$106,000 electric pickup turns heads
The trunk is where an engine would be
RENFREW — Crop farmer Bob Stuart quips that he only had to wait 83 years to buy his first electric pickup truck.
Stuart, 83, purchased his Ford F-150 Lightning in January. The $106,000 price tag didn’t faze him, given the milestone that the truck represents. Not only is it the farm’s first electric vehicle, it’s the first spanking new pickup truck of any kind to arrive at the operation in 70 years. He recalls that his father was the last Stuart to roll a factory new Ford pickup truck off a dealer lot in 1953, at a cost then of about $1,400.
While the F-150 is not eligible for a $10,000 federal government grant, heavier trucks are. But there are no heavier pickup trucks yet on the market.
Long retired, the old truck is still stashed away at the back of a barn. It’s a far cry from the huge, four-door aluminum-bodied fully electric Ford that Stuart and his wife enjoy today. The interior is decidedly more upscale and luxurious than its ancestor. Just the flat-panel screen built into the dash is light-years ahead of any 1950s living-room television.
He says they can travel to the other side of Ottawa and back from their Renfrew-area home and still have 160 km of charge left in the Lightning’s battery. His wife recently took the truck on a 200 km round trip to Barry’s Bay without issue. In that sense, he says, it’s great for running errands as a typical farm “gopher” vehicle. “I charge it up on the farm,” he adds. Because the farm lacks a fast charger, he simply plugs the truck into a regular 110 V outlet overnight to ensure a ‘full tank’ by morning.
While the Stuarts still own a conventional gasoline-powered Dodge Durango, they haven’t put gas in its tank since January.
The Lighting has also been pressed into service as a giant roving battery on the farm. Earlier this spring, Stuart’s son used the truck’s AC outlet to power a vacuum cleaner as he cleaned out a corn planter beside a field — no generator required.
Stuart estimates that, at current electricity prices, the Lightning costs between $3.5 and $4 per 100 km to operate. That’s based on using 22 to 25 kilowatt hours of electricity to cover those 100 km, at a cost of 16 cents per kWh. By contrast, a small conventional car uses about $9 worth of gasoline (or 6 litres), at current pump prices, to go the same distance.
The technically proficient Stuart, who once built his own airplane from schematic drawings, marvels at the relatively small amount of energy stored in the vehicle’s battery. It’s the equivalent of about 13 litres of gasoline, and yet that’s enough to power the truck over a reported range of 370 km per charge.
Beyond the numbers, the truck is a head turner. Stuart says his wife came out of the supermarket and proceeded to place groceries in the ‘frunk’ — where the engine would otherwise be. “She punched the button on her key fob, and up went the hood. The lad three cars over blurted out, ‘What the hell?”
Stuart laughs. “It’s a conversation piece.”