When Ford Motor Co. rolled out an on-board generator as an option on the redesigned F-150 last fall, it explained how customers could use it for camping, to power a TV and blender while tailgating or run tools at a construction site.
A much different and more serious benefit of the feature, called Pro Power Onboard, became apparent last week after winter storms crippled the power grid in Texas, the heart of pickup country.
As millions of Texans shivered in dark, frigid homes, stories emerged of people connecting their furnaces, lights and refrigerators to the bed of their 2021 F-150.
Randy Jones, a retired refinery worker, thought the 7.2-kilowatt generator on the F-150 hybrid he bought a few weeks ago might be helpful during hurricane season. When the power went off last week, he said the truck performed flawlessly, using only about six or seven gallons of gasoline while running from about 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Some of his neighbors used the truck to charge their phones and tablets.
"I'm thrilled to death over it," he said. "Everything I wanted I plugged in. If I had more splitters I would have plugged more in."
As the extent of the disaster became apparent, Ford asked dealers to loan out as many generator-equipped F-150s from their inventory as they could, offering $600 in bonus money to put the trucks into their loaner fleets.
Ford said there were about 415 generator-equipped pickups on Texas dealers' lots. The trucks still can be sold to retail customers during an upcoming "Truck Month" promotion in March, the letter said.
"Due to the urgent and unprecedented weather situation in Texas, a number of our local dealers are using all-new Ford F-150s equipped with Pro Power Onboard to help in their communities," Ford said in a statement. "We're proud to pitch in to help Texas in this time of need."