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

By Shawn Knight · 31 replies
Jul 23, 2019
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  1. 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.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,504   +3,897

    It's all very interesting but until they are able to nail down a practical range it's all a mute point ....
  3. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,235   +691

    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.
  4. Lew Zealand

    Lew Zealand TS Guru Posts: 752   +643

    The range isn't even the biggest problem, it's the availability of and time to recharge. It's hard to compete with decades of supply chain refinement.
    loki1944, ShagnWagn and psycros like this.
  5. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 2,270   +1,479

    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.
  6. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 336   +228

    My 2003 F150 is doing just fine thank you very much.
  7. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,778   +2,592

    Bottom line is that its impossible and therefore fake. Not a great way to market your product.
  8. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Maniac Posts: 270   +165

    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.
    Charles Olson likes this.
  9. loki1944

    loki1944 TS Addict Posts: 178   +120

    No sale.
  10. PEnnn

    PEnnn TS Addict Posts: 118   +104

    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.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,504   +5,067

    The problem with Fords are usually the people working on them. That has always been the case.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    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:

    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
    IAMTHESTIG likes this.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    Are you sure it's not the, "loose nut between the steering wheel and the seat"?
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  14. Milkyjoe

    Milkyjoe TS Enthusiast Posts: 37   +16

    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.
  15. Stiqy

    Stiqy TS Enthusiast Posts: 54   +49

    I can hear their point just fine... but it might be a moot point.
  16. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Maniac Posts: 336   +228

    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.
  17. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 412   +127

    Uh...yeah man. You actually went there.
    Charles Olson likes this.
  18. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 412   +127

    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.
  19. Markoni35

    Markoni35 TS Addict Posts: 245   +113

    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:

    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.
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,504   +5,067

    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.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    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..
  22. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,504   +5,067

    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.
    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.
  23. roberthi

    roberthi TS Addict Posts: 412   +127

    Find a truck that can haul my big butt of the couch and we might have a deal.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,072   +4,080

    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.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,504   +5,067

    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"

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