2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid asks a tough range question

Ford's much-vaunted F-150 Hybrid pickup may not be quite the green machine that some have been hoping for, according to a new report about the automaker's electrification plans. The 2021 F-150 Hybrid will be the first truck in the lengthy history of the nameplate to use a gas-electric drivetrain, and the first step Ford is taking toward an all-electric model. Question is, will it be EV-enough for plug-in hybrid fans?

Electrification of utility vehicles is gaining traction right now, from companies large and small. Ford and GMC have already confirmed they're onboard with the idea, while Tesla's Cybertruck and Rivian's R1T promise some more unusual options.

It's not just for reasons of fashion, either. Electric drive has some big potential advantages for work vehicles, which get to benefit from lashings of instantaneous torque and hefty towing ratings. There are also some helpful side-benefits, like the ability to run power tools directly from the big batteries EVs are typically equipped with.

While there'll be an all-electric F-150 eventually, don't expect that to arrive in the 2021 model year. In fact, the F-150 EV isn't going to come for another few years, Car and Driver reports. The underlying platform of that hasn't been confirmed yet, though they speculate that Ford will turn to Rivian's skateboard architecture much in the same way that Lincoln will use that for a new EV of its own.

The 2021 F-150 Hybrid, however, will be a very different beast. It'll be a plug-in hybrid, pairing a gas engine with electric drive: basically, there'll be an electric motor in-between the turbocharged V6 engine and the truck's 10-speed automatic transmission. A battery of unspecified capacity will support being charged up by plugging in at the wall.

Our guess is that it won't be too huge, though, at least given what we're led to believe will be the F-150 Hybrid's electric range. That's said to be more than 10 miles, though only when the pickup is unladen and used for commuting.

Electric-only range is important, but it's not the only metric that counts of course. While it seems F-150 Hybrid owners won't be doing much driving on EV power alone, the electric motor will be able to lend its support in other ways. Most use is probably going to be in a blended hybrid mode, after all, EV power stepping in when the turbo V6's power isn't enough, such as low in the rev range.

While the current coronavirus pandemic is playing havoc with automakers' launch schedules, the original plan had apparently been for the 2021 Ford F-150 to debut in June 2020. The plug-in hybrid version would have followed on after (along with a new F-150 Raptor with coil rear springs and the potential of 760 hp courtesy of the Mustang Shelby GT500's supercharged 5.2 liter V8). How that actually pans out in the age of COVID-19, we'll have to wait and see.