Rachel Maddow on F-150 Lightning

FutureBoy

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This was an interesting take on the F-150 Lightning. On the actual show, this segment was immediately followed by an interview with Linda Zhang who is the Chief Engineer of the F-150 Lightning. I don't see the interview on YouTube but here is the intro:


It's an interesting take. Makes me wonder if the CT spec update from Tesla is waiting till after this reveal so that Elon can have a good comparison story with the CT. I'll be curious to see the F-150 reveal. I wonder what cool features it will have (I'm sure there will be some). And I wonder if anything revealed by Ford will cause any changes to the CT.





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She makes a really good point. Most of us here know or understand that the CT will be the better truck between the two but that's because we are in a Cybertruck forum lol we love our future truck and know more about it through daily updates from people around the world who are fascinated like we are.

I was working at a friend's house yesterday. He owns his own auto detailing business and of course, we start talking about trucks. He asked, "Are you still waiting for that crazy-looking truck"? (that is the extent of his knowledge of the CT) His girlfriend was in the room and had no idea that Tesla was making a truck. As I explained a few features to her, I could see her mind being blown. Her favorite feature was the ramp and beating most sports cars off the line.

It dawned on me that most of America probably has no idea about what is coming. It's business as usual for them until all of these electric trucks hit them in the face.

So good for Tesla, good for Ford, and good for Rivian for bringing the future here today.
 

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This was an interesting take on the F-150 Lightning. On the actual show, this segment was immediately followed by an interview with Linda Zhang who is the Chief Engineer of the F-150 Lightning. I don't see the interview on YouTube but here is the intro:


It's an interesting take. Makes me wonder if the CT spec update from Tesla is waiting till after this reveal so that Elon can have a good comparison story with the CT. I'll be curious to see the F-150 reveal. I wonder what cool features it will have (I'm sure there will be some). And I wonder if anything revealed by Ford will cause any changes to the CT.
If CT design change based on lightening features, I doubt we get the update immediately after. If it is fixed, there is more likelihood that we do.

All F series going electric would be huge. Keep in mind that means roughly 4-7 billion batteries annually with current tech. And I am guessing unless Ford does a radical design to lower manufacturing cost, either profit margins has to take a hit or price will increase (more buyers for CT). I think it will be a slow transition to full electrification of F series at best. The pace may pick up as battery tech, supply and price improves.
 
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If CT design change based on lightening features, I doubt we get the update immediately after. If it is fixed, there is more likelihood that we do.

All F series going electric would be huge. Keep in mind that means roughly 4-7 billion batteries annually with current tech. And I am guessing unless Ford does a radical design to lower manufacturing cost, either profit margins has to take a hit or price will increase (more buyers for CT). I think it will be a slow transition to full electrification of F series at best. The pace may pick up as battery tech, supply and price improves.
I agree that due to battery shortages there will necessarily be a slow move to the Lightning. Interestingly though, that might be even better for CT. I think the Lightning will blow people’s mind to the point that normal truck people will turn their attention to it. They will start to crave the newest electrified truck from Ford. They will finally learn about the great features enabled by battery power. They will want to buy one. And they will get on a years long waiting list. And while they are drooling over their Lightning order, CT will start shipping in quantities like no other EV truck. And it will have a lower price. And it will have even better specs.. And one of their buddies will get one. And they will take a test ride with their buddy. And again their mind will be blown. At that point it’s really hard to say which truck will sell better.
 
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I haven’t found video of the interview portion of the show with Linda Zhang who is the Chief Engineer of the F-150 Lightning but I did find a transcript of the show. Here is the portion that includes the interview:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Joe Biden and I`m a car guy. And I wanted to be here today, the day before you unveil the next generation of America`s best-selling vehicle to the entire world to thank you. Thank you for showing how we win the competition of the 21st century. You know, how the future is going to be made, how it`s going to be made here in America. Made in America.

(APPLAUSE)


You know, I just got a tour of a ground-breaking electric vehicle center here along with UAW workers. They showed me the technology they`re using to build this first-ever fully electric F-150. I was able to sit in it. Quite frankly, they let me see it so I apologize to you that won`t see it until tomorrow, but man, you`re going to like it.

