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Electric Ford F-150 Lightning under consideration for Australia


As the re-engineered right-hand drive Ford F-150 full-size truck goes on sale in Australia, will the hybrid, Lightning and Raptor versions follow?

Remanufactured right-hand-drive Ford F-150 trucks may be only weeks away from customer delivery, but in true Aussie fashion, we’re already asking for more.

Can we have a full electric RHD F-150 Lightning? How about a hybrid version? And where the hell’s the Raptor for us? Why does America get all the cool stuff?

The Ford F-150 could be happening for Australia eventually

The message from Ford Australia’s president and CEO Andrew Birkic is: “Let us land the plane on this first,” referencing the huge amount of work and investment already required to get the first tranche of remanufactured RHD F-150 into Australian showrooms.

First customer deliveries of these $106,950 F-150 XLTs and $139,950 F-150 Lariats – both using Ford’s 298kW/678Nm 3.5-litre EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 petrol engine – are due in early November.

But with demand and sales soaring in North America for the full-electric F-150 Lightning, and Australian interest bubbling away, when may we see this electrified brute on our shores?

Ford Australia is definitely looking at the electric-powered version of the F-150

“With Lightning, they’re focusing on that in the US,” Birkic told Australian media. “Are we looking at it? Yes. Is there a confirmed product programme where I’ve rung up Trevor (Negus, of RMA Automotive, which does the RHD remanufacturing) to say I need another (production) line? No.”

While it may not be imminent, Birkic said: “That will come in the fullness of time. We need to do further analysis, and we just need to prove we can do the remanufacturing.”

Making sure the petrol F-150s about to be introduced prove successful and quality meets expectations is the primary focus. “Let’s do that, then we’ll have a yarn about Lightning,” said Birkic.

Why can’t the F-150 RHD conversion be cut and paste?

Chasing Cars had the opportunity to explore the expansive workshop where Ford F-150s are being remanufactured at RMA Automotive north of Melbourne, close to Ford’s former assembly line at Broadmeadows.

RMA is a Thailand-based company, already responsible for modifying over 100,000 vehicles globally.

A stack of Ford F-150s being re-engineered for right-hand drive

And saying ‘remanufacturing’ is not hyperbole. The process is laborious, costly and, from what we saw, deeply impressive in terms of innovation and quality control.

For the F-150’s conversion, there are approximately 500 new or modified parts required. 

That includes the likes of a new cast magnesium RHD cross bar beam, new dash, new electrical harnesses, a modified RHD steering rack (from the Ranger Raptor), new shifter assembly, new brake pedal assembly, new heating and ventilation system, new towbar assembly, modified headlamps and modified seats and door trims. 

Taking on different models would bring extra levels of complexity. There’d be more remanufacturing and testing – all takes time and money. 

There are over 500 new or modified parts used in the new Aussie F-150s

In North America the F-150 can be had as a 320kW/773Nm Full Hybrid V6. You’d suspect this would be next easiest to convert to RHD, with the hard work already done on the F-150 with 3.5-litre V6 petrol. 

Its appeal is a fuel economy figure of approximately 9.8L/100km combined, next to the non-hybrid we’re getting in Australia, which returns 12.5L/100km.

The Raptor with its specialist bespoke aspects would be harder again to remanufacture for RHD Australia, and clearly the all-electric Lightning would be an entirely different animal.

The re-engineering process for the F-150 is a mammoth task

Model year changes present further challenges

Another issue comes with Ford North America updating its F-150 every year, often with significant changes.

It’s been America’s best-selling vehicle for decades, with some 640,000 F-Series trucks finding new homes there in 2022.

Model year changes from the Dearborn, Michigan factory (where our F-150s are initially built) will necessitate changes for Australian versions remanufactured locally. Again, more complexity added.

Workers build the new Australian-delivered Ford F-150

Then there’s testing. The F-150s set for our market endured around 130,000km of local evaluation. Introducing different models would mean further rounds of the same.

“It’s got to be commercially viable, and you’ve got to scale it so it makes it worthwhile,” said Birkic. “Engineering resource is precious, and funds are precious.”

While we are baying for an increased range of F-150s, Ford Australia’s message is it’s focused on keeping it simple for now. But it’s keeping a very open mind about the future.

Ford F-150 2022 Australian testing creek
The Ford F-150 has undergone a lot of evaluation in Australia

“We’ll have conversations with our seniors in the US and in Bangkok (RMA Automotive) about what’s possible,” said Birkic. “Very clearly we need to get this right. That’s our total focus.”

But it’s impossible to ignore appetite for, in particular, the F-150 Lightning. There’s currently no electric full-size pickup on the Australian market.

A right-hand-drive converted example was spotted in Brisbane earlier this month, this 337kW/1050Nm XLT 4×4 grade with 515km electric range apparently a private import and not associated with Ford Australia.