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Electric Ford F-150

Of all the vehicles shown at SEMA 2008, PML Flightlink’s electric Ford F-150 sits proudly at the top of the hill when it comes to pure innovation. Don’t look for an engine under this F-150’s hood … the means of propulsion has been put out to the wheels, with PML Flightlink’s HI-PA Drive electric wheel motors (clad in shiny green metallic paint) nestled behind each of the conventional rims. This is four wheel drive (4WD) in its purest sense: four wheels, four permanent magnet brushless motors.

The 4WD PML Flightlink F-150 has a range of approximately 100 miles. A 40 kilowatt hour Lithium ion battery, weighing roughly 1000 pounds, is slung between the frame rails. While typical charge time is six-to-eight hours with the 110-volt charger, a fast three-phase charge can be completed in under an hour.

The plans are to turn the test vehicle into a series hybrid by dropping a small engine/generator under the hood, in order to reduce the size of the battery pack and extend range.

PML Flightlink was invited to display the truck in Ford’s SEMA booth as a technology demonstration. While there are no officially-disclosed plans to produce an electric F-150 … we have to think, what is Ford waiting for? By the time that Christmas rolls around, Mini is slated to produce 500 Mini E full electrics destined to prowl American streets. (Although PML Flightlink has famously fitted their motors to a Mini Cooper test unit, their technology is not in the Mini E, from what we’ve heard at this point.)

If Ford fails to produce an electric F-150 soon, they run the risk of the aftermarket seizing the opportunity. With truck prices depressed, an entrepreneurial firm could snap up hundreds of unsold F-150s on the cheap and on the sly. These units could be stripped and retrofitted, with the pulled drive trains resold for operating revenue. Fleet managers looking for a pure electric solution would then have a clear choice.

Fleet sales are the fastest way to make it happen, whether it’s Ford, GM, or Chrysler that first decides to grab the ring. Our electric utilities need to step up to the plate to issue a mandate to the Big Three, by putting out massive RFPs for electric pickup fleets.

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12 comments ↓

#1 Ronald Stier on 11.21.08 at 10:44 am

Here is my question , why won’t PML put a price list or sell their wheel motors to private individuals ? This is like the biggest tease in the universe . If I had rough idea of what this might cost , I might consider doing it to my 4wd F150 .

#2 mpg-o-editor on 11.21.08 at 3:25 pm

@Ronald – From what I’ve been able to gather, the electric motor manufacturers just don’t have the resources to sell single motors (or in the case of PML’s wheel motors, sets of motors) to individuals. Resources are tight and the companies are focused on developing the technology, with the hopes of having the motors enter mass production.

For the enthusiast, one solution to this might be to have an intermediary company place an order (and the bet) on a significant number of motors, with the goal of making complete kits available to the general public.

It’s my hope that we’ll begin to see opportunities like these present themselves in the coming months. As I walked the SEMA show floors a few weeks back, I thought how it seemed odd that there was a huge disconnect between what needs to be done and what’s currently available. The parts are out there. They just need to be integrated and marketed.

With luck, I’ll find some answers at the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s (EDTA) Powering Sustainable Transportation Conference the first week of December …

#3 Aspen Electric Motors on 12.06.08 at 9:28 pm

We Electrocute Porsches and we have been experimenting with hub electric motors as well, and would like to do some R&D / testing with PML motors to see how they measure up. Seems like it would work better in a 911 then a Pickup truck. If anyone out there has something better than PML please feel free to get in touch with us. We are focused on the latest, greatest, state of the art parts.
Yesterday’s Porsches w/ Tomorrow’s EV Technology Today.
http://www.AspenElectricMotors.com
Ciao

#4 Paul S. on 12.28.08 at 5:54 pm

They should give up on the hybrid project and stick to pure electric. Use all that extra space under the hood for batteries. Sure its expensive, but batteries are getting better all the time. Focus on perfecting the in-wheel motors and software. Also, make this compatible with electricity generated from a hydrogen/fuel-cell setup should that progress in the next few years.

Ford & GM are morons for not having done this years ago – designed in from the beginning.

#5 mpg-o-editor on 12.29.08 at 7:34 am

@Paul Unfortunately, pure electric is only practical for limited range vehicles at present.

High battery costs and long charging times hinder acceptance. A range-extended serial hybrid setup can provide greatly needed flexibility.

Until there’s a hydrogen infrastructure in place, fuel cell vehicles will never be built in large numbers.

