Ford Says Electrified Raptor Won't Be Happening
Ford Performance has confirmed that the Raptor won’t be electrified, with its chief engineer explaining the reasons why in the most direct manner possible. The resulting automobile would be less fun to drive and too heavy to take onto certain terrains. Deep sand would be particularly objectionable, as hulking vehicles that aren’t using tank treads have a tendency to sink into loose surfaces.
If you’re thinking about a career that involves writing about cars, this is why you talk to engineers. Someone working in the media department will feel compelled to give you an overly complicated and non-committal answer on an issue they only vaguely understand. But an engineer will typically give you the straight scoop if they haven't been coached not to.
That seems to be the case with Carl Widmann, head engineer for Ford Performance. In an interview with Motor Authority, he poured cold water on the premise of an electrified Raptor pickup (something that’s been rumored for a while) by suggesting that it would probably suck to drive due to the physics involved.
Heft is important when considering an off-roader.
The all-electric Ford Lightning weighs a minimum of 1,500 pounds more than a similarly equipped gasoline-powered F-Series pickup. Due to the extra hardware that goes into making Raptor models more capable off-road, an electrified version would undoubtedly be quite heavy. The hypothetical Ford might not oink in at the incredible 9,000+ pounds the GMC Hummer EV happens to be. But we’re still talking about an ORV that would easily crest 7,000 pounds if the Blue Oval ever decided to build it.
Widmann is hip to this and said his team even tested the heavy Hummer to see how it felt. "They are good for a shot, but not something you would run at Baja,” he chuckled.
On particularly loose surfaces, lightweight vehicles may be able to skim over the top and maintain their momentum. Heavier rides will be prone to sinking and churning up the ground below. It’s basically the same reason you’ve noticed roads getting worse, just on a slower timeline while ignoring how poorly infrastructure projects are being managed. Vehicles have been getting heavier for years and heavier cars are always going to be tougher on the tarmac, sand, snow, mud, or whatever else you put beneath the wheels.
"What is the benefit as it comes to weight?” Widmann asked, adding that any form of electrification (including hybridization) would equate to something that was less agile and thereby less fun to toss around.
According to the engineer, the combustion engine internal-combustion engine is "the best tech to operate at full power in deep sand, bar none."
"The truck brings that engine to life. You can do things so rapidly," he said of the Raptor R's supercharged V8, noting how easy it was to flick off traction control whenever you just wanted to goof off in the dirt. This is also true for the less powerful V6 option.
That said, it still feels like Ford would still try to market an off-road EV if the Lightning sees sustained attention. The Hummer is already proof that automakers are willing to do something utterly ridiculous if leadership thinks there's a market for it.
[Image: Ford Motor Co.]
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