The electric F-150 prototype towing 1 million lbs. Ford

Ford conducted a demonstration in which an all-electric Ford F-150 prototype towed 1 million pounds of rail cars for 1,000 feet.

Ford then loaded 42 F-150s into the rail cars and the prototype pickup towed a total of 1.25 million pounds. That’s 625 tons.

The electric F-150 is expected to hit the market in the next few years. Ford is currently testing prototype versions.

A properly configured Ford F-150 pickup truck can tow 13,200 pounds. Towing capacity is critical in the full-size pickup market — and a key reason why the best-in-class F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for 42 years.

But Ford might do something unprecedented with towing capacity when its all-electric F-150 debuts in a few years.

How unprecedented? Staggeringly, if a recent demonstration of a prototype all-electric F-150 is any indication.

Ford hitched the pickup to a one-million-pound (roughly 454,000 kg) line of railcars and easily pulled the load for 1,000 feet. In a neat reference to the pickup’s heritage, Ford measured the distance with 42 gas-powered F-150s, symbolizing the four-plus decades of sales dominance.


The F-150’s chief engineer, Linda Zhang. Ford

Instant torque is gonna tow you

“Instant torque combined with a lightweight vehicle helps us deliver a new level of power, performance, and efficiency,” said Linda Zhang, the F-150’s chief engineer, in an interview with Business Insider.

She’s a 23-year Ford veteran who also worked on the new Explorer and Escape SUVs. And she drove the F-150 prototype while it hauled the railcars.

As if a million pounds weren’t impressive enough, Ford then drove those 42 F-150s onto the railcars and towed everything again, another 1,000 feet. The total weight on the second run was 1.25 million pounds (roughly 567,000 kg). The prototype was basically a freight locomotive.


The all-electric F-150 prototype. Ford

“It’s a pretty epic and extreme demonstration,” Zhang said.

It’s unlikely that any future electric F-150 owner would need to pull a train up a mountain. But the demonstration — using an existing F-150 body outfitted with the electric drivetrain that Ford has been developing and is now testing — provided a hint at what the capabilities of the new pickup might be. The market could also get a glimpse when the hybrid-electric F-150 arrives next year.

Focusing on towing rather than speed

At the moment, Ford isn’t divulging any technical details about the electric F-150, but the car maker has obviously zeroed in on a well-established feature of electric drivetrains: instant torque. Electric motors have access to all of their torque as soon as they start cranking, while even Ford’s beefiest F-150 motor has to develop its 470 pound-feet of torque over by building up engine speed.


The electric F-150 towed 42 of its gas-powered brethren. Ford

This contrasts with how electric car makers have usually promoted torque; they tend to emphasize its ability to deliver supercar-beating 0-60 mph times.

Several electric pickups are anticipated in the next few years. Startup Rivian, which got a $500-million investment from Ford in April, hopes to sell a vehicle with F-150-level towing chops for the adventure market. And of course Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that his company’s pickup could combine the F-150’s utility with the performance of a Porsche 911.

“We’re focusing on meeting the needs of customers, giving them what they would expect from built Ford tough.” Zhang said.

Via Business Insider