DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. gave a preview of its battery-powered F-150 on Tuesday during a visit by President Joe Biden to promote his administration's $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would encourage development of electric vehicles.
Ford parked the F-150 Lightning, which it plans to fully reveal Wednesday evening, behind Biden during his remarks at the automaker's new $700 million Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich., that will assemble the truck. Following his speech, the president made an unscheduled pit stop to drive a prototype on a Dearborn test track.
“This sucker’s quick,” Biden said as he pulled up to reporters while driving the Lightning with a member of the Secret Service in the passenger seat. He had joked earlier in the day he wanted to sneak off to a track.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford had earlier promised Biden, a noted car fan who has a classic Chevrolet Corvette, that the Lightning would "give your Corvette a run for its money."
"Thank you for showing how we win the competition for the 21st century," Biden said. “The future of the auto industry is electric; there’s no turning back.”
Ford said the F-150 Lightning behind Biden was a "sneak preview" of what was to come during the official reveal Wednesday night. The gray prototype looked different from the gasoline model, featuring a light bar running across the entire front of the vehicle and a closed grille.
Before his speech, the president received a tour of the center from Executive Chairman Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley and other top executives.
Ahead of Biden's visit, the administration on Tuesday unveiled details of a $174 billion EV plan that proposes cost-sharing grants to support new high-capacity battery facilities in the U.S. and which would provide incentives for companies to build EVs in the U.S. using good labor practices. The EV plan is part of the administration's $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.
"We know these kinds of federal investments work," Biden said.
Ford hopes its F-150 Lightning can continue the sales dominance of its bestselling gasoline model and win over buyers skeptical of electric powertrains.
"Too many people hear the word 'electric vehicle' and think it's a frou-frou product," Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told Automotive News ahead of Biden's visit. "This isn't a frou-frou product. This is a vehicle men and women are going to want to drive."
The F-150 has been the nation's top-selling pickup the past 44 years, and the bestselling vehicle overall the past 39 years. Studies have shown that F-Series trucks alone generate more revenue than major corporations such as McDonald's, Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa and Netflix.
Ford executives, including Farley and Kumar Galhotra, head of North America and the International Market Groups, showed Biden details on how the vehicle will be made.
"I'll be damned," he said when viewing one of the factory's machines.
The president may have let slip some details about the vehicle ahead of its reveal.
He noted that Ford told him the battery weighed 1,800 pounds. And when he was driving the pickup, he said the car goes 0-to-60 in about 4.4 seconds. When he asked a Ford representative for clarification on the exact number, the rep said the info won't be made public until the official reveal tomorrow and laughed.
Audrey LaForest contributed to this report.