Ford's all-electric F-150 prototype tows 1.25 million pound train

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

In the clip below, Ford tasks an all-electric F-150 prototype with towing 10 double decker freight cars carrying a total of 42 F-150 trucks (one for each of the 42 straight years the F-Series has been the best-selling truck in America). In total, we’re looking at 1.25 million pounds.

This wasn’t simply a snatch and grab job; Ford managed to pull the loaded railyard carts a distance of 1,000 feet.

Before getting any similar ideas of your own, the fine print notes that the prototype is towing far beyond any production truck’s published capacity and that you should never tow beyond a vehicle’s towing capacity.

A Tesla Model X P100D was used to tow a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in a publicity stunt last year.

F-150 Chief Engineer Linda Zhang said the prototype will help Ford deliver the all-electric F-150 in the coming years. They're also working on a fully electric, Mustang-inspired SUV that could rival other top SUVs like the aforementioned Model X and the Hellcat-powered Jeep Trackhawk.

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mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
1.25 million pounds is 566,990.4625 KG, lets round that to 567,000 KG
4.5 MPH is 7.24205 KPH, lets round that to 7.25 K/H = 2.0138 M/S

Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2.

This F-150 imparted approximately 1,149,804.68 Joules of energy into this train, or 1.15 MJ.

Lithium-ion batteries have a peak energy density of approximately 2.43 MJ/L, and a minimum of 0.9 MJ/L. Ignoring friction, that is one big freaking battery at 0.47-1.27 liters. Just to get the train up to speed. It probably needed to be even larger just to do it without catching fire.
 

amstech

IT Overlord
I like Ford, and their truck line-up.
The 'best-selling' nonsense is a little silly, Fords have the least longterm durability, mostly due to the frames rotting out and other related build quality issues.
When I spent 30K on my 16 Sierra Elevation a year ago I almost bit on a 2016 F150 XLT with the 5.0, as the aluminum body is quite attractive for Upstate, NY winters, but the jury is still out on them. It looks like they are holding up good though.
Far as the article, I am not sure on the exact year so my apologies, but by 2030, or something along those lines 1/2 pickup trucks need to hit 30MPH or there is a massive tax/penalty.
 

TheBigT42

TS Maniac
I like Ford, and their truck line-up.
The 'best-selling' nonsense is a little silly, Fords have the least longterm durability, mostly due to the frames rotting out and other related build quality issues.
When I spent 30K on my 16 Sierra Elevation a year ago I almost bit on a 2016 F150 XLT with the 5.0, as the aluminum body is quite attractive for Upstate, NY winters, but the jury is still out on them. It looks like they are holding up good though.
Far as the article, I am not sure on the exact year so my apologies, but by 2030, or something along those lines 1/2 pickup trucks need to hit 30MPH or there is a massive tax/penalty.
My 2003 F150 is doing just fine thank you very much.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
1.25 million pounds is 566,990.4625 KG, lets round that to 567,000 KG
4.5 MPH is 7.24205 KPH, lets round that to 7.25 K/H = 2.0138 M/S

Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2.

This F-150 imparted approximately 1,149,804.68 Joules of energy into this train, or 1.15 MJ.

Lithium-ion batteries have a peak energy density of approximately 2.43 MJ/L, and a minimum of 0.9 MJ/L. Ignoring friction, that is one big freaking battery at 0.47-1.27 liters. Just to get the train up to speed. It probably needed to be even larger just to do it without catching fire.
Bottom line is that its impossible and therefore fake. Not a great way to market your product.
 

gamerk2

TS Maniac
1.25 million pounds is 566,990.4625 KG, lets round that to 567,000 KG
4.5 MPH is 7.24205 KPH, lets round that to 7.25 K/H = 2.0138 M/S

Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2.

This F-150 imparted approximately 1,149,804.68 Joules of energy into this train, or 1.15 MJ.

Lithium-ion batteries have a peak energy density of approximately 2.43 MJ/L, and a minimum of 0.9 MJ/L. Ignoring friction, that is one big freaking battery at 0.47-1.27 liters. Just to get the train up to speed. It probably needed to be even larger just to do it without catching fire.
Bottom line is that its impossible and therefore fake. Not a great way to market your product.
It's quite possible; it's multiple battery cells. If anything, Trucks are better targets for electrification as there's more physical space to stuff additional battery cells.
 
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PEnnn

TS Addict
Bought 2 Ford cars the last 20 years and both were problem-ridden lemons

And, the Ford I rented once died suddenly on me in the middle of a 4 lane highway!! Those "coincidences" are just too much...

So, Ford?? No thanks, never again.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
OK kidz, here's the dealio:

1: Electric motors develop their maximum torque at stall. Starting at stopped train, is the most effective, (read, "greatest advertising benefit"), venue for displaying their obvious, (and what should be common knowledge), strong points.

2: The simple fact of the matter is, "diesel locomotives", are already "electric". So it should come as no surprise when an electric powered vehicle can pull a train.

In a locomotive, a diesel engine powers a generator, which supplies electricity to the motors which turn the wheels.

Nothing to see here folks, this is just a elaborate advertising stunt. You could yank the diesel out of a locomotive, then fill the space with batteries, and accomplish the same damned thing, period.

FWIW, an electric motor will develop limitless power at stall, until you either run out of electricity, or the motor explodes.

And BTW, the locomotive doesn't pull the train. The locomotive pulls the first car, which pulls the second car, and so forth.

