Ford F-150 Lightning EVs deployed in US National Forests for new pilot program

After unveiling its fully electric F-150 Lightning, Ford’s EV pickup is establishing itself as a true competitor in the truck market. The electric truck is now making a historic debut as the US Forest Service (USFS) begins transitioning its fleet of around 17,000 gas-powered cars to zero-emission EVs.

Ford unveiled the electric version of its best-selling pickup, the F-150 Lightning, in 2021. After an overwhelmingly positive response, Ford quickly accumulated over 200,000 reservations (three years of backlog) by December 2021.

Eager buyers began receiving their F-150 Lightning pickups in May after Ford started production in April 2022.

Through November, Ford has sold 13,258 F-150 Lightning EVs, remaining the top-selling electric truck in America as the automaker ramps production.

Meanwhile, to advance the transition to a clean energy economy and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, the US has implemented Executive Order 14057 (Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability), which requires all federal light-duty vehicle purchases to be electric by 2027.

The US Forest Service is taking its first steps to transition its fleet of over 17,000 vehicles to all-electric, starting with three Ford F-150 Lightning trucks.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning/Source: Ford

US Forest Service introduces Ford Lightning EVs to its fleet

Since USFS vehicles are tasked with frequent off-roading and extreme weather conditions, the agency is testing the Ford Lightning trucks to develop best practices.

According to Outside, Jason Kirchner, a spokesperson from the agency, said:

The Forest Service is embarking on an exciting study of the first-ever use of electric vehicles in a natural resources field setting. The research will determine the feasibility of electric vehicles in field-work settings, helping the agency determine the right tool for the job when it comes to electric fleet vehicles.

The EV pilot program will help the USFS create a base of knowledge regarding optimal fleet size and charging infrastructure. Outside says since the vehicles will be tested in extreme conditions (in the White Mountains), the study will “hold applicability to outdoor enthusiasts” in addition.

According to Kirchner, the Ford F-150 lightning is currently the only electric pickup available so far through the Government Services Administration. The US Forests Service is using the base model featuring:

  • 230-mile range
  • Four-wheel drive
  • 2,000 lb. payload

The agency says that since the Lightning will be recharged at night, it will not require significant charging investments. In fact, the Ford Lightning fleet model is cheaper than the entry-level gas-powered consumer F-150.

Electrek’s Take

Ford did its own testing in extreme weather conditions to develop best practices for Lightning drivers. The electric pickup is paving the way for government agencies, businesses, and consumers to go zero-emission while still enjoying the same benefits as its gas-powered peers and more.

Deploying EVs in our national forests is one of the best places to start transitioning the government fleet.

Ford’s electric pickup is not the only EV truck to be used in a forest setting. In October, Electrek reported four Rivian’s R1T models were operating in the Chyulu hills of Kenya, carrying out “vital conservation work in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way possible, including quiet anti-poaching patrols, zero tailpipe-emissions transport for Maasai firefighters, and critical on-and off-road rangers’ operations.” You can read more about the story here.

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Avatar for Peter Johnson Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is covering the auto industry’s step-by-step transformation to electric vehicles. He is an experienced investor, financial writer, and EV enthusiast. His enthusiasm for electric vehicles, primarily Tesla, is a significant reason he pursued a career in investments. If he isn’t telling you about his latest 10K findings, you can find him enjoying the outdoors or exercising