How it all began: When Ford began its foray into the electric car business in 2016, the company had only been developing a small fleet of pickups.
Ford had always had a strong interest in the hybrid electric vehicle market and had built prototypes and sold them to the public at low cost.
It was the start of what would eventually become a $5 billion business, but it was the beginning of a revolution in the electric vehicle industry.
The concept of electric pickups, which would allow customers to drive in the same car as their families, was one of the first products the company developed.
“We wanted to take a risk, we wanted to see what the market was like and then to make that bet,” says Gary Miller, the head of Ford’s electric vehicle strategy.
In 2017, Ford introduced a redesigned F-Series pickup.
It used a modified version of the F-250 pickup, with a larger battery and more efficient motor, to compete with GM’s Chevy Bolt EV.
The redesigned F Series was the first electric vehicle to compete in the U.S. It sold well and gained popularity in the market, but Ford’s sales were slowing.
“When we started to get to the point where we were trying to figure out how to make an electric vehicle that was really viable, we had no idea what we were doing,” says Miller.
“It wasn’t until a year ago that we really figured it out.”
A new generation of batteries The next step in the evolution of the electric pickup was to create a new generation, and that would be the batteries.
In 2019, Ford made a decision to use a different type of battery from the previous generations, called the new lithium-ion battery.
This was the same type of lithium-polymer battery used in the Tesla Model S and Tesla Roadster, two of the most popular electric cars in the world.
“For us to make the first vehicle with the new battery in the lineup, we needed to be sure we had a battery with a good long-term reliability,” says Chris Nelson, the EV portfolio manager at Ford’s battery research and development.
This is where the lithium-sulfur battery comes into play.
“If you can take lithium-sand, which is a good source of lithium, and you can store it and then use it for a longer time, it has the potential to be really robust,” says Nelson.
Ford chose the lithium battery as it was more efficient than any other battery available at the time.
The first electric F-series truck, which was unveiled in 2018, uses the new batteries.
“The reason why the lithium batteries have an advantage is they have a lower power density than conventional lithium-phosphate batteries, which can have lower energy density.
They have a better storage density than lithium-air batteries,” says Mark McNeill, director of vehicle performance at Ford.
The company says its batteries have been able to last a decade and a half, even after being subjected to extreme temperatures.
“They are very durable, they are a very low energy density, and they are very stable, so you don’t need to replace them very often,” says McNeill.
Ford used the battery to create the next generation of electric trucks, the F150.
It has a new design and the company claims it can handle a maximum range of 155 miles on a single charge.
However, the new design is far from perfect.
“This is the first time that a truck with an all-electric package has been able do this, so we’re just looking forward to seeing it in the field,” says John Gaudette, president of electric vehicle development at Ford in a statement.
The new F150 pickup that was unveiled on June 2, 2021 is powered by a new battery that Ford says can deliver 155 miles of range in three hours and 30 minutes.
“In order to achieve that, the battery needs to be able to deliver the same amount of power that the existing battery does,” says Scott Johnson, senior engineer at Ford Hybrid Systems, which built the new F-100 pickup.
This new battery, called a LiFePO4, is lighter and more energy dense than the battery in a previous generation.
Ford says the new generation can handle the full range of its range of electric vehicles.
The battery uses a hybrid design with two battery cells with two different types of electrodes.
“Battery technology has changed, but not in the way that we expected,” says Michael Kibler, vice president of the Ford Performance Group.
The most important technology to the new hybrid design is the electrochemical reaction between the lithium and the nickel in the battery.
“With nickel, it’s very strong and it’s not as reactive, so it doesn’t have the same negative charge that lithium has,” says Kibling.
“And with lithium, it is reactive, it reacts very quickly and then the nickel reacts very slowly.”
Ford says this process is called a hybrid battery and the new electric F150 has a total of