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Why a Ford Ranger Raptor electric car is unlikely, even though the normal Ranger is set to adopt hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery EV tech

The new Ranger Raptor is far too focused as an off-road performance truck for Ford Performance to develop an electric version.

Ford says it is unlikely to release a full-battery electric vehicle (BEV) version of the T6.2 new-generation Ranger Raptor any time in the near future, electing instead to save the electrified versions for more mundane Ranger grades such as the Wildtrak and Sport.

While hybrid, plug-in hybrid and BEV models have been already confirmed to be either under development or consideration for the regular new-gen Ranger and Everest series, one Ford engineer revealed that the size and weight aspects of a BEV bring too many limitations that clash with the fundamental ethos of the Raptor versions.

The result would diminish much of what Ford Performance has tried to achieve in a Ranger Raptor, with the BEV version’s range, performance, handling, off-road capability, towing capacity, stability and safety all compromised.

The chief culprit is weight, as a BEV’s battery pack adds several hundred extra kilograms to a truck that can typically weigh upwards of two tonnes.

The outgoing Ranger Raptor, for example, already tips the scales at 2342kg (kerb); with the coming replacement expected to weigh considerably more due to its extra bulk, adding the BEV tech could see the scales breach the 3000kg mark.

 

In a weekday workhorse/weekend plaything like a Ranger Wildtrak, that number might not be insurmountable; but in a high-performance truck such as the T6.2 Raptor, all those additional kilos blunt performance and efficiency, flying in the face of what a Ford Performance vehicle is all about.

Then there is the question of packaging and weight distribution within the existing T6.2 chassis frame, since it was designed to use an internal combustion engine (ICE) up front, leaving the rear of the vehicle – and more specifically above the chassis rails but below the load tub – as the only place for the heavy and bulky battery pack to go.

This means going BEV brings three more major disadvantages: firstly, the battery pack reduces physical load capacity; secondly, it drastically cuts the towing capacity of the Raptor, significantly limiting its appeal to those with trailers and caravans; and thirdly, it raises the centre of gravity, upsetting the dynamic balance and putting exponentially greater pressure as well as wear and tear on the suspension, brakes, steering, motor, wheels, tyres and safety systems. Remember, Raptors are meant to be fast off-road rally machines.

Of course, other pure BEV trucks like the Rivian R1T use a so-called skateboard platform with the battery pack neatly integrated low-down within the lightweight chassis superstructure, sidestepping most of the aforementioned compromises while providing additional structural rigidity that helps boost dynamic performance.

Another BEV characteristic that would blight the Raptor experience is how all that extra weight and higher centre of gravity would have a detrimental effect on off-road performance, curtailing its ability to traverse the rough stuff compared to an ICE equivalent. It’s unclear whether Ford would even recommend achieving the airborne speeds that the new 292kW/583Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol version can manage. And it's safe to assume fording a river in a BEV is out of the question as well.

Additionally, the electric motor has to work harder, chewing through more electricity, and thus decimating range, which in turn reduces the actual distances a Raptor BEV can travel before it needs recharging. And, of course, finding a DC charger out in the isolated wilderness can be difficult or near impossible in many countries. Preliminary reports out of North America suggest that real-world range for the F-150 Lightning EV towing a big trailer is a fraction of the official US EPA claim (514km).

That all said, hydrogen-powered EVs known as fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that do away with heavy battery packs should eliminate most of these issues in one stroke, as the weight, packaging, mass distribution and recharging problems are then largely eliminated.

However, even FCEV tech is still years away from being a commercial reality in lifestyle pick-up trucks, and will likely be even more expensive than BEV tech, so don’t hold your breath for that one.  

So, while a Ranger BEV can still make plenty of sense for most buyers, the hardcore Raptor version seems like it would have a much harder time with the same tech. It seems Ford agrees, so expect to see the Ranger Raptor eventually adopt hybrid and/or plug-in hybrid electrification combined with the big V6 petrol engine instead.

When will that happen? Nobody’s saying, but stay tuned because we’ll let you know as soon as we do.