Ford F-150 Hybrid can recharge all-electric vehicles in an emergency

Phoebe Wall Howard
Detroit Free Press

Guys with pickup trucks always brag about coming to the rescue.

They pull cars out of ditches during snowstorms. They haul furniture on moving day.

And, we learned during the Texas storms in February, a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid can even power a house during an electrical outage and provide heat, refrigeration and fresh coffee.

Pickup owners often say the fastest way to make new friends is to own a truck.

These days, during the recent flooding throughout the U.S. — including Michigan, Florida and New York — consumers are wondering about when electricity is lost and the all-electric car in the garage runs on a battery that requires a charge.

2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid can recharge an all-electric vehicle.

Well, now you know.

Ford F-150 Hybrid can charge electric cars that have run out of juice. 

"Instead of using a tow truck to haul an electric car to a charger, why not just bring the charger directly to the car?" Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager, told the Free Press on Friday.

"As long as you charge at 30 amps or less and have the correct charging adapter for the electric car, the 7.2 Kw Pro Power Onboard can recharge an electric car like it can power various tools and appliances," he said, noting that the Ford owners' manual provides necessary details. "We’ve received questions occasionally on this. I think it’s a surprise to some new EV consumers."

Electric vehicle owners have manuals that explain how fast they can recharge at different amps. In January, gave a tutorial on how to recharge a Tesla Model 3 with an F-150 Hybrid.

During the power outage amid frigid temperatures, Aaron Lewis borrowed a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid truck with Pro Power Onboard from AutoNation Ford Katy on Tuesday, February 16 and took this picture the following morning as it continued to power his space heaters and air fryer.

If you have a home charging station, that would charge faster. But in a pinch, an F-150 Hybrid can keep a friend from being stranded.

Readers of the Free Press emailed a link to a YouTube video posted by auto news and reviews site showing how an F-150 Hybrid can charge another vehicle and asked for additional confirmation. That's what inspired this article.

In the video posted July 4, senior reporter Tommy Mica drives a 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV that "turtles." His father, site publisher Roman Mica, provided permission to the Free Press to post the video. Andre Smirnov, managing editor of the site, drives the F-150 in the video.

“We were seeing how far the electric car could go on a single charge," Tommy Mica told the Free Press on Friday. "We also wanted to see how the new Ford F-150 hybrid could recharge a dead electric car. It’s an idea we’ve had for quite some time. We're big electric car enthusiasts."

Auto reporter Tommy Mica, seen here Friday outside his office in Boulder, Colorado, created a video for that illustrates how a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid can charge an all-electric vehicle.

The hybrid truck is essentially a big powerful generator, "almost like roadside assistance," he said. "For the most part, people are pretty excited. It's not as simple as filling a gasoline car up, but it's cool there is a solution. A lot of people see electricity as the future."

Tommy Mica and his partner actually loaded up the Chevrolet onto a flatbed trailer towed by the F-150 and recharged it while towing it home. "We got home in an hour and a half and had enough juice to drive it to be refilled."

A hybrid combines at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to move the car, and its system recaptures energy via regenerative braking, Car and Driver wrote in a 2019 explanation of hybrid technology. "Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it's the gas engine, and sometimes they work together. The result is less gasoline burned and, therefore, better fuel economy. Adding electric power can even boost performance in certain instances."

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Melissa Bradley, a business professor at Georgetown University, said she is no longer surprised by the latest feature in the F-150.

"Once again, Ford is thinking outside the box and allowing folks to expand their definition of car," she said. "Creating vehicles that do more than transport you from place to place is real life hack."

Bradley, Lindsay and Aaron Lewis, pictured here on December 20, 2020 in Houston, Texas, borrowed a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid truck with Pro Power Onboard from AutoNation Ford Katy to heat the house during the mid-February blackout.

While charging electric cars could be a feature that relieves anxiety for new all-electric car owners learning to transition from traditional gasoline, it's part of an overall commitment to more power access period, said veteran industry observer John McElroy, host of the "Autoline After Hours" webcast and podcast.

"One of the trends in the truck segment is for more power outlets in the cab and the bed," he said. "Owners can plug in everything from band saws to plasma cutters. They can even run their house if the grid goes down. It’s a great upsell because truck owners really like the idea that their truck can ride to the rescue and solve so many problems."

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Karl Brauer, executive analyst at, a car listing and data site, said Ford dominates innovation in pickups and this latest development helps explain why the F-Series is America's bestselling truck.

"The purpose of a truck is to enable work. That work initially came in the form of moving things around, but in recent years it included powering things at worksites," he said. "Now the F-150 Hybrid offers not just mobile power, but clean, quiet, abundant mobile power, all packaged in a way that doesn’t intrude on the truck’s initial purpose — providing cargo space to move things around. This is the next stage of how trucks help their owners get work done."

Karl Brauer, then-executive editor of Kelley Blue Book, is standing beside a 2020 Hyundai Sonata at a broadcast studio on November 26th, 2019 in Los Angeles. He praised Ford for its innovation with the F-150 Hybrid.

Using internal combustion as a source of EV charging power isn’t new, as the dominant player in electric car sales did so early on, Brauer noted.

"There’s a long history of Tesla using diesel generators to power EV charging stations, which even the least imaginative person can recognize as somewhat contradictory to the purpose of an electric vehicle," he said. "However, in the case of the Ford F-150 hybrid you have a relatively clean source of energy — the EcoBoost engine — storing additional energy in the hybrid’s battery pack. And whether that energy is used to power a circular saw or an electric vehicle, the highly flexible and portable nature of the F-150’s battery pack reflects where the industry is going."

More:Demand soars for Ford's electric F-150 Lightning: 100,000 pre-orders placed

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard: 313-222-6512 her on Twitter@phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.