Ford engineers took the upcoming F-150 Lightning electric pickup for a two week trial in Alaska, testing the limits of the new truck in winter conditions.

Engineers drove a fleet of six F-150 Lightning pre-production vehicles on a variety of wintery surfaces, like loose and packed snow, full and complete ice, and more. Temperatures, according to Ford, were down to minus-30 degrees fahrenheit. 

This type of testing is formally referred to as “low-mu” testing, which evaluates a vehicle’s capabilities to deliver power on low-traction surfaces; specifically, Ford wanted to see how the Lightning’s all-electric powertrain could put power down to the wintry ground below. During their 12-hour test days, engineers were able to adjust the vehicle’s calibration in real-time in order to maximize efficiency.

According to engineers, the F-150 Lightning is capable of detecting wheelslip within milliseconds. Once determined, the vehicle utilizes its all-wheel drive system to adjust power accordingly. It’s said that these systems in particular benefit from the quick responses of an all-electric powertrain.

“F-150 Lightning in the snow is a very different ballgame compared to gas vehicles,” said Nick Harris, F-150 Lightning powertrain engineer. “The responses are extremely quick and the dual motors make it as if you have two engines pumping out power in one vehicle. A lot of our work is to coordinate the two motors to work together to best deliver torque to the ground, so that customers who drive in the snow and ice ultimately feel very confident.”

The F-150 Lightning comes standard with forward and aft dual motor setups and "always-on 4x4" drive. A standard electronic-locking rear differential and selectable drive modes allow drivers to better tailor their Lightning to the scenario at hand. With regards to vehicle design, the Lightning is built with a lower center of gravity when compared to a traditional F-150 which, according to Ford, allows for more confident handling.

Customer deliveries of the 2022 F-150 Lightning are still expected for this spring, and we’ll have plenty more on it soon on MotorWeek!