Home » The Ford Switchgear Concept Is The Raptorized F-150 Lightning That Ford Could Build Tomorrow

The Ford Switchgear Concept Is The Raptorized F-150 Lightning That Ford Could Build Tomorrow

Raptorized Ligtning Switchgear
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Work trucks have been built to handle off-road duties for eons. After all, there are plenty of jobs to be done off the beaten trail. However, it’s really only in the last decade or so that we’ve seen a huge ramp-up in the world of performance off-road trucks. Models like the F-150 Raptor and Ram TRX came out with a combination of bonkers power and ruggedized suspension for charging hard through the rough stuff. Now, Ford looks set to bring the same concept to bear on electric trucks. Enter the Ford F-150 Lightning Switchgear.

It’s a slightly confusing name, I won’t lie. We’re not talking about the switches and buttons in the F-150 Lightning. Switchgear is the name of this special concept that’s built for rapid progress in ugly, bumpy terrain. To that end, Ford is revealing the F-150 Lightning Switchgear to the public at King of the Hammers on January 25, where the biggest and baddest off-road brawlers come to play. It’s wearing a bold Ford Performance livery to the grand ball, so you’re certainly not going to miss it in the crowd.

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The Switchgear has been given exactly the kind of hardcore makeover we love to see. It’s got a widened track compared to the regular F-150 Lightning, complete with big rubber tucked under massive flared wheel arches. Naturally, it’s been lifted, too. Suspension-wise, it’s got 3-inch diameter Fox shocks, with the fatter units better able to handle bigger hits. Suspension travel is a full 11 inches up front, and 13 inches at the rear.

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Big Fox shocks help soak up the impact from massive landings.

The drivetrain itself remains unchanged from the stock F-150 Lightning. It delivers a healthy 580 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque from dual motors driving all four wheels.

Ford actually built two distinct configurations for the Switchgear. The off-road version rocks 18-inch wheels with beadlocks, with 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grapplers. Oh, and rock rails and a spare wheel rack. To further aid ground clearance and approach and departure angles, it wears unique front and rear bumpers, too. The suspension has droop limiting straps front and rear for keeping everything cushdy when getting air over whoops at speed. It sits high with a full 13.5 inches of ride height up front, and 11 inches at the rear.

In contrast, the street version gets a sweet carbon composite front bumper with a wide air dam. Its side skirts are made of the same material, and it gets a tonneau cover to complete the look. It wears larger 20-inch wheels wrapped in Nitto NT420Vs—a popular luxury truck and SUV tire. It sits much lower, with 7 inches of ride height up front and 5 inches at the rear.

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The Switchgear was built as a collaborative effort. Ford Performance pitched in on the build with Vaughn Gittin Jr. and RTR Vehicles. It’s not the first time the Ford and RTR have worked together; the latter company was behind the F-150 RTR Ultimate Funhaver concept from 2016.

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It’s another great entry into the Ford Performance Demonstrator stable. It lines up against builds like the SuperVan 4.2, Mustang Mach-E 1400, and the F-100 Eluminator. These vehicles serve a marketing purpose, to be sure, but they’re also an opportunity for Ford’s engineers to experiment with that’s possible. The company credits this “playground for engineers” with helping it advance its knowledge and experience in the EV space.

We love it when automakers actually build interesting ideas instead of just leaving them on the drawing board. The Switchgear isn’t the most outrageous by any means; it’s a suspension kit and a few ruggedizing upgrades on an otherwise-normal electric truck. It might not have four-digit horsepower or the ability to cross the English Channel built in, but not every concept has to shoot for the moon. This one tells us that Ford is already thinking about a more performance-oriented electric truck, and that has to be a good thing.

