How Ford engineer Linda Zhang brought the electric pickup F-150 Lightning to market

How Ford engineer Linda Zhang brought the electric pickup F-150 Lightning to market 1

Business Insider has published an article about Linda Zhang, an employee of the Ford concern, who led the development team of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck. At that time, F-150 gasoline pickups had been the best-selling cars in America for 45 years in a row, and therefore many in the company were afraid to make radical changes.

When Zhang received her new assignment, she had already worked at Ford for 26 years, starting as an intern and becoming one of the designers. Before she was made head of the F-150 project, she worked in the teams that created the Explorer and Escape crossovers.

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According to Zhang, she immediately faced a negative attitude from both loyal F-150 customers and many of her colleagues. She even quotes the words of one of the engineers “I will help you develop an electric pickup truck, but I will not buy a similar one in my life.” In general, the mood in the team at first was such that you just need to take a gasoline car, and replace the internal combustion engine with an electric motor and this will be enough for the bosses to fall behind. Zhang thought otherwise.

As for customers, they were confused by the small power reserve, as well as the possibility of towing trailers – in America, many use pickups for, for example, towing small yachts or other heavy loads. As a result, Zhang’s team had to solve both problems. So, after talking to a lot of customers, she came to the conclusion that even the cheapest version of the F-150 Lightning should be guaranteed to travel 200 miles (321 kilometers) on a single charge.

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As a result, the production car in the basic version with a full load is capable of driving 230 miles or 370 kilometers at least.

We also had to work to ensure that the possibilities for towing trailers also did not suffer relative to the gasoline version. However, the real find of Zhang’s team was the installation of external outputs for powering the household power grid: for example, for connecting power tools.

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The turning point in relation to the F-150 Lightning in the company was the case when the electricity was turned off at the wedding of one of the skeptical engineers, and the holiday was saved by connecting to the external outlet of the electric pickup.

Recall that the F-150 Lightning launched in the USA very successfully. Even before the start of deliveries, the company collected more than 200 thousand prepaid orders.

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Source: Business Insider