February 22, 2024

Ford F-150 Lightning Switchgear is a swift, silent Raptor alternative


The heat is on the F-150 Raptor again, but this time it’s not from rivals Ram or Chevrolet – it’s from Ford itself.

Meet the Ford F-150 Lightning Switchgear, a heavily modified all-electric F-150 Lightning developed by Ford Performance and RTR Vehicles.

Inspired by RTR’s 2016 F-150 Ultimate Fun-Haver, the Switchgear “provides a playground for engineers to advance learnings quickly for future electric vehicles”.

Underneath, not much has been left unchanged. Fox 3-inch diameter internal bypass shock absorbers replace the stock units to add Raptor capability.

Limit straps have even been added to the coil-over shock absorbers to prevent suspension and driveshaft damage as the vehicle showcases its jumping capability.

Improved stability, ground clearance and suspension travel comes courtesy of custom independent double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension with unique control arms.

All this results in the Switchgear having wider track widths and enough clearance to fit 37-inch NITTO Ridge Grappler tyres underneath carbon composite fenders.

Additional exterior modifications include carbon composite tub sides, plus a rear bumper cover made from the same material.

A new steel front bumper, skid plate and rock sliders improve the approach angle, while a custom tyre mounting rack sits in the tub. The aesthetic package is topped off with a roof-mounted spoiler and Ford Performance livery.

While this endeavour may hint at Ford developing a Lightning Raptor, the company has previously indicated this is off the table.

Speaking to Motor Authority in November 2022, Ford Performance chief engineer Carl Widmann said neither hybrid nor all-electric powertrains are on the cards for the Ford F-150 Raptor family.

He notes an internal-combustion engine is “the best tech to operate at full power in deep sand, bar none”.

The extra weight of the batteries means Ford won’t do an electric Raptor, while a hybrid has been ruled out for not only the additional weight but also the lack of a benefit to customers.

Locally, Ford Australia launched the locally remanufactured F-150 late last year, and is testing the waters with XLT and Lariat variants before it considers expanding the program to other variants.

That means no Raptor, hybrid, or Lightning versions, at least not yet, though a left-hand drive engineering and evaluation version of the latter was spied in Melbourne late last year.

“Ford’s Australian Product Development team work on a wide variety of global vehicle programs, including many left-hand drive only vehicles for overseas markets,” said a Ford Australia spokesperson last year when asked about the Lightning prototype.

The F-150 Lightning Switchgear becomes the latest wild electric vehicle (EV) to join Ford’s line-up of concept vehicles designed to push the limits of what EVs can do.

Other EV demonstrators include the SuperVan 4.0 and 4.2, F-100 Eluminator, Mustang Mach-E 1400 and the Mustang CobraJet 1400.

MORE: Everything Ford F-150





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