Michael SimariCar and Driver
- All Ford F-150 Lightning pickups come with a generator function that can use the battery pack to output electricity to a variety of outlets in the frunk, cabin, and bed.
- If you plug the Lightning into itself, it attempts to charge itself.
- No, this isn’t perpetual motion/unlimited energy/the fountain of youth.
We had to try it. The new electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning comes with a generator function called Pro Power Onboard. All variants output up to 2.4 kilowatts from a variety of outlets in the frunk, cabin, and bed. As an option and included on the top two trims, Lariat and Platinum, the capability increases to 9.6 kilowatts. The higher-output version includes a 240-volt, 30-amp outlet in the bed that can be used for a variety of higher-draw needs, including charging another EV at a decent 7.2 kilowatts. But what happens if you plug the Lightning into itself?
Well, we were just as surprised as anyone when the Lightning started furiously moving electrons out of the battery pack through the outlet in the bed and then putting them straight back into the battery through the charge port on the driver’s-side fender. The center-stack display dutifully shows the rear outlet maxed out at 7.2 kilowatts, while the gauge-cluster display predicts a time when the charging will be complete. Cue a clickbaity headline from the shadowy dregs of the internet: One Weird Trick Your Electric Company Does NOT Want You to Know!
In reality, there are losses associated with the process of converting the DC energy stored in the battery to AC output to the charging equipment and then AC back to DC through the charge port. Assuming 12 percent losses, the Lightning could keep up this charade for about 150 hours, or just over six days, moving the equivalent of about eight times the energy stored in its 131.0-kWh extended-range pack before it would be completely drained. It would be less than that, actually, as the generator function shuts down when the state of charge gets low.
Can’t the truck figure out that the output and input rates are ramping up in lockstep to sniff out this inane behavior? Apparently not. And we haven’t spotted any Ford patent applications for perpetual motion.
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