How Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Once in Hot Demand, Lost Its Luster

In July Michael Puglia drove home with what seemed like the coolest vehicle he’d ever own — a Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck.

It was big enough to haul around his children and all their hockey gear. He’d never have to gas it up, and the ride was exhilarating. “It’s unbelievably fast and responsive,” said Mr. Puglia, a pediatric anesthesiologist in Ann Arbor, Mich. “The technology is amazing.”

But as cooler weather arrived, the truck’s range — or how far it could travel before needing to be plugged in — dropped significantly. Once, after Mr. Puglia had driven 35 miles to an ice rink, his range fell by 73 miles. Another time, a 60-mile jaunt reduced his range by 110 miles.

Several trips to the dealership for software updates didn’t fix the problem, leaving Mr. Puglia wondering whether he should keep the $79,000 truck.

“People say ‘range anxiety’ — it’s like it’s the driver’s fault,” he said. “But it’s not our fault. It’s actually they’re not telling us what the real range is. The truck says it’s 300 miles. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that.”

Mr. Puglia’s short trip from excitement to frustration reflects the recent ups and downs across the electric vehicle sector. Twelve months ago, sales of battery-powered cars seemed poised for a sustained takeoff in the United States. Sales rose 46 percent last year, exceeding more than one million vehicles for the first time and making up more than 7 percent of all new light vehicles sold in 2023.

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