Battery Excerpts: Review of Ford Hybrid F-150 PowerBoost

Although not fully electric, the Roadshow recently took a test drive and reviewed Ford’s new hybrid half-ton pickup, the 2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost. The author, Chris Paukert, writes:

I’ve got exactly zero empirical evidence to back this up, but if I had to guess which new-vehicle buyers are the most inherently against vehicle electrification, I’d wager it’s pickup shoppers. Conversely, with the truck segment’s emphasis on torque and its seeming indifference to higher curb weights, light-duty pickups stand to benefit from gaining a motorized helping hand more than most. While others have tried and largely failed to spark interest in gas-electric trucks, spending a few days driving this 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost has me convinced that this model stands the best chance of converting the masses to the joy of electrons. In fact, it’s the first hybrid pickup I’d buy with my own money.

When I say “masses,” I mean it. Ford’s F-Series has been America’s best-selling truck for 43 straight years, and the country’s best-selling new vehicle of any type. In fact, the truck line is one of this nation’s chief economic drivers, reportedly earning more money than every major US sport combined. Ford built 900,000 F-Series trucks last year. That means that even if hybrid models only make up a modest percentage of total F-150s sold going forward, PowerBoost could single-handedly have a bigger net effect on America’s fossil-fuel consumption than any other vehicle — Tesla included. This new truck, then, is a big deal. No pressure.

While I still have my eyes set on the Tesla Cybertruck (the Tri-Motor AWD of course), as a current Ford F-150 owner I haven’t fully dismissed Ford’s new hybrid truck or their upcoming all-electric pickup. I’m slightly concerned that hybrid vehicles can be overly complicated (at least more complicated than gas-only and electric only) and wonder about the maintenance costs. But put that all aside, the numbers are quite impressive. For example, take a look at the additional details on the 2021 Ford PowerBoost that have been available via Ford’s Media Center.

The all-new 3.5-liter PowerBoost full hybrid V6 powertrain makes F-150 the only light-duty full-size pickup to offer a full hybrid and is available on every trim level from XL to Limited. The full hybrid powertrain is the most powerful engine in the all-new F-150 lineup, delivering 430 horsepower and 570 lb.-ft. of torque. The no-compromise PowerBoost system adds instant electric torque to Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 and is targeting an EPA-estimated range of approximately 700 miles on a single tank of gasᶧ and will deliver a maximum available 12,700 pounds towing.

PowerBoost combines Ford’s proven EcoBoost engine and 10-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission with a 35-kilowatt (47-horsepower) electric motor integrated into the transmission, as well as software calibrated specially for truck use, including drive modes like tow/haul mode to help customers better manage towing heavy trailers.

The electric motor applies regenerative braking energy capture to help recharge the 1.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The battery is efficiently packaged underneath the truck, leaving the cab and cargo box of PowerBoost F-150 as spacious for passengers and cargo as other comparably equipped F-150 models. The system is capable of sustained battery usage at extreme outside temperatures or under heavy loads.

Outside of the electric motor options for the F-150, I’m an avid camper constantly hauling a travel trailer around with my trucks . I have to admit that the on-board power generator for the Ford Powerboost also makes this truck quite tempting.

You’ll want to go back to the Roadshow article and read up all about the Pro Power Onboard. As much as I’m an advocate for electric vehicles admittedly it makes much more sense to me to bring along a gas-powered electric generator (I currently use an older Honda EU2000i for my needs) than pulling power from your all-electric truck’s batteries. When you’re off grid and camping in the middle of nowhere, I’d rather make sure my electric truck has the ability to get me home than use it as an energy source for my campsite.

Ford’s Powerboost with Pro Power Onboard may be the compromise you’re looking for to have the best of both gas and electric worlds.

Car and Driver: Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric

Jaguar could drop all of its gasoline-powered models and become a fully electric luxury brand in the near future, if a report from the U.K.’s Autocar is to be believed. Jaguar has already stated publicly that all new models it launches starting in 2020 will offer some sort of hybrid power train, but a move to sell exclusively battery-electric vehicles—if it comes to pass—would be far more drastic.

–  Joseph Capparella, Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric across Its Entire LineupCar and Driver, October 12, 2018.

Electrek: Are you killing your lithium batteries?

Micah Toll wrote a great article at Electrek on two factors that threaten the longevity of lithium-ion batteries.  While most people understand that high temperatures can shorten a battery’s life, probably a less recognized  factor is high voltage. Much of Micah’s article sources a discussion by Professor Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University where it’s claimed that “high charge levels result in extra performance for a few cycles, followed by a crash in performance and much faster deterioration of the cell”.

In the article Toll writes:

Next, you should aim to charge to lower levels when possible, especially if the car will be resting for a long period of time. While it may be comforting to see your battery meter read “100%”, your battery will be anything but comfortable.

It is important to note that the most damage from high charge levels comes from when the battery rests at such high levels for long periods of time. I’ve heard of many people who freak out after learning about the effect of high charge levels, with some swearing off 100% charging forever.

But 100% charging isn’t a big deal in small doses. If you are planning a long trip and will be heading out shortly after you finish charging, a 100% charge will have very little impact on your battery’s lifespan. However, if you will be leaving your battery unused for many days or weeks, a charge level of between 30-60% is much healthier for the batteries over the long-term.

So in summary, avoid heat and a long-term full charge on your lithium batteries.  While some batteries will discharge on their own after so many days of storage, others you may need to discharge  to a lower level manually if you have no plans to use the battery in the near future. I’ve seen some recommendations that for long-term storage a charge level of 30-60% is recommended, but some manufactures have suggested a charge level of 80% is acceptable for long-term storage of your lithium batteries.

I’ve included below Jeff Dahn’s lecture entitled, “”Why do Li-ion batteries die and can they be immortal?”