Until now, Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lightning lineup has largely mirrored the trim offerings available with the gas-powered pickup — but it’s rolling out “a new tech-forward model,” dubbed the Lightning Flash, targeting what the automaker thinks will be the “sweet spot” for the technology-minded buyers who make up much of today’s EV market.
The 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash will come with a newly updated version of the automaker’s hands-free BlueCruise system, a larger touchscreen, an upgraded audio system, and a range of 320 miles per charge. It also switches to a new heat pump system that should reduce the normal range losses EV drivers experience in cold weather.
“Learning from customers”
The new Flash model “is a direct outcome of engaging with and learning from our customers,” said Marin Gjaja, the chief operating officer for the automaker’s EV unit, Model e. “This truck combines many of the technology-forward features our customers love in our EV lineup, at a more accessible price.”
At a starting price of $72,090 — an MSRP of $69,995 plus delivery fees — Lightning Flash falls in line with what Ford had been charging for both the Extended range XLT and short-range Lariat trim packages for 2023 after $9,000 in price cuts announced in July. The 2024 version of the Lariat comes only with the long-range battery and starts at $77,495 before delivery fees. The XLT, meanwhile, will be offered solely with a standard-range battery.
The most high-tech bit of news with Lightning Flash is the introduction of BlueCruise version 1.2. The system — which allows hands-free operations on 130,000 miles of U.S. and Canadian roads — gets a significant update.
Mirroring what GM has done with its similar Super Cruise, Ford’s update “allow(s) the driver to change lanes hands-free by tapping the turn signal once the path is clear.” A statement from the automaker also noted Blue Cruise 1.2 gets “In-Lane Repositioning to help to keep the vehicle in its lane while subtly shifting position away from vehicles in adjacent lanes.”
A Ford spokesman could not confirm when Version 1.2 will roll out for existing versions of Lightning. Earlier this year, Ford Vice President Darren Palmer told Headlight.News on several occasions the hope is to get that upgrade ready before the end of 2023.
It should be noted that while the new edition comes with the necessary hardware and software, customers must then activate the system. They can start out with a complementary 90-day trial. Beyond that, to keep BlueCruise operational they’ll have to pay, with several options available.
In cabin tech upgrades
The 2024 F-150 Lightning Flash now gets a 15.5-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen, as well as a digital gauge cluster. It’s the biggest touchscreen available for the truck and handles a range of infotainment duties.
Ford has tweaked its functionality since the electric pickup was first introduced, also responding to complaints about usability. Rather than trying to use digital sliders to control the seat heaters, for example, the level of warmth can be adjusted by tapping an icon and then rotating the physical knob normally used for volume control.
Flash comes with a wireless charging pad and a B&O sound system featuring eight speakers and a subwoofer, as well as HD radio and an initial trial version of Sirius/XM satellite radio. There’s a keypad for keyless entry on the driver’s side door, and the Ford app can be used to operate the vehicle, as well as keeping remote tabs on things like the state of its battery charge. It can also be used to remotely start the truck or program in automatic daily starts which allow the cabin to be pre-heated or cooled while connected to a charger.
Heat pump to help range
One of the more significant changes made to the 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning Flash comes with the adoption of a heat pump rather than the older technology used in the original truck. Much like heat pumps used for homes, it’s designed to reduce energy demands, a particularly useful feature when you’re driving an electric vehicle.
Ford hasn’t said how much the heat pump will improve things but the general rule of thumb is that EVs using older climate control technology generally lose as much as 40% of their range at temperatures dropping to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Among other things, the 2024 Lightning Flash will come standard with Ford’s Towing Technology Package which makes it notably easier to do things like putting a boat into the water or backing a trailer into its parking space.
Ford didn’t say precisely when the Flash will reach U.S. dealers, indicating only that it will arrive sometime next year.