2022 Ford F-150 Lightning vs. 2021 Rivian R1T: Electric truck face-off

Settle down, America. The electric trucks have arrived, or at least they are about to. The battles that are about to take place will be one for the history books. It’s one thing for automakers to compete in the marketplace with electric cars, but America runs on trucks. It’s a new day, and a new […]

Settle down, America. The electric trucks have arrived, or at least they are about to.

The battles that are about to take place will be one for the history books. It’s one thing for automakers to compete in the marketplace with electric cars, but America runs on trucks. It’s a new day, and a new game, when automakers start competing for market share with electric pickup trucks.

In one corner we have the new guard, the Rivian R1T. Unveiled way back when, in the before times of 2018, the R1T grabbed the world’s attention out of thin air with eye-opening specs, smart design, and the promise of fitting adventure-seekers’ lifestyles.

In the other corner we have the old guard shifting focus to the future: the Ford F-150. America’s best-selling vehicle, by a wide margin, is getting an electric variant. With all the smart features F-150 buyers know and love underpinned by an electric powertrain, the 2022 F-150 Lightning is teed up for success out of the gate.

Here’s a look at how these two electric pickup trucks stack up on paper.

Are they real?

Everyone wants to talk about the Telsa Cybertruck, but it’s not real, yet. While deliveries were said to begin in 2021 when it was unveiled in 2019, it’s not happening. The factory in Texas isn’t even finished and it’s nearly June. Both the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lighting are real, and will be here likely before the Cybertruck.

Rivian R1T pre-production

Rivian R1T pre-production

Pre-production Rivian R1Ts have been rolling down the assembly line at a factory in Normal, Illinois. Customer deliveries are set to begin in June. In May Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe tweeted an image of R1T body panels sitting on racks waiting to go down the assembly line. It appears everything’s on track to meet the proposed timelines.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford already has a handful of Lightning prototypes running around the clock to test durability under various conditions. The automaker produces nearly a million pickup trucks a year and its F-150 lineup is the best-selling vehicle in America. The Lightning will be built under the same roof in Detroit as the gas-powered F-150. Ford said the Lightning will enter production early next summer, and there’s no reason given the automaker’s track record to believe it won’t meet the deadline.

Both these trucks will happen, soon. Rivian will be first to market, but Ford’s not messing around.

Pricing

Ford’s a large automaker that prints money with the F-150. It’s looking to build the Lightning for consumers and fleets and has priced it accordingly. Rivian’s a new startup automaker and has aimed its pickup directly at the lifestyle adventure-seeking crowd with a Patagonia-worthy price. Neither of these automakers are trying to dance around bottom-line numbers by baking in tax credits or gas savings, because that’s not how you price a vehicle in the real world.

The Rivian R1T will cost about $67,500 when deliveries begin in June. An Adventure Package that adds the off-road upgrades such as underbody shielding, tow hooks, an air compressor, premium audio system, ventilated front seats, and wood trim takes the price to $75,000. Opting for the larger 180-kwh battery adds $10,000. From there options range from wheels and accessories to paint colors. A loaded Rivian R1T appears to be about $90,000.

The Ford F-150 Lightning will be significantly less expensive at $39,974 in work-truck form. The more consumer-friendly XLT model costs $52,974. While the Platinum model hasn’t been priced, Ford’s reservation system noted the upper price range of a Lightning is just over $90,000, so that’s a pretty good estimate.

The Ford’s going to be less expensive, but there might be some overlap in the nicer Lightnings when it comes to pricing.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Range

The Rivian R1T’s set to launch with a 135-kwh lithium-ion battery pack said to deliver at least 300 miles of range. In January a larger 180-kwh pack will join the lineup with at least 400 miles of range, and in the middle of 2022 a smaller 105-kwh battery will be offered delivering about 230 miles of range.

Ford’s approach is simpler with only two battery pack options. A standard-range battery, which is said to deliver an estimated 230 miles of EPA-rated range, and an extended-range battery pack with an estimated EPA-range of 300 miles. Ford’s being quiet on the battery pack sizes, for now.

Rivian handily wins with 400 miles of range, though, it’ll probably be slightly cheaper (how much is yet to be determined) to get into a Lightning with 300 miles of range than an R1T with 300 miles of range.

Rivian will offer more range, but it’ll cost more.

Rivian battery pack [from video]

Rivian battery pack [from video]

Power

While the Lightning and R1T don’t have the same amount of electric motors or power they do have one important thing in common: the motors are on the axles. There are reasons you won’t find in-wheel motors on these trucks—but go ahead and put the Lordstown Endurance on your wishlist if you really must.

At launch every R1T will feature four electric motors, two per axle, with a combined output of 750 hp and 820 lb-ft of torque. The smaller 105-kwh battery model, which will be launched about the same time as the Lighting, will lower power output to 402 hp and torque hasn’t been discussed, yet.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Every Lightning at launch will have two electric motors, one per axle. The standard-range trucks will have 426 hp while the extended-range trucks will have 563 hp. Every Lightning, regardless of battery pack, will have 775 lb-ft of torque. A single-motor rear-wheel drive model is in the works, but details haven’t been released yet.

Rivian will offer more motors and more power, but it’ll cost more.

Rivian R1T - Davis Grade towing test

Rivian R1T – Davis Grade towing test

Capability

Pickup trucks are supposed to be capable, and both the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning are set to be just that.

