Photo courtesy of Matt Case
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Florida county fleet manager talks Ford Lightning deployment

June 3, 2024
A year ago, Manatee County in Florida began trialing the electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup trucks. Fleet division manager Matt Case discusses how they have fared.

Manatee County, an idyllic slice of the Florida gulf coast between Tampa and Sarasota, took delivery of five Ford F-150 Lightning pickups last year for various jobs in utilities, public safety, parks and natural resources, and property management. In April, Matt Case, the county’s fleet division manager, fielded questions from Frank Raczon, senior editor at Construction Equipment, a Fleet Maintenance affiliate, on the experience so far.

Frank Raczon: What are the drivers assigned to these electric pickups saying about them?

Matt Case: Everybody who gets assigned to them loves them. They love how quiet they are, how efficient they are, and how they’re doing their part to protect the environment. It’s been very successful. We’ve gotten nothing but good news from them.

FR: How are you tracking fuel savings?

MC: When we reach a full year, we will take that class of truck and compare it to the identical class with a fossil fuel set-up. We’re going to take the electric cost—which is done right through the Ford telematics app—and calculate the cost per mile. Preliminarily, it’s substantially less. [We do] have to account for additional acquisition costs of the vehicle, they do cost more. We included the price of actual charging unit into the price of truck in there, too.

We bought the Ford charger through Ford Pro, not the premium one, but the basic charger, because we wanted to keep it simple. The vehicle is going to tell us everything we need to do that the charger would.

FR: And what is maintenance like?

MC: We have an annual preventive maintenance program for our pickups. The first service is not due on this vehicle for 20,000 miles. At that time it only needs an A/C filter and an inspection. That’s it. We wrote in our PM program to replace wiper blades, the A/C filter, and to inspect them. In under an hour they will be back on the road. We’re creeping up around 10,000 to 11,000 miles now.

Only one Lightning needed unplanned maintenance. That was due to a no-fault collision and it was quickly repaired. The total fleet availability is 99.7%.

FR: Have you noticed excessive tire wear at all?

MC: Right now, we are seeing normal tire wear. And that’s with a networking event where we let everyone drive it around to maximum capacity—it’s got lots of power.

But because of the batteries, they are heavier vehicles. We are monitoring that. Right now they are about half worn at 11,000 [miles]. I don’t think that’s terrible. A normal double cab with four-wheel drive lasts around 25,000 to 30,000 miles. As long as we’re maintaining air pressure correctly and don’t have an aggressive driver with lots of harsh acceleration and braking, they should be fine. Towing a lot would also wear tires down.

FR: Do you have plans to acquire more?

MC: For fiscal year 2024, we ordered two more. We have got one in and waiting on the other, since there are some production delays they are addressing. FY25, we are looking at hybrids, more F-150s and Silverado EVs, and Telsa Model 3’s and Y’s for administrative use. 

For more thoughts from Case, visit ConstructionEquipment.com.

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Fleet Maintenance staff

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