A symbol of the change of mentality in the United States, the lightning bolt of electrical energy combined with the national flag as the logo of the Ford F-150 Lightning
For any car lover, there are emblematic and irreplaceable places. Maranello, Stuttgart and Detroit are probably the most famous and representative, as they are the homes of Ferrari, Mercedes and the big three of the North American industry: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, which today is part of Stellantis after its merger with Fiat ago. 9 years old, in October 2014.
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Although its present is far from its rich industrial history for the automotive world, Detroit is still considered the “Automotive Capital of the World.” There, the Ford T was born, the first mass-produced and mass-market car in the world, and its almost 2 million inhabitants had a direct or indirect relationship with the world of cars.
However, in Michigan a new production and development pole is emerging, or trying to emerge to be more precise, that has electricity and technology as the essential bases of the cars of the future. During the last Detroit Motor Show, an extensive conversation between a group of Argentine journalists with Darren Palmer, Vice President of Ford Model e, the exclusive division for electric mobility of the oval, allows us to discover the reasons for this commitment in a market in which that, if only by tradition, oil engines should be the bastion that everyone defends at all costs.
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But even if everyone agrees that the problem is fossil fuel, there are also sustainable mobility options that maintain internal combustion engines but run on hydrogen or synthetic fuels.
Darren Palmer said that 98% of people who have driven an electric car will not give it up, and that only 5% of those who are against it have ever driven one
However, the choice is electricity, and Palmer, from his position as an expert, is the right person to respond to some controversial questions about this technology. Some are ideas or prejudices without further arguments. Others have a scientific basis but there is an answer to be heard.
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“If we didn’t believe this was the best option, we wouldn’t have invested $12.5 billion in the largest factory I’ve ever seen in Tennessee, (Blue Oval City SK) with three battery plants to produce hundreds of thousands of pickup trucks. electric,” Palmer begins.
The Ford executive does not skimp on enthusiasm, his passion for this technology leads him to take a shortcut and try to make himself understood with an example from everyday life, far from electric cars. “I do this exercise when we have to talk about electric mobility. I usually ask anyone who has ever driven an electric car to raise their hand. And I have proven that less than 5% of people raise their hands. So this is what I learned,” Palmer said.
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“It’s like an iPhone. When they came out, I saw it and said: I know what it is, but I need a keyboard. I know what it is. But then someone said to me, ‘It’s amazing, you should watch it.’ So I walked into a store, picked one out, and played with it for 20 minutes. I went out and checked, I thought I knew, but I didn’t know anything. I bought it and a week later I knew I would never leave it again. It’s the same with electric cars. In the United States people usually have a couple of cars. So it is not for all uses, everywhere and all the time. But they solve it in other ways. However, 98% will never stop having the electric car,” he assured.
“Humans are so resistant to change that all they see are barriers. With the electric car, all kinds of proposals are made to justify their refusal to change. The charger, what happens if it is cold or if it rains, if it can catch fire. All things that you forget after a month of using one.”
Palmer explained that in winter the car’s temperature is adjusted every morning and that it loses less than 5% of autonomy. always talking about Michigan, a city where temperatures usually reach 20 degrees below zero. “And my F-150 Lightning is too big and stays outside. But still, it preheats the battery to 15 or 16C, which brings it into its optimal range, and then preheats the car. So when I go in I hardly use any energy to heat the car and the battery. It’s already optimal. So the whole fear that it won’t work in the cold is a complete myth,” he said.
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The argument continues to move on to other topics less important than autonomy, such as comfort or the sensation you feel when traveling in an electric car.
“It’s faster than most muscle cars ever sold. It’s faster than most Shelbys ever were. But it is also completely silent. I accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h and it’s all silence,” Palmer said.
Batteries are constantly improving. Ford ensures a 10-year warranty even if fast superchargers are always used
Battery life is another topic that is always discussed. Not for nothing, manufacturers suggest charging between 20% and 80%. Here Klauss Mello enters the conversation, a Brazilian engineer who has worked on the development of the Ford F-150 Lightning and resides in Dearborn as he works at the Ford Motor Company headquarters.
“We guarantee a 10-year battery warranty, and this means that users can charge them with all types of chargers: domestic, higher-power public chargers, and superchargers. Charging the batteries with high power does not harm the lifespan. On the other hand, we do make the recommendation to take them up to 80% and not 100 percent. The maximum charging capacity is recommended only for travel, but battery technology changes and evolution is permanent. Always charging at high-speed stations is no longer a problem,” he said when asked by Infobae.
Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Company, has been the driving force behind the brand’s two electric projects: Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning
The answer remained latent as to why not make cars with thermal engines and propel them with e-fuels.
“The high cost will change over time, but a car with a thermal engine will require maintenance, makes noise, emits gases and is inefficient. I like noise too. I have a Mustang R, an amazing, very analog car that I shift manual with. But it’s slow. It just feels slow after driving my F-150 Lightning,” she commented with a laugh.
“I do not give up comfort, efficiency, speed, silence, not having to go to the workshop and service stations. I’m not going to give up all that for 15 or 20 minutes that I have to stop every time I take a long trip. “It’s ridiculous,” the Ford executive concluded.