The folks at Ford Performance are no strangers to building a successful off-roader, with Raptor variants of the Bronco, Ranger and F-150 all capturing dedicated fans. The automaker is gearing up to bring that 4x4 knowledge to the EV space, highlighting its all-new F-150 Lightning Switchgear tech demonstrator.
Like the electric SuperVan twins, the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400, and the Mustang Mach-E 1400, this new pickup truck, unveiled Wednesday, is not a genuine production concept. These attention-grabbing machines instead serve as hotbeds of innovation and discovery for the brand’s engineers, who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to push so far beyond a saleable unit. This particular build was done in collaboration with the team at RTR Vehicles, drawing inspiration from 2016’s F-150 RTR Ultimate Fun-Haver project vehicle.
As the name suggests, the F-150 Lightning Switchgear is based on a Lightning pickup, complete with the 131-kWh extended-range battery pack. The truck comes from the factory with a dual-motor all-wheel drive system, which provides 580 hp and 775 lb-ft when combined with the big battery. While the truck’s powertrain remains stock, the F-150 Lightning Switchgear is hardly the same vehicle it started out as.
To bring some off-road capability to the EV, Ford has created a bespoke suspension setup consisting of double-wishbones up front and a trick multi-link independent rear. The setup provides nearly 12 extra inches of track width front and rear, allowing for 11 inches of travel in the front and 13 inches in the rear, respectively. A set of Fox 3.0 Remote Reservoir shocks have been installed at all four corners, complete with a six-inch stroke. Ford opted for some 18-inch RTR Tech 6 wheels, which come wrapped in 37-inch Nitto Grappler rubber to make easy work of most obstacles. A chase rack with two full-size spares is located in the bed.
To hide all of that upgraded hardware, the F-150 Lightning Switchgear features a bespoke body. The front fenders, bedsides, and rear bumper are now all made from carbon, while an integrated roof spoiler changes the profile. The front and rear bumpers have also been revised for improved ground clearance and approach angles. Steel rock rails have been installed to protect those carbon panels, while an underbelly skid setup protects the vital EV components. We should get our first taste of how well this thing handles the dirt shortly, as FoMoCo is bringing it out to the King of the Hammers, which starts on January 25.
That said, the Switchgear isn’t only an off-road machine. While the automaker hasn’t given us many specifics yet, it's made it clear that this EV has a street-oriented personality as well. In fact, the truck’s suspension setup was chosen specifically with that flexibility in mind, and can be lowered significantly from its ORV setup. The team also developed a different wheel and tire package for the street variant, with larger 20-inch rims and Nitto NT420V rubber. A performance-oriented take on the Lightning would certainly be a welcome addition, considering where that nameplate really comes from. For now, we’re just gonna have to wait until Ford gets some public demonstrations going.
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