And I`d sure like to drive it. I wonder whether or not I can lose the Secret Service and go out to the track. But y`all think I`m kidding, don`t you? The press knows I`m not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: He did actually take it out and rip it around the track at his trip today in Dearborn. They have all that cladding around the vehicle. It looks like a weird paint job on it. That`s to disguise the shape of the vehicle. Obviously, you can see the basic shape of it but that`s so you can`t see too much detail. It`s supposed to be optical illusion so you can`t make out exactly what it looks like and that`s because it hasn`t been properly unveiled. It`s going to be unveiled tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. Eastern in what`s probably the most anticipated car launch in -- well, since I`ve been a car person.


President Biden did give away some of the specs. We did get to see him driving it around. He said to reporters he thought he could do 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. A full-size crew pickup. Those are very fast numbers. It didn`t sound like that was right until he took off like the truck was fired out of a gun.

That all happened ahead of the formal revealing of this truck tomorrow night.

Linda Zhang came to this country in third grade. "Detroit Free Press" just did a profile on her that explained a little of her backstory. She came here at 8 age, speaking zero English. She learned the first part of the alphabet, ABCDEFGH, the first eight letters of the alphabet on the plane on the way over to America but that was her entire knowledge of English by the time she landed.

She learned quickly. By the end of her family`s first year here, she was fluent in English. Started to do great in school. She and her family were from China. Her dad had come over to be a grad student at Purdue in Indiana and that`s how she and her family moved here when she was 8 years old.


Her dad was an engineer. Mom was an engineer too. Ultimately, Linda became an engineer as well. Degrees in electrical engineer, degrees in computer engineering. She got those advanced degrees while working at Ford. Ms. Zhang started there when she was 19. She`s now in her 40s.

And the woman who you saw driving in the towing a million pounds stunt with all the rail cars with the truck stuff inside the rail cars with the first prototype of the Ford F-150, that`s here, that`s Linda Zhang. And the reason he`s in all of these videos, including the big reveal about how much it can tow, the reason she`s on this because she is the chief engineer in charge of the electric Ford F-150. She`s the chief engineer for the vehicle that can do more to change the history of the combustion engine than anything else since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

If what she has done works, and crucially if it is better than what has come before it, if what Ford has done is build a Ford F-150 that is all electric, that is better than Ford F-150s that are powered by gas or diesel, this will change the game. This will change the climate literally. This will change America`s relationship to the internal combustion engine faster than anything else could. That one vehicle would make that big a difference.

Linda Zhang`s labor of love with her team at Ford could be one of those turning point inventions that catapults us forward technologically not in an incremental way but really all at once.


Joining us now is Linda Zhang. She`s the chief engineer behind the new all- electric Ford F-150.

Ms. Zhang, it`s a real honor to meet you. Thanks for being with us.

LINDA ZHANG, ELECTRIC FORD F-150 CHIEF ENGINEER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: No pressure on you the way that I`m describing this, I know. And I know there`s a lot of details that you can`t get into until the truck officially launches tomorrow night. But bottom line, I think there`s a gazillion Americans who have gas-powered trucks and like their gas-powered trucks. There`s a reason Ford F Series is the most popular for decades running.


What`s your pitch to them? Why switch to the new one instead?

ZHANG: Well, in a way, the F-150 Lightning is an inflection point for not only the company as we electrify some of our most best-selling trucks but also for the country as we`re basically entering a bit of a transition to be able to get to an EV adoption. And this truck not only provides our customers with the reliability and durability that they need but also productivity and functionality along with a lot of new tools that we provide with the use of electrification, whether it`s powering up your home as a backup generator or power on the go to be able to light up an entire campsite or work site.

MADDOW: I know that you`ve been working at ford since you were 19 years old. You`ve had your whole career there. Being the chief engineer on this vehicle is a really key role for a key inflection point both for the company and the country. How much does Ford need to reinvent itself to be able to produce the electric version of this truck?

