Range anxiety is the number one complaint by electric vehicle skeptics, despite the range on many EVs being above 300 miles, a number in the ballpark of some gas-fed cars. The number two complaint, that it’s not terribly easy to rescue an EV with an empty battery beyond, well, towing it, is now being addressed by Ford.
How? The 2022 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid and the upcoming 2022 F-150 Lightning EV will be capable of delivering emergency charges to stricken EVs via their Pro Power Onboard power supply and Ford’s Mobile Power Cord charger.
Remember, running out of fuel isn’t something that just happens to EVs. It’s something that’s happened from time to time over the past century in gas-fed vehicles. You’re on the highway and not thinking then suddenly the engine cuts off—out of fuel, you now need to call your roadside assistance service of choice for just enough gas to make it to the closest station.
For those in an EV when this happens, Ford has come up with a great solution: Provide some emergency power using the F-150’s Pro Power Onboard system. Since it comes with either a 9.6- or 7.2-kW output on its 240-volt AC outlet, it’s essentially the basis for a Level 2 charger—one needs only Ford’s Mobile Power Cord that can deliver the appropriate AC charging rate to turn their electrified F-150 into a mobile charger.
What Does That Mean?
If you’re unfamiliar with charging EVs, Level 2 AC charging is the fastest charging rate that comes from a 240 volt outlet, and the best most people can get from their home electrical system. Ford’s Pro Power setup includes the same outlet your washer, welder, or anything that needs double your normal 115-120 volt U.S. outlet can provide. This higher voltage won’t provide the quickest charging out there—that’s where DC quick charging comes in—but it’s the most convenient in both installation and financial cost for home charging. At 16 to 30 amps, which equates to a 3.3 kWh to 7.2 kWh charging rate (amps time volts equals Watts, if you’re unfamiliar with the electrical power conversion calculation, as well), not bad for overnight full charges.
How far that charge rate gets you depends on a number of different items like heat, battery age, state of health, and even its state of charge, among other considerations. According to Ford, plugging a Mustang Mach-E with the extended range battery, rear-drive in via Level 2 charging will net you about 20 miles in one full hour. On Level 2, the F-150 Lightning would get about 13 miles of range in the same hour, and the E-Transit low-roof cargo van would get about 10 miles. Again, depending on conditions, those ranges will vary.
What’s The Catch?
There is one thing to consider and that’s the need for the correct charger port. The Mobile Power Cord isn’t specific to Ford as it uses the common SAE J1772 EV charger connector. It’s the most common connector for EVs next to the CHAdeMO and Tesla connector. It’s possible to use the Mobile Power Cord on vehicles equipped with them, but you’d need an adapter. It also needs a short adapter to fit the NEMA 30 connector on the mobile charger to the NEMA L14-30R connector on the Pro Power 240 volt outlet.
As for being used in a side-of-the-highway situation, it’s potentially not unrealistic to see this used to charge your EV up enough to make it to the next charging station. In about the same time as it would take to change a spare tire on the side of the road (minus the waiting time for the roadside assistant to reach you), you can get around five to 10 miles of charge and make it to the next nearest charging station. Otherwise, it would be quicker to call for a flatbed and tow there if it’s too far beyond that—provided a tow is close by.
So, It’s Just A Gimmick?
No, it’s just that the better use case for the Ford Mobile Power Cord and Pro Power Onboard would be where you’ve lost power overnight and your EV needs an emergency charge to get to your nearest charger with power. (Or, you have a buddy whose EV ran out of juice somehow, and you can help—after all, most pickup owners are familiar with being called on by their extended friend and family groups to help move stuff—now they may be relied on for a quick charge!) Obviously, if you have solar installed on your home, an emergency power generator, or a home battery power storage system, you’ll not really need to use the Ford’s abilities.
Also, no, you’re not going to create a “free energy” device by plugging in your Mobile Power Connect into your Lightning while driving it. Ford has yet to find a way to break the laws of thermodynamics, physics, or what have you. Besides, creating a device that could create more energy that it takes to power itself is essentially a bomb that has a very short timer.
Useful Power For Everything
In any case, it’s a great demonstration of how versatile the Pro Power Onboard system on the F-150 PowerBoost and Lightning are. If you’re not charging an EV, you can use the system to power your home during outages, especially if you have the Lightning with the 9.7 kWh system. According to Ford, that system is capable of powering a home that uses 30 kWh a day for up to three days.
That basically means you own a small, rolling power plant and is potentially another thing to consider when you’re looking at your next F-150. Just realize that you’re probably now powering your entire entertainment system, fridge, A/C, and all of the lights, but you’re keeping comfortable by not freezing to death and/or melting from heat, and making sure your food stays fresh in the fridge and freezer. Just ask Texans how their PowerBoost F-150s worked out last winter when the state suffered debilitating power outages during a deep freeze. However, if you do buy either electrified F-150s with their Pro Power Onboard, just remember to disconnect your mains before using it. Your local electrician will thank you for not frying them while trying to get your power back on.
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