Rivian’s said the R1T’s going to be capable of towing up to 11,000 lbs, ford through 3-plus feet of water, rock crawl at a 100% grade, roll over most things with up to 14 inches of ground clearance, and sprint from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Though it won’t be able to do all those things at the same time, obviously. With an approach angle of 34 degrees, departure angle of 29.3 degrees, and breakover angle of 25.7 degrees the R1T’s going to be capable off-road.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford’s aiming to deliver an electric F-150 with real-world capability that truck owners need, and it’s not aiming at the same adventure lifestyle Rivian is. Thus, the F-150’s capabilities are different, yet just as strong as the Rivian. While it only has 8.9 inches of ground clearance it can act as a rolling generator with a power output of up to 9.6 kw with power plugs in the frunk, cab, and bed to power tools on the job or while out having fun. Ford said it’ll be able to spring from 0-60 mph in the mid-4-second range, tow up to 10,000 lbs, and carry up to 2,000 lbs of payload, though not all at the same time, obviously. The F-150’s main objective is more at the worksite than the trailhead, and that’s apparent with an approach angle of 25.4 degrees, departure angle of 24.2 degrees, and breakover angle of 17.8 degrees.

Both these trucks seem to be supremely capable, yet capable at different types of things. Are you going off-road and seeking adventure or looking to power the worksite or home?

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Size

Unlike some theoretical competitors both the R1T and Lightning look like what they are: trucks. But the F-150’s an F-150 while the R1T’s slightly more compact than most full-size pickups, which have grown immense in recent years.

The R1T’s going to be 217.1 inches long and 81.8 inches wide (with the side mirrors folded) with a wheelbase of 135.9 inches. Including the antenna it’ll be 75.7 inches tall. Combined, the front trunk, bed, and gear tunnel are said to hold 68 cubic feet of gear, and that gear tunnel behind the cabin ahead of the bed can hold up to 300 pounds.

The Lightning’s nearly identical to gas-powered F-150 in size at 232.7 inches long and 83.6 inches wide (with the side mirrors folded) with a 145.5-inch wheelbase. It’ll be 78.9 inches tall. The front trunk will hold up to 14.1 cubic feet and up to 400 pounds of gear while the bed can haul 52.8 cubic feet of stuff.

The Lightning’s bigger, which means the Rivian will be easier to park, easier to live with, while still holding about as much gear as the Lightning.

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Design

These trucks look like trucks.

The Rivian R1T, being smaller, casts a different shadow than the Ford, but it’s distinct in its own right. The exterior features LED lighting in the front and rear that runs the width of the truck. The charge port is on the front left side of the bumper. Inside the R1T’s features a simple interior that lacks buttons.

The Lighting looks like an F-150 with updated head and taillights. The charge port is on the front driver side fender. Inside it’s an F-150 with a larger touchscreen on upper trim models with lots of hard button controls for climate and audio functions.

Rivian charging network plan - March 2021

Rivian charging network plan – March 2021

Charging

With massive battery packs, charge rates will be key, and both of these pickup trucks will be capable of speedy DC fast-charging. But otherwise they use their charge ports a bit differently.

Rivian’s focus is ensuring those seeking adventure can reach their destination. In that vein the startup automaker’s building out its own charging network dubbed the Rivian Adventure Network. It’ll be akin to the Tesla Supercharger network, but a large focus of the charging stations will be on locations one might go on an adventure, like National and State Parks, the mountain ranges, trail heads, and more. Rivian’s chargers will have charging rates of over 200 kw initially and 300-plus kw in the future, according to the automaker. The R1T will be able to gain up to 140 miles of range in 20 minutes. For home use, Rivian’s offering an 11.5-kw charging system while a portable 240V charger will provide 7.6 kw and be able to deliver up to 16 miles of charge per hour. The 240V charger will also plug into a 120V outlet with a provided adapter.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford’s focus with the Lightning is charging at home or at a fleet garage while being able to share the battery pack’s energy when needed, whether at home to power a house during a power outage, or on the go to power tools at the job site. Lightnings have dual onboard chargers. Ford said the truck can gain 54 miles of range in 10 minutes while recharging from 15% to 80% in about 41 minutes on a 150-kw fast charger. Peak charge rates will be over 150 kw, but Ford won’t say what it is, yet. An 80-amp charging station will be standard to enable the Lightning with an extended-range battery to recharge from 15% to 100% in about eight hours. On a Level 2 240-volt mobile charger the Lightning will need 19 hours to take its battery from 15% to 100%, though that drops to 14 hours with the standard-range battery.

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

Rivian R1T electric pickup concept

Technology

Both of these trucks are rolling tech showcases, constantly connected by 4G cellular modems, and capable of over-the-air software updates, but their approaches to how the tech is implemented is different.

Rivian hasn’t fully detailed its technology, yet, but we know the R1T features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 15.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Nearly the entire truck is controlled via the touchscreens with little to no buttons on the clean interior. Those in the rear seat will find a 6.8-inch touchscreen. Like Tesla, Rivian designed an interface for its vehicles with maps, music, navigation, and adventure-focused features.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Ford’s taken a more traditional approach with the Lightning’s interior looking like that of an F-150 with a massive touchscreen on some models. Every Lightning will have a 12.0-inch digital gauge cluster, folding gear selector on the center console, and a fold-flat center armrest to create a hard, flat work surface. A 15.5-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen infotainment system—which looks very similar to what’s found in the Mustang Mach-E—will be in Lariat and Platinum models while the XLT trim will make do with a 12.0-inch touchscreen.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Safety

Every R1T will come standard with a hands-free driver assist system along with adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Every Lightning will feature automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts, and lane-keep assist. Adaptive cruise control and Ford’s hands-free driver assist system called BlueCruise will be available.