The former Top Gear host, journalist and now hobby farmer is famously anti-electric cars – but after years of hating on EVs, he’s admitted that one has finally changed his mind.
The car in question? The Ford F-150 Lightning, the all-electric version of the American brand’s best-selling pickup truck. After reviewing the car and driving it around his farm in the Cotswolds (the subject of his TV series, Clarkson’s Farm), the notoriously curmudgeonly and conservative motoring expert was won over.
“I’ve always hated two things in life. Pick-up trucks and electrical power. This is a car that combines both and I absolutely love it. Which is a measure of just how deeply impressive it is,” Clarkson says in his column in The Times. Clarkson’s no huge fan of America or American cars either, which lends even more credence to his praise.
What’s precipitated this about-face? Well, from Clarkson’s perspective, because trucks/utes are appliances rather than sports cars, it doesn’t really matter what powers them. As he puts it:
“A car without an engine has no soul so, to me, it’s no more interesting than a deep freezer or a toaster. But the pick-up truck is a tool and, frankly, I don’t really care what makes it move about. Just so long as it does so well, and cheaply.”Jeremy Clarkson
Maybe that’s a back-handed compliment, but it’s a compliment nonetheless.
In classic Clarkson style, he’s also a fan of its speed and power: “it can carry nearly a tonne in the boot and tow a four-tonne trailer… Yet, in Sport mode, the top-of-the-range version [of this] three-tonne leviathan accelerates from 0-60mph in 4.0 seconds. It’s as fast as a Ferrari F40.”
While he doesn’t like the fact that “the steering wheel is on the wrong side” and explains that it’s a bit too big for his farm (as well as English laneways), he was ultimately impressed by the hefty EV truck.
Ford has been the first major auto maker to embrace electrification in its commercial vehicles. The Blue Oval has also come up with an electric version of its best-selling Transit van, which will be Ford’s first EV in many markets, including Australia.
As alluded to above, Ford currently has no plans to make the F-150 Lightning in right-hand drive, meaning Brits and Aussies will miss out on being able to get the electric truck for themselves.
That said, Ford faces stiff competition from smaller EV-only brands: American start-up Rivian (which Ford owns an 11.4% stake in) has made waves with its impressive R1T pickup, and is currently developing a electric delivery van exclusively for Amazon, which owns an 18.1% stake in Rivian).
Of course, Tesla is also developing its Cybertruck, which is now set to enter production in mid-2023 – although they’ve pushed back production quite a few times by now…