Testing vehicles in conditions that they may never see can prove how tough the equipment is. Ford did just that this winter taking the all-new F-150 Lightning to Alaska to test in minus 30-degree temperatures.
“Alaska provides us the extremely cold temperatures, snow and ice-covered surfaces that we need to push the F-150 Lightning in this type of testing, which is really focused on dialing in how the truck delivers its power to the ground on slippery surfaces,” said Cameron Dillon, F-150 Lightning powertrain engineer. “Customers may not regularly see minus 30-degree mornings like we are seeing here, but they will see winter cold, snow, and icy roads, and they should feel confident their F-150 Lightning is ready for all of it.”
Formally called low-mu testing, Ford's testing would look at how the all-electric powertrain adjusts power delivery to the wheels on low-traction surfaces. Ford engineers had a fleet of six F-150 Lightnings to test on a wide range of conditions such as loose snow, packed-groomed snow, complete ice, and half ice-half concrete surfaces.
"F-150 Lightning in the snow is a very different ballgame compared to gas vehicles," said Nick Harris, F-150 Lightning powertrain engineer. "The responses are extremely quick, and the dual motors make it as if you have two engines pumping out power in one vehicle. A lot of our work is to coordinate the two motors to work together to best deliver torque to the ground so that customers who drive in the snow and ice ultimately feel very confident."
The F-150 Lightning pickup can sense wheel slip and adjust power to the wheels within milliseconds due to the electric nature of the truck. Some other key features of the F-150 Lightning include standard dual motors front and rear, standard always-on 4x4, quick torque delivery, standard electronic-locking rear differential, selectable drive modes, and a low center of gravity.
Long 12-hour test days gave engineers plenty of time to test the truck in all sorts of cold weather conditions, but this wasn't the only place they have tested the F-150 Lightning. The powertrain team has conducted low-mu testing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Borrego Springs, Johnson Valley, and Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds near Milford.
It is hard to argue with all the testing Ford has done on the F-150 Lightning, but the actual test will come when the truck has 35-inch tires and a lift kit.