Which is why, if you ever see a large train pulling out you'll first hear a lot lot of noise coming from the couplers. You back the engine into the train, to put slack in all the couplers, and then, go forward.

Not only that, but they've been doing it for well over a century:

On May 10, 1869, a golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah, signaling the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. The transcontinental railroad had long been a dream for people living in the American West.

(OK so all that may be news to some of you. Sadly, it shouldn't be).

Oh look, electric locomotives that Musk can't take credit for and didn't need batteries:

 
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Milkyjoe

TS Enthusiast
1.25 million pounds is 566,990.4625 KG, lets round that to 567,000 KG
4.5 MPH is 7.24205 KPH, lets round that to 7.25 K/H = 2.0138 M/S

Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2.

This F-150 imparted approximately 1,149,804.68 Joules of energy into this train, or 1.15 MJ.

Lithium-ion batteries have a peak energy density of approximately 2.43 MJ/L, and a minimum of 0.9 MJ/L. Ignoring friction, that is one big freaking battery at 0.47-1.27 liters. Just to get the train up to speed. It probably needed to be even larger just to do it without catching fire.
Wouldnt the wheels just spin since the truck's weight wouldn't be enough downforce on the tires.
Also when she said time to come to a stop, how did the train stop they just cut to the next scene.
 

TheBigT42

TS Maniac
Bought 2 Ford cars the last 20 years and both were problem-ridden lemons

And, the Ford I rented once died suddenly on me in the middle of a 4 lane highway!! Those "coincidences" are just too much...

So, Ford?? No thanks, never again.
The issue is Ford CARS do suck. I have had great experiences with their Trucks. I guess that is why Ford is stopping production on cars.
 

roberthi

TS Addict
1.25 million pounds is 566,990.4625 KG, lets round that to 567,000 KG
4.5 MPH is 7.24205 KPH, lets round that to 7.25 K/H = 2.0138 M/S

Kinetic energy = 0.5 * mass * velocity^2.

This F-150 imparted approximately 1,149,804.68 Joules of energy into this train, or 1.15 MJ.

Lithium-ion batteries have a peak energy density of approximately 2.43 MJ/L, and a minimum of 0.9 MJ/L. Ignoring friction, that is one big freaking battery at 0.47-1.27 liters. Just to get the train up to speed. It probably needed to be even larger just to do it without catching fire.
Uh...yeah man. You actually went there.
 
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roberthi

TS Addict
So...the next time I want to tow my jetliner or train, I'll consider one of these. Until then, I'll be fine with what I have.
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
Wouldnt the wheels just spin since the truck's weight wouldn't be enough downforce on the tires.
Also when she said time to come to a stop, how did the train stop they just cut to the next scene.
That's what I thought too. I mean about the braking. Once the train is on the move, it takes some time to stop. Even if it's slow, it won't stop immediately, because there's no locomotive to power the air brakes.

OTOH, pulling the train is not that hard. I've seen relatively small tractors doing it. You even have a man who has pulled a 150-ton train using just his legs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP00VmKx_No

That's because railway cars have a very low friction, which makes them very efficient. Which is the main advantage of trains over trucks. Pulling is not a problem, but how did they stop? Seems there was some video editing there.
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Even if it's slow, it won't stop immediately, because there's no locomotive to power the air brakes.
If the train is the same as big trucks, the locomotive would be needed to unlock the brakes. Without air the brakes would be locked. It is safer this way since, if you rupture a line the wheels will lockup.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
If the train is the same as big trucks, the locomotive would be needed to unlock the brakes. Without air the brakes would be locked. It is safer this way since, if you rupture a line the wheels will lockup.
That could easily be remedied / faked, (you pick), with a gas powered compressor, along the lines (no pun intended), of the type used by cities streets and water departments to run jackhammers.

Something which hasn't been considered, is the grade the train was on when this "trial" was made. As little as 1/8 of 1 % down grade, could make a huge difference in the outcome. Sure, to the naked eye it would look dead flat, but perhaps not so much to a good builder's level or surveyor's transit..
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
That could easily be remedied / faked, (you pick), with a gas powered compressor
I know this, that wasn't what I was commenting on. What I was commenting on was needing an air source to APPLY the brakes. I'm thinking that is wrong.
Something which hasn't been considered, is the grade the train was on when this "trial" was made. As little as 1/8 of 1 % down grade
Yep. I hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it. But road pitch and wind is why they drive both directions for distance speed records.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
I know this, that wasn't what I was commenting on. What I was commenting on was needing an air source to APPLY the brakes. I'm thinking that is wrong....[ ]....
Well Cliff, I suffered through most of this (*): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_air_brake and I think it's only fair that you do the same.

Both of us being technically minded individuals, I think we should embrace and applaud the creations of our "elders". After all, an SSD won't be bringing either of us food for dinner, but a train might.

(*) OK, I lied. I skimmed it. But I'm going back to finish it tonight. I know, you're thinking "but it's Saturday"? Dude, I'm 70, and this is my idea of a good time.
 
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cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Well Cliff, I suffered through most of this (*): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_air_brake and I think it's only fair that you do the same.
My suspicions were confirmed within the second paragraph. I didn't see a need in scrolling the page.
"The Westinghouse system uses air pressure to charge air reservoirs (tanks) on each car. Full air pressure signals each car to release the brakes. A reduction or loss of air pressure signals each car to apply its brakes, using the compressed air in its reservoirs"