Ford May Be Working on a Game-Changing New F-150 Lightning Feature

Adding this option could help win over the skeptics.

ford f150 lightning

Ford brought the all-new F-150 Lightning electric pickup to market this year. America's most popular vehicle going electric is a landmark moment. It can potentially be a watershed moment if Ford can increase production to meet demand; who wouldn't be intrigued by an F-150 that can run on solar energy with record-high gas prices?

Despite the plaudits, Ford isn't finished developing the F-150 Lightning. And recent spy shots suggest Ford may be working on an idea that could win over a lot of electric truck skeptics. The pictures show what looks like a toolbox in the bed sitting right against the back of the cab. And there's a good chance that Ford is doing more than testing a new toolbox accessory.

Ford was granted a patent in 2020 for a removable generator to extend the range of electric vehicles. The generator would clip into a cargo area on the vehicle, such as a truck bed. From there it could either charge the vehicle's battery pack or directly power the vehicle's drive motors.

Range won't be an issue for many F-150 Lightning buyers — who aren't using the pickup for heavy-duty applications. The extended range offers up to 320 miles. If you're charging to 80% that's still 256 miles, substantially more than most owners would drive in a day.

A large number of truck owners tow, however. And while the F-150 Lightning does have a formidable 10,000-pound towing capacity, towing does significantly lower the truck's range. If your campsite or vacation home is hundreds of miles away, the F-150 Lightning's limited towing range could require multiple lengthy charging stops and become a nuisance. Towing range is the reason Ram's electric truck will be offered with a gasoline range extender.

Clipping on an extra battery pack is cruder than packaging extra battery capacity within the vehicle. Though that method would also make adding the extra capacity a lot cheaper. And its removability would still give you full functionality for the bed when not towing.

Not everything Ford patents makes it to production. We don't know whether a range extender is what Ford is testing, when it would arrive if Ford is working on it or whether it would add enough range to be worthwhile. But a well-executed range extender would be a great idea if that is what Ford is doing.


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