How the Ford F-150 Lightning electric vehicle (EV) software accurately estimates range to give customers confidence when towing

The new Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup, the zero emissions version of America’s best selling vehicle, has the ability to tow up to 10,000 pounds with its 775 lb.-ft. of electric torque. Naturally, this will affect the range but the truck’s brain offers customers accurate range information they need to tow long distances with confidence. 

Ford uses its exclusive technologies: Intelligent Range and FordPass Power My Trip plus Onboard Scales to perform this. Together they work seamlessly to give F-150 Lightning customers more accurate vehicle range estimates based on actual towing experiences and real-time energy use, while Trailer Profile remembers their trailer specifics so the system can associate energy use for each trailer used.

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Linda Zhang, Ford chief engineer for the F-150 Lightning, said: “We know many F-150 Lightning customers will be first-time electric vehicle owners who expect that familiar Built Ford Tough capability along with robust towing.

“That’s why we created smart technologies to help take the worry out of towing long distances by giving customers more reliable and accurate range calculations, and then automatically locate charge points along the way, if needed.”

Intelligent Range provides the magic that enables confident towing experiences with F-150 Lightning by collecting vehicle data to determine how much electrical energy drivers are using in real time. This includes traffic speed, ambient temperature, available battery energy, plus driver habits, climate control use and route topography. 

The system also uses cloud computing to gauge energy use from other similar types of Ford electric vehicles operating in similar situations, resulting in more accurate vehicle range calculations over time.

With F-150 Lightning, Intelligent Range can also sample similar towing and energy use situations to further refine range calculations in real time. This happens automatically through available Ford Onboard Scales, which communicate with Intelligent Range. 

As range data improves and the system becomes more robust, the system can be further refined via Ford Power-Up over-the-air software updates.

Zhang added: “Whether you’re towing with a gas-powered or electric truck, range degradation as a percentage is basically the same – determined primarily by overall cargo and trailer weight at low speeds and by the aerodynamic profile at higher speeds.

“That’s why we expanded the capabilities of Intelligent Range on the F-150 Lightning with the available Onboard scales to also measure the load effects of trailers and cargo to further refine range calculations when towing.”

Power My Trip brings a more confident electric towing experience to life using an online mapping system where drivers can plan out their trips. Customers simply input their trailer information into Trailer Profile. 

Then they enter their destination into the navigation system or on their smartphone via the FordPass app. Power My Trip automatically maps their towing route using Intelligent Range and provides charge points along the way, if needed.

Should an F-150 Lightning customer need to stop for a charge along the way, they can access the Ford BlueOval Charge Network, the nation’s largest public charging network with more than 20,500 charge locations and 70,000+ plugs across North America. 

This includes more than 7,300 DC fast chargers, some that can deliver up to 150 kW of energy, giving an extended range F-150 Lightning from 15 to 80 percent of additional estimated battery range in 41 minutes when using the 150 kW Electrify America chargers.

Every F-150 Lightning customer will get a Ford Mobile Power cord charger, which gives them 120- or 240-volt AC charging with easy, portable charge connectivity wherever they go. 

Extended range F-150 Lightning customers will also receive an 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro, which they can install at home or work. Standard range customers can purchase the Ford Charge Station Pro for $1,310 plus tax.

Zhang concluded:  “By giving customers the most accurate range assessments possible and the charge tools they need to tow reliably, we believe they’ll move past the myths about towing with an electric truck and embrace the value-added benefits F-150 Lightning provides.

“As they get accustomed to how Intelligent Range and Power My Trip work, they’ll naturally adjust their routines – whether that’s stopping for lunch and a DC fast charge or finding a route that simplifies their drive.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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