When the president of the United States shows up to give a speech at an automotive factory, you might expect to hear talk about jobs, the environment, and international trade. You might even hear stories about the economy. What you probably aren’t expecting is to see the president hop behind the wheel of a pre-production vehicle for an unscripted test drive. That unlikely event took place yesterday, as President Joe Biden buckled into the driver’s seat of a Ford F-150 Lightning and took off down the company’s test track.
As it turns out, being president does have a few upsides, one of which appears to be the ability to commandeer unreleased electric pickup trucks for a quick joyride. While touring Ford’s historic Rouge complex, which has been tapped to produce the automaker’s new electric F-150, Biden remarked that he’d like to test drive the pickup truck. Beyond the fact that presidents just don’t drive, the truck hasn’t even been officially unveiled to the public (that’s scheduled to happened May 19 at 9:30 p.m. EST).
Ford CEO Jim Farley told The Detroit Free Press that a White House staff member approached him after the tour and asked him to accompany Biden’s motorcade to a nearby test track. A short bit later, there was the president, sitting behind the wheel of a camouflaged F-150 Lightning. After a lap or two, a visibly impressed Biden remarked “this sucker’s quick!” before flooring the truck for an acceleration test in front of members of the media.
An impromptu drive by the president is great publicity, but it’s not as if the F-150 Lightning was going to be a low-key vehicle launch to begin with. Ford’s F-150 sales average more than 100 units every hour, so an all-new electrified version of one of the world’s best-selling vehicles is big news.
The new truck is expected to carry a large battery pack and two electric motors, which will send power to all four wheels. In the glimpses of the truck we can catch behind Biden at the podium, the new truck appears to have bodywork that is very close to its gas-powered counterparts, but the grille and front lighting are different. The F-150 Lightning’s grille features an LED light bar that runs from one headlight unit to the other, which is consistent with leaks that we’ve seen from The Blue Oval in recent months.
The electrified F-150 is set to be revealed tonight, May 19 at 9:30 p.m. EST. If you’re hoping to catch the event, you can watch it live on Ford’s YouTube page. We’ll also have an in-depth post on the truck around that same time, so stay tuned.