Image credits: Ford

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Sarah Lowrey
Sarah Lowrey
4 months ago

Sorry, but when I hear the word “switchgear”, I imagine the electrical panels I operated at a power plant, as well as repairing when I worked at another company.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

Is the name supposed to be ironic? EVs are doing away with switchgear as much as possible. Or maybe it’s aspirational, Ford’s way of saying “bring back switchgear!” which is a message I heartily endorse.

sentinelTk
sentinelTk
4 months ago

Seriously curious what would need to be done to counteract flex that could damage the battery cells in a hoon machine like this. I assume they had to tweak something to ensure they didn’t twist the pack and get real hot real fast.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
4 months ago

Would hoon.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
4 months ago

I’ve never wanted something without a manual transmission so much in my life

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago

So no pictures of the mentioned “street” version?

Anyways, 20″ wheels on the “street” version is ridiculous for anything meant to leave the pavement.

Ford couldn’t quite sell this tomorrow, because you couldn’t just move raptor suspension over to a lightning. I imagine the front suspension is interchangeable but the lightning uses an independent rear totally different from the solid axle in gas f150s including raptors.

Space
Space
4 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I wonder if the 18’s are an option on the street version. 18 is still big in my opinion but it’s better than 20.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago
Reply to  Space

I believe it’s 17s on normal raptors. 17 is almost not too big

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
4 months ago

Love it

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

So, what’s the massive handle jutting up to the top of the dash? The aux rear brakes for drifting, maybe?

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Sure looks like a hydro rear brake. Could also be a trail brake, which is a similar looking device that some people put on rock crawlers, push the handle forwards for right side brakes and back for left side brakes. Helps you turn tighter in poor traction.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Huh. I remember way back some dedicated sandrails had levers for RR & LR brakes, but had no idea that had evolved.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I’m kind of surprised I’ve never seen a rock crawler do it the way tractors have forever: two brake pedals, one for left and one for right.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rust Buckets
PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Ford has been putting big ol ebrake handles on stuff so it
s undoubtedly either a hydro brake or big handle for the electronic rear parking brake.

Fred Fedurch
Fred Fedurch
4 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I read that it is a standard hydraulic e-brake but I suspect it may be the electronic drift brake out of the 24 Mustang with a billet lever.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
4 months ago

Sure, just keep making these ridiculous expensive off road variants while complaining there’s no demand for your $70k evs.

7Cincinnatus
7Cincinnatus
4 months ago

GM: We want everyone to be excited about EVs because we want to be first to the future!
General Public: Yeah! We totally are already because there’s already some really cool ones on the road. But an affordable one would be great! Like a new Nissan Leaf.
GM: Like this? *makes the Bolt*
GP: Yes!!!
GM: Well, go fuck yourself, here’s a new Hummer. And we’re taking away the Bolt.

3laine
3laine
4 months ago

Ford just set a new quarterly sales record for Lightning, and still expects the sales rate to increase by 50% in 2024.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  3laine

As someone who works upstream in the automotive supply chain from Ford, I’ll believe Ford’s sales forecasts when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet.

3laine
3laine
4 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

As someone who works upstream in the automotive supply chain from Ford, I’ll believe Ford’s sales forecasts when me shit turns purple and smells like rainbow sherbet.

Regardless of their sales *forecasts*, actual Lightning sales set a new sales record, by far, in Q4, so the claim I responded to: “no demand” for Lightnings, is not correct.

3laine
3laine
4 months ago

Yes, that article supports exactly what I said.

Sales are way up.

The company sold 20,365 electric trucks through November of this year, marking a 54 percent increase over last year. It also achieved its highest month of sales yet, selling 4393 of the electric truck in November.

And the production GOAL was halved, not current production. The production goal is still 50% higher than the record sale rate they set for Q4.

Ford reportedly told suppliers to expect an average volume of roughly 1600 Lightnings per week at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, beginning in January. That figure is half of the 3200 Lightnings that Ford had previously expected to produce, with the ultimate goal of building 150k/yr.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
4 months ago
Reply to  3laine

You can spin it however you like – I’ve worked in automotive & dealt with changing forecasts for 20 years now…but cutting forecasts in half isn’t a positive when it comes to demand.

