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Ford F-150 Lightning will be 1st all-electric pickup truck to offer full-size spare tire
Detroit Free Press

As the panting and drooling over upcoming all-electric pickups continues to dominate social media chatter among consumers and investors, just about everyone seems to be buzzing about Tesla, Rivian and Ford these days.

Ford revealed the Lightning on May 19 and while details involving the battery and other specs remain elusive, that stops no one from talking about what they do know.
There is one potentially huge accessory the Ford F-150 Lightning will offer that others won't: a full size spare tire.

Not a little bitty doughnut tire that offers just enough support to limp to the nearest tire shop in prayer that it doesn't bust en route, but an actual full-size spare that allows the truck owner to replace and continue with business uninterrupted.

While it may sound trivial, it isn't trivial at all.

Full-size spares aren't unusual on traditional internal combustion engine pickups including the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan. But the all-electric pickup is an entirely new game.

Tesla has not provided spares in its luxury electric vehicles as a standard benefit to date in order to limit weight while also providing free roadside assistance, and the company has said customers don't mind.
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Ford says their customers don't view the truck as a luxury lifestyle product or a toy.
The F-150 is a lifeline for working men and women.

"... A temporary doughnut spare tire won’t work when you’re far from pavement or roadside assistance with places to go and jobs to do," said Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager.

Ted Cannis, CEO of the Ford Pro business and government unit, tweeted on May 24, "When we talked to our customers, they insisted that we fit the full-size spare!"

Early images of the Lightning show the spare neatly tucked under the bed, clearly visible to drivers from the rear. The front trunk, also known as a frunk, is reserved for massive storage.

No one knows truck customers like Ford after nearly half a century of building a bestselling multibillion-dollar brand.

"They didn’t just throw the full spare in on a whim. That's a lot more mass, weight, cost, assembly time. But if that really matters to your customer, you put it in. You have to give the customer what they want," said John McElroy, host of the "Autoline After Hours" webcast and podcast and a veteran industry analyst. "Ford has done an astute job of prioritizing what goes in this truck."
Carlos Guevara Jr. tweeted from his @cargueone account on May 25 that work sites have nails and bolts everywhere, "unlike the perfect paved road most Tesla drivers use when driving."
These Ford F-150 trucks are designed to haul and tow, not loop Hollywood Boulevard or Times Square. (Tesla CEO Elon Musk made headlines and created social media excitement when he was spotted in a Cybertruck prototype in New York City last month before guest hosting "Saturday Night Live.")

The Ford Lightning and Tesla Cybertruck start just below $40,000, less than an average sale of a nonelectric 2021 F-150. Skeptics have worried electric vehicles would be too pricey for the average Joe. The Rivian starts at $67,500. None of the list prices includes emissions incentives.
Meanwhile, the F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T have a targeted EPA of 300 miles. Tesla's Cybertruck has a targeted EPA of 250 miles.

There's been no indication that either Rivian or Tesla will include full-size spares as a standard feature. The Rivian website says small and regular spare tires are optional. And Tesla offers spare tire kits as an option, too.

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While all-electric competitors say they plan to disrupt the highly lucrative pickup market, Ford has said people won't buy an electric truck unless it has better tools and offers more productivity than its nonelectric products.

"If you don't have a full-size spare, you've just lost time quickly getting back on the road and back to work," Levine said. "We know truck customers. They can't stop to fix things when there’s no quick fix. When you look below the skin, Ford approached this like a truck company. But Lightning can do things no other truck can do — like power a home during an outage or at a job site as a mobile generator. That's the key."

Ford customers made headlines during the Texas power outage in February when they used hybrid 2021 F-150s to generate power to keep the lights on and make coffee.

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Ford has spent years studying its consumers' behavior and gathering psychographic intel that guides the 118-year-old automaker.

"Since our roads here and Europe were once all dirt, all autos needed spares, so they were a design feature," said Maeva Ribas, manager of design research and strategy at The CARLAB Inc., an automotive product planning consulting group based in Southern California. "Today, we have mostly paved roads, with exceptions being New York City, Detroit and Los Angeles — which are 50% potholes. Now, only light trucks have spares."