#6 Peter Hinden on 02.10.09 at 9:31 pm

Why can these Hi-Pa Drive type systems utilize some type of regenerative systems to recharge the batteries as the vehicle goes through it’s braking thus cutting down the amount of re-charging time required.

#7 Brian Lawther on 03.25.09 at 12:26 pm

Peter, the motors are the brakes as well, no mechanicals ones, so do recharge the batteies on braking. 85% energy recovery. This reduces the unsprung weight of the wheel assemble and increase the range of the vehicle. For a sports car google the Lightening Car Company using these motors, looks like a DB9.

#8 Rodger James Sillars on 04.25.09 at 11:06 pm

Ford needs to really push the all electric approach. Going a step further take out the steering mechanism and steer by varying the wheel speeds. Allow charging at 120/220 and 480. Parking locations can do charging and at high rates one could charge the truck car at a restaurant during a meal. With enough locations range becomes less of a problem. Restaurant chains could advertise their green charging option and reserve seats inside and a spot outside on the internet. The next step would be tollways with charging high soeed lanes with drafting trains of cars doing 90 while charging. Electrical pick-up by third rail or pavement embedded induction systems. 50,000 mile maintenance intervals to change tires and reline brakes. What’s not to like?
Sorry Midas, Chevron and lots of new buggy whip businesses.

#9 Constantin on 06.17.09 at 2:19 am

I wrote them today asking the price for the motors and also for the all F 150 PLM Ford Electric ! No answers so far ! They say that they can not produce these motors in mass volume BUT I think the blame is THE OIL LOBBY ! So ***** THE OIL LOBBY !

#10 David on 07.27.09 at 7:13 am

The one thing keeping me from buying a truck is the horrible gas mileage. I can’t justify getting only 15 mpg city on a 40k vehicle (with options), when I can get another vehicle that gets 30-40 mpg. Ford announced a bunch of electric and hybrid vehicles they were working on and I was disappointed not to see an F-series among them. I think it would sell great.

I really don’t understand why all the EVs and most of the hybrids are tiny little cars. If we want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help the environment, the biggest change would be seen by increasing the fuel economy on the vehicles that use the most fuel! Just convert MPG for a ford to gal/100 mi (or L/100 km). Going from 15-30mpg (i.e. from 6.67gal/100 mi to 3.33 gal/100 mi) is a bigger absolute fuel savings than going from 30-300mpg (i.e. 3.33 gal/100 mi to 0.33 gal/100 mi). Sure, 300mpg sounds impressive, but you’re saving less actual gas. Multiply the savings in gas on the former by the fact that the F-series is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., and you’re talking about a real impact.

As far as range, a lot of people don’t go very far in work trucks and I’m sure many could have access to plug up while they’re at a job. Now that rapid-charges have gotten down to anywhere from 10-30 min, I agree with Rodger’s post above that restaurants could capitalize on that for longer trips with 30 min wait times. The 10 min wait times I’ve seen for other vehicles are not that bad to wait even if one wasn’t planning on stopping for food. To pay electric rates vs. gas–that’d be worth the wait. It costs ~$100 right now to fill up a full-size tank in an F-series. I wouldn’t imagine the actual electricity costing more than ~$5 (guess)–with 100$ profit, that’d be $10.

As far as mass production, I find it very suspect that Mitsubishi can fit everything they need into the iMiev for ~$30k and Ford couldn’t fit it into a full-size truck for “reasonable prices.” A fully loaded King Ranch or Limited goes in the $50s. Given that gas on a vehicle like that costs $4-5k/yr, I could easily see someone paying an extra $10k for a plug-in electric and maybe 5k for double fuel mileage on a hybrid.

#11 Allen on 08.11.09 at 1:34 pm

I love the idea of the restaurants featuring a recharge station, but full charge times would have to be greatly reduced. AS everyone knows, if you do not fully charge a battery, it decreases the life of the battery. So you may increase the range of that trip, but the life of that battery has just been reduced. I believe that electric motors is where the main focus should be though.

#12 Robert Krieger on 10.06.10 at 10:32 am

I am venturing into a new business doing load tests on elevators. I will need 5,000 pounds of ballast to move from the truck to the elevator on wheeled carts. My thought is to have a truck like the one above constructed such that the battery packs can be used as the ballast for the load test. When the batteries are not being used as ballast for the elevator load test, it can be wheeled back to the truck and used as a motive force to the next job. So, How can I get this now and in Southern California?

I am confident that this service will get a lot of free press releases.

Respectfully Submitted,

Robert L Krieger Jr.

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