Sure, sales are up compared to the prior year (2022) – they didn’t start production until April of that year!

I’m a fan of the lightning, so I’m not even sure what we’re arguing here. I’d just rather see them working on the affordability of the thing vs. another overpriced off-road variant.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago

Sure, sales are up compared to the prior year (2022) – they didn’t start production until April of that year!

Lies, damn lies, and…that other one. What was it? 😉

3laine
3laine
4 months ago

You can spin it however you like

My point is that if I’m spinning it positively, you’re spinning it negatively by claiming there’s “no demand” for Lightnings, when they have just had, by far, their best quarter ever and are beating their original forecast rate.

– I’ve worked in automotive & dealt with changing forecasts for 20 years now…but cutting forecasts in half isn’t a positive when it comes to demand.

That’s true, they cut forecasts for 2024, but that’s AFTER they doubled forecasts twice. They’re already beating their original forecast of ~30-40k/yr rate. They probably went too high when they doubled it twice (not knowing interest rates would go so high, for one), so they’ve pulled back forecasts, but still way above the original forecast.

Sure, sales are up compared to the prior year (2022) – they didn’t start production until April of that year!

I grabbed the whole paragraph from C&D, but the real point is the second half: They had their best month in November, despite many other months of production. They had their 2nd or 3rd best month in December, and their best quarter in Q4, despite other full quarters to compare to. Yes, comparing a whole year to a 2/3 year isn’t apples-to-apples, but “best month” or “best quarter” is fairly comparable.

I’m a fan of the lightning, so I’m not even sure what we’re arguing here.

I’m arguing that your original comment is misleading regarding the claim of “no demand” when they’re beating their original estimates, setting sales records, etc.

Clearly, Ford hoped they’d be selling even better after doubling forecasts twice, but they’re still selling pretty well.

I’d just rather see them working on the affordability of the thing vs. another overpriced off-road variant.

I agree that affordability is an issue, but it’s also worth nothing that affordability is a problem with trucks, in general. The base Lightning (Supercrew 4×4) is the same price, after available tax credit, as the absolute cheapest, weakest, zero-option gas F-150 Supercrew 4×4. It’s VERY competitively priced.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago
Reply to  3laine

Is that why there are a boatload of 2023s sitting on dealer lots?

3laine
3laine
4 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Is that why there are a boatload of 2023s sitting on dealer lots?

Are you disputing the sales numbers that Ford has provided?

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
4 months ago

What a stupid name. I used to work at GE where they built switchgear, and it is not adventure-inspiring stuff. Of course a large portion of the population doesn’t even know what switchgear is, so they won’t know any better..

Axel Portillo
Axel Portillo
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Exactly, I don’t care one bit about what switchgear means. This thing itself is legitimately cool.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Axel Portillo

Switchback would be better

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Agree. So many other good options (or at least options):

The Ford F150:
Amped-Up Edition
Overload
Shock Factor
Lightning Strike
Corona Effect
Spark-Gap
Current Dump

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

You forgot Thundertruck. License the AC/DC song for commercials. Sell 10 billion of them.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago

Damn – that’s great. As your reward, here’s a cover of Thunderstruck by a Norwegian folk group called Steve-n-Seagulls. Seriously, it’s the best think you’ll see and hear all day” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Ao-iNPPUc

It'll buff out
It'll buff out
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

That was an absolute, riot. Some very talented guys. I needed that.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Nice, but I’m a man of wealth and taste (never mind, that is some other guy). However, I’m a fan of the 2Cellos version…
2CELLOS – Thunderstruck [OFFICIAL VIDEO] (youtube.com)

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

Intense.
That is going on the driving playlist: thank you

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

That’s about joyful. Haven’t been so taken by an AC/DC cover since I first heard Hayseed Dixie

7Cincinnatus
7Cincinnatus
4 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Came here to say this. I’ve installed many a section. I’d totally love to drive a massive, hugely heavy gray box with all kinds of either delicate or dangerous (or both!) parts inside

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