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.
– by Daniel Gray