"Considering an EV battery is as big as a bedroom mattress, kudos to Ford for packaging one while still giving real work truck buyers what they need: A spare. Real trucks have real spares," she said. "We don't notice them because they are usually packaged under the bed between two large frame rails."

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Pickups still need full-size spares because they get used by farmers, utility workers, contractors, Ribas said. "The pipeline crew in Alaska doesn't call Auto Club when they get a flat. It would be a big mistake for an EV pickup maker to assume it will be so-called 'personal use' buyers only. That is a temptation, but it's a trap other pickup challengers have fallen into before. Trucks are for work, and real work requires a proper spare tire — lifestyle pickup or not."

Full-size spares in all vehicles were universal until the “space-saver” or doughnut spare tires were introduced, said Jonathan Klinger, vice president of car culture at Traverse City-based Hagerty, the world's largest insurer of collector vehicles.

"In fact, many early cars through the 1920s could have more than one full-size spare tire as tire troubles were far more common during the early days of motoring," he said.

There were temporary bans on spare tires in any new vehicle because of rubber shortages during WWII and the Korean War.

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Separate and apart from the Ford F-150 Lightning, spare tires have played a key role with Ford and other automakers.

"The side mount spare tire — a tire mounted on the front fender — was a common feature into the 1930s," said Matt Anderson, transportation curator at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. "The idea remained on trucks even longer. It was just a convenient space to put the spare — convenient for accessing it, and convenient in that it didn’t take up space in the trunk or truck bed."

'Design cue'

When reviewing archival photos, he said, spare tire history becomes obvious to the classic car aficionado.

"The one true Ford thing is the 'continental kit' spare tire, seen on the back of Lincolns," Anderson said. "That idea goes back to the original Lincoln Continental of 1940-48, hence the name. This put the spare tire in a case mounted on the rear bumper, behind the trunk. It was a design cue used in each generation of Lincoln Continental 'Mark' series cars going into the 1990s."

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Nash Motors used continental kits in the 1950s, but it’s an idea most closely associated with Ford — both because of the Lincoln Continentals and because of its use on the first generation 1955-57 Ford Thunderbirds, Anderson said.

"The spare tire is one of those long-running complications for which automakers have tried to find — but never quite have found — a fully satisfactory solution," he said.

Edsel made him do it

Ted Ryan, Ford's archives and heritage brand manager. said, "(Eugene) "Bob" Gregorie, the designer, wanted to hide the tire but Edsel made him put it in the trunk with the shape visible. It was daring and became a design classic."

And people have been trying to fix the damn roads forever.

"In the early days of the automobile age with the rough and rudimentary roads, spare tires were a necessity because of the threat of a blowout," Ryan said. "The early spares were often visibly stored on the running boards. Edsel Ford famously incorporated the spare into the design of the Continental as form and function were combined. The more sophisticated modern designs have effectively hidden the spare, but its core functionality has not changed in the intervening century."
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xtraman122

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It's funny how you just get nothing from Tesla other than roadside assistance for a flat. I remember talking to my friend who has a Model 3 a few months ago and the conversation went a bit like...

Me: Oh, it doesn't have a spare? Interesting, so it must have run flats then.
Him: No, no run flats, they just offer roadside assistance if you ever get a flat
Me: Good luck!
 

Pedaldude

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I remember watching from a donut shop years ago: a couple tearing the RX8 apart that they were driving in, looking for a spare. It was one of the first cars in North America to be shipped without any spare at all. It's still a ridiculous trend and when I travel, I tend to carry two spares, an old piece of plywood and a hydraulic jack to minimize any time stuck on the side of the road.

With so much distracted driving, I tell everyone to get off the highway and drive slowly on the flat, even if it means destroying the tire. Even emergency vehicles with lights on are getting hit by truck drivers surfing Facebook and porn.

One other thing not mentioned about the Lightning is that with the conventional space for a spare between the frame horns retained and now with the huge empty space up front where the engine and accessories once were, with Ford only using the area under the cab for battery storage, the Lightning stands to have even more inexpensive collision repair costs than the conventional F-150; since Ford sells replacement frame horns for crash damaged ones. So, for minor bumper to bumper collisions, the truck won't be totaled and everyone with an F-150 will enjoy lower insurance costs.

