Texans are truck lovers. And a great many Texans would have loved to have a Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup in the garage this past February, when households faced several days of power outages partly due to a winter storm.  

That outage likely prompted much envy (and sales) for Tesla, which hawks its Powerwalls as auxiliary power for the home. But when the 2022 F-150 Lightning arrives next year, it will boast a killer app that’s better—and more cost-effective—than any Powerwall. 

The Lightning will be one of the first electric vehicles to take advantage of bi-directional charging in the U.S. market, in a form Americans will appreciate. It will give them just a bit more energy independence, and with a solar option, it could help get them “off the grid” some of the time. 

This energy independence will require a little added equipment, and perhaps a consultation by your electrician, but it won’t require buying your own wall of batteries. You’ll use what’s in the truck. 

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

If you opt for the bi-directional 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro, plus a home management system and an inverter needed to connect to your home, the F-150 Lightning will be able to output 9.6 kw of power through an Intelligent Backup Power function—enough to power the lights and appliances for days. 

Smart power—other batteries not required

This is way more than the generous power ports already featured in the Lightning's frunk, cab, and bed. With the system, you keep the truck plugged in at its charge port and, if the power goes out the F-150 Lightning will automatically switch modes, effectively becoming a power brick for the home—enough for full home power for about three days, or partial power for up to ten days. 

The system will also be put to use in the future with a Ford Intelligent Power feature that automatically allows home power to come from the truck during peak times and charges the truck when energy is cheap.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

So far, no automaker is offering this level of bi-directional charging and backup-power convenience from an EV in the U.S. market. Not even Tesla, which offers it from battery-packed Powerwalls costing many thousands but not from its cars. 

Nissan has offered such functionality for the Leaf in some other global markets, but it has balked at offering it in the U.S. in the past, pointing to what it expects would be a low adoption rate. 

The functions reflect a level of confidence in the F-150 Lightning’s SK Innovation battery cells, which wouldn’t be covering miles but would be charged and discharged. 

Getting F-150 truck guys in on energy independence

To get this functionality delivered and installed without fuss, Ford is planning to offer a zero-down Sunrun solar package that includes rooftop solar as well as the inverter. Sunrun, as Ford’s home partner, would install the inverter at a discounted price even if the homeowner opts not to get solar. 

“No one has offered this before at volume,” said Ford global EV product development director Darren Palmer, who confessed that he was genuinely surprised by how many potential customers—including those in Texas—responded positively to this idea, especially from an energy independence standpoint, when it was tested. 

“I guess in hindsight we should have known, but it really resonates,” he said with enthusiasm. “Would you like to be fully independent...to be able to handle this in all situations for X amount of money?”

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Palmer hinted that the pricing of the system will be “really competitive,” and would cost considerably less than a Tesla Powerwall and its installation, while providing the functionality of many Powerwalls given the battery capacity of the Lightning. 

As such, he’s anticipating that many buyers of the upper-trim F-150 Lightning models will opt for the system. 

Power bank on wheels: the Lightning's killer app

Palmer suggested that the feature fits right in with one of Ford's core strategy requirements for electrifying its icons: The electric versions need to do things that the gasoline versions never had. With the Intelligent Backup Power system, all-electric is the enabler for something you won't find on a gas or hybrid F-150.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

The company says that the customers for the Lightning have some of the same priorities as those for the gasoline F-150. They want to provide for their families and help others. 

And that way of providing will take on a new dimension with a vehicle that will help keep your family comfortable and safe—and, perhaps, save a freezer full of steak. If it’s Texas, after all.