Two journalists with TFLEV decided to drive the Ford 150 Lightning EV truck from the lower 48 states to Alaska and learned some of the recharging challenges they would face.
Having made that drive from Pennsylvania to Fairbanks in 2013, I can tell you it certainly required some planning driving a gas-powered SUV, much less an electric truck.
The towns and gas stations once you get north of Whistler, British Columbia, become more and more sparse and when you hit the Yukon Territory, there’s Whitehorse — a nice little city — and not much else to the Alaska border.
Things may have changed in the last nine years, but you really had to be careful about filling up your gas tank when you had the chance.
Making the trip in an EV truck takes a lot more planning.
Tom and Andre with TFLEV realized finding charging stations along the way would be spotty, so they wanted to see how long it would take to charge their F-150 at a campground.
They stopped at Carter Lake, outside of Loveland, Colorado, and rented a campsite. The site included a standard 120-volt outlet — Level 1 in EV parlance — as well as a larger 240-volt option used by recreational vehicles and fifth-wheel trailers to run air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.
What Tom and Andre found when they hooked into a standard 120 outlet, it would take them from Wednesday night until Monday morning — about 5 days — to get the truck fully charged, with their battery starting at 22 percent.
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The pair then plugged into the 240 volt — Level 2. The result was much better, but it was still going to take about 14 hours to get to a full charge.
The standard range on an F-150 Lightning is 240 miles and depending on the terrain, the truck load and other factors, can be significantly less.
So finding a fast charging station or a Level 2 option is really the only realistic way to make a trip of any distance beyond the initial charge much less to Alaska.
Tom and Andre noted there is potentially an ethical dilemma to charging one’s EV truck at a campground.
“You have a big battery, a big vehicle and if every spot had an electric vehicle all drawing energy that the price of energy would go up,” Andre pointed out.
The price of the camping space was only $35.
In other words, the EV charging person is benefitting from most people using far less electricity while they camp.
The gas-powered folks are in effect subsidizing the EV campers.
By comparison, charging the vehicle at home would be about $35.
The F-150 Lightning also has an issue when it comes to towing: the range gets cut significantly. Likely all EVs have this problem.
Automobile commentator Tyler “Hoovie” Hoover drove his F-150 Lightning 32 miles with an empty trailer. He then loaded up a 1930 Ford Model A and drove it back.
Upon simply hitching up the empty aluminum trailer and driving roughly one-quarter mile out of his neighborhood, the EV had already used up 3 miles of range.
By the time Hoover traversed the first 32 miles, the Ford had lost 68 miles of range. As you might imagine, once he loaded up the Model A truck, the battery’s juice really dived.
Despite having the EV charged for 200 miles of range at the start of the 64-mile trip, by the time he returned with his Model A truck in tow, only 50 miles of range remained.
“Are you kidding me? That’s almost 90 miles of range in 30 miles. Are you serious,” Hoover reacted.
“That’s nuts. What a joke,” Hoover added as he laughed.
Well, EVs are clearly a newish technology and no doubt things will continue to improve.
Perhaps solar panels will be integrated into them one day to allow at least partial charging while the driver is out and about.
But for now, EVs definitely have their limitations.
I would not want to drive one to Alaska!