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It's funny how you just get nothing from Tesla other than roadside assistance for a flat. I remember talking to my friend who has a Model 3 a few months ago and the conversation went a bit like...

Me: Oh, it doesn't have a spare? Interesting, so it must have run flats then.
Him: No, no run flats, they just offer roadside assistance if you ever get a flat
Me: Good luck!
This is pretty much par for the course, now. Mach E doesn't have runflats or a spare. BMW i3 doesn't have runflats or a spare. Teslas don't have runflats or a spare.
 

ChasingCoral

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Even emergency vehicles with lights on are getting hit by truck drivers surfing Facebook and porn.
And by Teslas on Autopilot. Lots of incidents of those hitting parked cars and semis, even parked Police cars.
 

ChasingCoral

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This is pretty much par for the course, now. Mach E doesn't have runflats or a spare. BMW i3 doesn't have runflats or a spare. Teslas don't have runflats or a spare.
Mustang Mach E does have a 12v inflator with the option to inflate or repair with a built-in cylinder of fix-a-flat like compound.
 

Blainestang

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Mustang Mach E does have a 12v inflator with the option to inflate or repair with a built-in cylinder of fix-a-flat like compound.
Yeah, same with the i3. Fix-a-flat and Teslas don't mix due to the sound-reducing foam inserts in the tires. Compressor would be a good idea for $20, though.
 

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It's funny how you just get nothing from Tesla other than roadside assistance for a flat. I remember talking to my friend who has a Model 3 a few months ago and the conversation went a bit like...

Me: Oh, it doesn't have a spare? Interesting, so it must have run flats then.
Him: No, no run flats, they just offer roadside assistance if you ever get a flat
Me: Good luck!
Neither does my Miata, it's not uncommon.
 

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Thanks for the article!

I would have considered it a silly demand or must-have in casual conversation, but after reading this it could be a make or break for the electric truck buyer. The Tesla and Mach E drivers are likely carrying passengers or groceries and despite the inconvenience of waiting for assistance are likely to be in a populated area without a customer waiting on them who may decide whether or not to continue doing business with them based off of one delay. You can also find a rental car for passengers and groceries that you can lift and transfer yourself, than a bed full of lumber, bricks, etc.

Now, most EV customers have not been using them for commercial work, but Ford has clearly made a commercial work version. The considerations Ford has taken into account towards making electric vehicles a practicality and not some art school student's stab at a deconstructed flying steel trapezoid are what could actually make them a viable alternative vehicle choice. There are enough problems with switching everyone to electric vehicles--I think 50-80% would be huge--without adding esoteric to the list.
 

shutterbug

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It's funny how you just get nothing from Tesla other than roadside assistance for a flat. I remember talking to my friend who has a Model 3 a few months ago and the conversation went a bit like...

Me: Oh, it doesn't have a spare? Interesting, so it must have run flats then.
Him: No, no run flats, they just offer roadside assistance if you ever get a flat
Me: Good luck!
Keep in mind that Ford also includes roadside assistance. The spare is on top of that.
 

beatle

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Neither does my Miata, it's not uncommon.
I actually took the spares out of my Miatas to reclaim a significant amount of trunk room. I carry a compressor and tire slime in my Model S. My Ridgeline has a full size spare, but I've never used it. Motorcycles have no spares. :)

Truck owners are a pretty diverse group. Some may want the spare, some may not care. It's nice that Ford offers a spare, though I wonder if they could put more utilitarian storage onboard without it.
 

Lightning.Dav

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Ford F-150 Lightning will be 1st all-electric pickup truck to offer full-size spare tire
Detroit Free Press

There is one potentially huge accessory the Ford F-150 Lightning will offer that others won't: a full size spare tire.
Strange statement. Go into the Rivian configurator today. You can add a full size spare to the pickup.

The R1S SUV is shorter and can only have a donut. But the R1T pickup can be ordered with a full size spare.
 
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Wolf Man

Wolf Man

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Strange statement. Go into the Rivian configurator today. You can add a full size spare to the pickup.

The R1S SUV is shorter and can only have a donut. But the R1T pickup can be ordered with a full size spare.
I just copied the headline and article from the Detroit Free Press. It was written by Phoebe Howard. She's usually pretty accurate with her stories. Maybe she missed that or Rivian added as an option after her story already went to press.
 
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