I know that a lot of people when they got a glimpse of it behind the president today at his event, they thought, wow, that really looks like an F-150, it doesn`t look like some futuristic rebadged totally different thing that`s designed to scream that it`s an electric thing but it`s got to be such a different process to make something like this. It`s got to be a reinvention for the company in its capacity as well.


ZHANG: Yes, in a way. So we leverage a lot of the really great elements about the truck. And what our customers love about the truck. So whether it`s the Super Crew Cab with the five passenger seats or the full 5 1/2 inch box, those are some of the things that we carry over because we know that our customers need that.

But in addition to that, we do take a look at all of the electrification bits and get it to the point that it does do the job, whether it`s durability or reliability or productivity, making sure that it functions the way that our customers would expect and actually in a way exceeding some of those expectations as well.

As you saw in some of the videos with President Biden, the performance of the vehicle is just amazing. It`s exhilarating and his ability to take off and get that fastest acceleration of any truck is so much fun.

MADDOW: I have to ask you, as chief engineer, I know from reading some of what I`ve read about the production process for this vehicle that one of the things that you have permanently helmed is sort of torturing the truck, putting it through everything from minus 40 degrees to 120 degrees temperatures, insane grades and saltwater baths and caustic materials and putting it through everything the proving ground has to offer.


It sounds terrible from the point of view of the truck being treated that way but I imagine being the person in charge of that some of that was kind of fun. Was there anything that you particularly enjoyed or thought was cool about trying to put it through its paces?

ZHANG: Oh, definitely. So with nearly century of truck know-how, we know that durability and reliability is really important for our customers, so we put the F-150 Lightning through the same grueling engineering and testing regimen as we do all of the F Series. And with that, that includes a lot of the tests that you mentioned. Whether it`s up power hill or over a creek, some of those routes are so tough that we actually have robots to drive them. So, really getting the truck to be the best product for our customer so they can depend on it to get their job done.

MADDOW: Linda Zhang, chief engineer behind the all new electric Ford F-150 which will be formally revealed in 24 hours, which I really believe could be the biggest leap forward. If it takes off, it will be the biggest leap forward we will have as a country in terms of moving away from internal combustion engines.

Good luck. I imagine you won`t sleep much in the next 24 hours, but thank you for taking the time to be with us tonight.


ZHANG: Thanks so much for having me.

MADDOW: All right. We have much more to get to tonight, stay with us. Appreciate it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
 
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I thought this part of the interview with Linda Zhang was interesting:

So with nearly century of truck know-how, we know that durability and reliability is really important for our customers, so we put the F-150 Lightning through the same grueling engineering and testing regimen as we do all of the F Series. And with that, that includes a lot of the tests that you mentioned. Whether it`s up power hill or over a creek, some of those routes are so tough that we actually have robots to drive them.
I can just imagine that in order to test the new Lightning, Ford develops amazing humanoid robots to drive the truck through dangerous situations. Then they try to sell the truck but put the humanoid robot on the shelf. LOL.

In actuality I’d bet the “robot” they used was just a remote control rig with a remote radio control being directed by a human. But it was a funny thought.
 

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Ford has been investing in new battery production, remember, their partner was caught spoliating evidence in the patent case. But Ford is clearly following in Tesla's footsteps here.

-Crissa
 

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I can just imagine that in order to test the new Lightning, Ford develops amazing humanoid robots to drive the truck through dangerous situations. Then they try to sell the truck but put the humanoid robot on the shelf.
I think they use robots that have a bit of experience putting the truck through its paces. The question is, do you really want to take this tester home with your lightening?

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Given the chance, President Biden would have preferred to tour the Cybertruck factory rather than a Ford factory. But, the Texas Giga factory where the Cybertruck will be made is still under construction.
 

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Given the chance, President Biden would have preferred to tour the Cybertruck factory rather than a Ford factory. But, the Texas Giga factory where the Cybertruck will be made is still under construction.
Exactly right.

So it is entirely possible President Biden might tour the Tesla Austin factory once it is finished and as part of either Model Y launch or Cybertruck.
 

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