Ford became the first mainstream automaker to sell an all-electric pickup when the F-150 Lightning launched last year. And the Lightning has since proven itself to be a capable, work-ready truck, able to haul and tow along the same lines as its gas-powered brethren (shorter towing range aside, of course). But a Haligonian businessman has found a way that the F-150 Lightning does a job that other gas-powered pickups simply can’t. And it’s made such a difference for his work that he just bought another.
Max Rastelli is passionate about electric mobility, so much so that he became a Segway dealer in the province 11 years ago, and helped to change laws allowing so-called ‘first-mile, last-mile’ transportation. Five years ago, he started HFX e-Scooters, which now rents out a fleet of around 100 electric scooters on the streets of Halifax.
To keep those charged and running, he had a Ford F-150 that he and his employees used to go pick up these scooters out on the streets of Halifax and bring them back to a central office for charging. And even after he moved to swappable batteries, he still had to bring those back to his office to plug in. As you can imagine, it’s a time-consuming job. Little did he realize his affection for electric vehicles would present a solution: the Ford F-150 Lightning’s Pro Power Onboard charging feature.
“I guess I inherently always had an interest in electric vehicles, but I love trucks,” says Rastelli. “So as soon as I heard that Ford was was was going to introduce an electric F-150, I immediately knew I want one.”
Rastelli ordered an F-150 Lightning XLT, complete with the larger 131 kWh battery and the 9.3 kW Pro Power Onboard, which turns the pickup into, basically, a giant power bank. And that’s when something clicked.
“While I was waiting [for the truck to arrive], I continued to do some research and I started to think about how I could envision this electric truck you know, as a company vehicle and how it could change the operations of HFX e-Scooters.
“And first of all, there’s the optics of it, right? I mean, think about it, we talk about green, we talk about eco-friendly, it’s both of my businesses, and to have an electric vehicle to go out there and relocate scooters and bringing fresh batteries to scooters, the optics was very, very good.
“But then you start hearing about the power that these trucks have on board. I said, ‘Well, wow, we could actually use these as mobile charging stations, and we no longer would have to bring batteries that need to be charged physically back to our charging station!’ I started to realize that that this was a possibility, and that that’s going to make things much more efficient for us.”
Rastelli still drives around Halifax, but now he swaps charged batteries into the scooters and plugs the low batteries into the truck – the Pro Power Onboard features two 120 V outlets in the cab, four in the frunk and up to four in the bed. While not available on the XLT, a 240V outlet can be had on the Lariat. There’s no need to go back to an office, the truck does the charging while he’s on the road. In the two or so hours it takes to do the first loop of the city, the batteries he’s picked up will already be ready to swap again.
“You can probably start to appreciate how that really did improve our efficiency, productivity, time and effort,” he says.
“We basically stay out there and keep doing loops and never have to come back to our fixed charging station. It was such a game changer. It made such a huge impact that we could grow the business, we basically doubled our [scooter] fleet size, with the same staff and the same number of trucks.”
With the added batteries, Rastelli says his fixed office wouldn’t handle the increased power draw, but the truck can. In fact, he often has up to 32 batteries in the Lightning plugged in at one time. “Not only does it save us on fuel, and not only does it help us grow the business and make us twice as efficient and twice as productive, but it saves me any costs I would have had to incur by leasing more space and bringing power to add more fixed charging stations,” he says.
Rastelli was so impressed, he bought a second Lightning right off the lot, this time a Lariat with the larger 131 kWh battery. And not only does it help him at work, he enjoys it off the job, too, raving about its acceleration, linear power delivery and smooth ride. “It’s so impressive,” he says. “It’s like it doesn’t even feel like you’re driving a truck.”
There are more plans for expanding his micro-mobility business, in and outside of Halifax. Judging by Rastelli’s enthusiasm, it’s safe to say those plans will include an F-150 Lightning or two.