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Ford asks Texas dealers to loan out F-150s with generators during outages

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Ford Motor Co. is mobilizing its dealer network in Texas to help those affected by widespread power outages during unusually frigid weather.

The automaker on Thursday sent a letter to retailers in the state asking them to loan 2021 F-150 pickups from inventory to residents without electricity so they can use the trucks’ onboard generators to power homes. Ford is offering the dealers $600 more than normal to put any F-150 with the Pro Power Onboard feature into loaner fleets.

Ford says there are currently about 415 generator-equipped pickups on Texas dealers’ lots. The trucks still can be sold to retail customers during an upcoming “Truck Month” promotion in March, the letter said.

“For well over a century, Ford Motor Co. and our dealer partners have been there to support and serve our communities in time of need,” the letter said. “Our Texas communities need all the support they can get right now. You can make a significant difference in our community by providing assistance during these very tough times.”

The redesigned F-150, which went on sale in late 2020, offers a 2-kilowatt generator as an option with all gasoline engines except the base 3.3-liter V-6. The F-150 hybrid comes standard with a 2.4-kilowatt generator that will run for 85 hours on a full tank of gas at maximum load. A 7.2-kilowatt system that will last for 32 hours under max load conditions is optional on the hybrid.

The generators can be accessed via standard 120-volt outlets in the bed. Ford has said even the least powerful generator is strong enough to power heaters, TVs, blenders, minifridges or other accessories one might use for camping or at a tailgate.

Ford spokesman Mike Levine on Thurday shared a social media post via Twitter from someone who received an F-150 from Holiday Ford in Whitesboro, Texas, to power a furnace and increased the temperature of their home from 47 degrees to 64 degrees. Holiday Ford did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Due to the urgent and unprecedented weather situation in Texas, a number of our local dealers are using all-new Ford F-150s equipped with Pro Power Onboard to help in their communities,” Ford said in a statement Thursday. “We’re proud to pitch in to help Texas in this time of need.”

Some recent F-150 buyers in Texas have been glad they got a truck with the onboard generator. Randy Jones, 66, has used his new F-150 hybrid to power his home for four straight days.

A retired refinery worker who lives in Katy, Texas, Jones told Automotive News on Thursday that he purchased the new vehicle this month and specifically chose a model with the 7.2-kilowatt generator. He assumed he might need it to power his home during hurricane season.

“I wasn’t expecting to use it this soon,” he said.

Once his power went out late Sunday night, Jones ran extension cords from the truck to the house, plugging in a refrigerator, television, toaster, coffee pot and other appliances.

He said the truck performed flawlessly, using only about six or seven gallons of gas while running from about 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. He said some of his neighbors have used the truck to charge phones and tablets.

“I’m thrilled to death over it,” he said. “Everything I wanted I plugged in. If I had more splitters I would have plugged more in.”

Jones posted about the truck in an online owners forum where others shared similar tales. It caught the attention of Ford CEO Jim Farley, who retweeted a story about Jones and said he wished everyone in Texas had the trucks.

Ford in its letter to dealers Thursday said those who shared stories about how the pickup is helping Texas residents would be entered into a drawing, and five stores would be selected to receive five additional F-150s in their next allocation.

Ford has said the trucks are selling almost as quickly as they reach dealer lots.