of next year.

“It is just the best of Ford,” Jim Farley, Ford’s CEO, said last week during the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

Farley has said the F-150 Lightning will be able “to power your home during an outage, it’s even quicker than the original F-150 Lightning performance truck; and it will constantly improve through over-the-air updates.”

When announcing the vehicle’s name, Farley compared its significance to the Ford Model T and Ford Mustang.

Biden toured the facility to promote his agenda for American-made electric vehicles and $2 trillion infrastructure package that includes $174 billion to spur the development and adoption of EVs.

Pickups are viewed as an important way to increase consumer adoption of EVs because they’re the bestselling vehicles in the country. They’re also extremely important to fleet and commercial customers, expected to be among the largest purchasers of EVs.

Biden called for an increase in investment for local semiconductor production to ensure a shortage like the one facing the U.S. auto industry doesn’t happen again.