Ford CEO Jim Farley Test Drives an F-150 Lightning and Sees a Problem

"It was a really good reality check of what challenges our customers are going through," Jim Farley said after test driving an F-150 Lightning.

Ford CEO Jim Farley
Jim Farley poses with an F-150 Lightning truck at its reveal at Ford World Headquarters on May 19, 2021 in Dearborn, Michigan. Getty Images

Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, recently went on a road trip in an F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the automaker’s popular F-150 pickup truck. During the test drive, Farley experienced firsthand the challenges of driving an electric truck, especially when its battery runs low, and he’s not coy about it.

Earlier this month, Farley and a few Ford employees embarked on a 620-mile trip from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas through Los Angeles along U.S. Route 66. The F-150 Lightning has a driving range between 230 miles and 320 miles, depending on the version, so he had to recharge the truck a few times on the way. When Farley stopped at a popular charging station in Coalinga, Calif., about 200 miles south of San Francisco, he hooked his truck up to a low-speed charger for 40 minutes and found that it only juiced the vehicle’s battery up to 40 percent.

“Charging has been pretty challenging,” Farley said in a video he posted on X and LinkedIn over the weekend. “It was a really good reality check of what challenges our customers are going through and the importance of fast charging.”

In May, Ford became one of the first carmakers to ink a deal with Tesla (TSLA) to give its EV customers access to Tesla’s network of more than 12,000 Superchargers in North America. A Tesla Supercharger can boost a vehicle’s battery to 80 percent in less than 20 minutes, while a regular EV charger, like the one Farly used in Coalinga, may take a few hours. Long charging time and range anxiety, or fear that a car runs out of power before reaching its destination or a charging station, are among the top reasons Americans are still slow to adopt EVs. Currently, fast chargers are sporadic, and Tesla’s charging network—albeit the largest in the country—requires a special plug and is incompatible with non-Tesla vehicles. Under its partnership with Tesla, Ford will provide its EV customers with an adaptor to use Tesla Superchargers and begin installing Tesla-standard charging ports in its EVs in 2025.

The partnership “will help us improve the EV experience for our customers,” Farley wrote in a tweet on August 13.

At least seven other carmakers, including General Motors, Volvo and Nissan, have signed similar deals with Tesla, hoping access to a larger charging network will boost their EV sales. Ford has billed the F-150 Lightning as an all-purpose vehicle that’s not only gas-free but can serve as a power source on the go for off-the-grid situations like a family camping trip or a power outage.

“Long hauling in an electric truck is an act of pioneerism, not because it’s hard or dangerous, but because it’s a new way to experience America,” Farley wrote in a LinkedIn post on August 7 before his road trip. “Shifting from fueling stations to charging stations requires new behaviors and opens new possibilities.”

Ford CEO Jim Farley Test Drives an F-150 Lightning and Sees a Problem