The outside screams 2010 F-150 but under the hood … well, it doesn’t say much of anything.
Ecotuned, an electric conversion startup based in Montreal, gutted a 2010 F-150 and replaced the gasoline-fired stock engine with a 360 volt battery bank that pushes 214 hp and 280 ft.-lb torque through the truck’s two speed transmission.
I strapped into the truck for a quick spin around the streets of Montreal Wednesday during Michelin’s Movin’ On global sustainable mobility summit and the first thing that hits you is the torque – literally.
If you hit the accelerator, the truck hits back and pins you to your seat. While the Ecotuned upfit actually provides a little less than the 294 ft.-lb from Ford’s stock 4.6 liter from 2010, electric motors offer maximum torque the second you press the accelerator. The Ecotuned prototype was software-limited to a nearly-stock-just-under 300 ft.-lb., but the truck’s torque potential is nearly limitless – so limitless that the company says before they capped it, they were twisting transmission mainshafts more than an inch-and-a-half thick.
The batteries add only 6 percent curb weight (5,815 lbs.) to the truck, with 30 percent of the battery weight going toward the front and the other 70 percent of the weight dipping just below the frame rails toward the rear. This improves the truck’s handling in corners, but does reduce ground clearance by about an inch versus a stock F-150 from the same model year.
The fully-electric truck takes about 6 hours to fully recharge but that will only get you a range of about 87 miles.
Even though it’s a prototype model, the truck uses an amazing amount of stock components. Ecotuned engineers, who call themselves “car guys” say it was important to them that the truck still look and feel like a truck. Basically, everything other than the driveline are Ford stock, including the 4×4 truck’s transfer case. The driver’s-side mounted charging port is borrowed from a Ford Fusion.
It uses the same stock steering column gear shifter and it feels mostly similar to just about every other F-150 you’ve ever been in. It just doesn’t sound like one. Quietly whizzing through the streets of urban Montreal, you could easily hear the conversations of pedestrians on their cell phones as the truck passed them by.
All the gauges are retrofitted to the electric system, and the fuel gauge serves as the battery level indicator (because, of course it does).
Different battery packs are available to extend the range, especially if you’re wanting to use all your instantaneous torque to tow a trailer.
The upfits range from model year 2010-2014 because the company is targeting fleets who turn their trucks over about every 5 years. They say it’s more economical to drive your gasoline F-150 through its lifecycle then convert it to electric – a $25,000 and two day project – than it is to auction it off and buy a new one.
Over the course of the electric motor’s 1 million kilometer (about 621,000 miles) life, thanks to the fact that it will never need fuel, Ecotuned president Andy Ta says payback is generally less than three years.
With a range limitation of under 100 miles and a sticker price that’s only about $5,000 less than a new base fleet spec’d F-150, the Ecotuned retrofit won’t make a strong business case for everybody. However, if your fleet trucks are running short, urban routes, you can convert seven trucks cheaper than you can buy six new ones.