I recently found a small Ford F-150 Lightning outside. Based on his size, I think he must be around 6-8 weeks old. Just a pup. Old enough that he doesn’t need to be with his mama truck, but still too young to be roaming on his own without his fellow lobos. So, I took him inside and gave him a bath. He’s obviously not feral, and didn’t bite me or anything.
After he was cleaned and dry, I took him to the kitchen to get a snack. Unfortunately, he wasn’t terribly well-behaved and jumped up on the counter! Plus, when I pet the little guy, he changed colors, which is weird.
He’s such a cute little guy, though, so I couldn’t punish him. I gave his cute little fenders a squeeze, and he changed colors again, and shrunk a little. He was looking a little blue, and was smaller than my water bottle. Plus, his wheels changed.
No, I Wasn’t On Drugs. Ford Sent Me To The Metaverse!
I should probably mention at this point that I was using Ford’s new F-150 Lightning Strike Anywhere web app on my phone. Normally, you’d probably want to use the app outside or in your garage to see what a Lightning would look like in your driveway or garage. When you zoom it to full size, you can basically get the experience of walking around and even looking inside the truck.
Here’s what it looked like when I zoomed the truck back to full size in my kitchen and then walked inside.
Best of all, you don’t need to use a VR or augmented reality headset to view the Lightning Strike Anywhere app. You bring it up on your phone, and then you can use the phone like a magic window while you walk around the vehicle and check it out. If it seems like it’s a little too big or too small, you can pinch the truck or expand it and it will adjust size. You can also push it around and move it to just the right spot.
In my case, I’m a big kid, so I really just enjoyed playing with a little toy truck. “What is this, a truck for cats?” I said, as my wife rolled her eyes. “The truck needs to be at least three times this size!”
It did give me a good look at different aspects of the truck. For one thing, it’s pretty clear that the bed is rather short, which is common for 4-door half-ton pickups these days. The interior (at normal size, of course) does seem to be pretty nice. I could see myself taking camping trips in it, driving the kids to school, and maybe buying lumber…
And really, that’s the point of this web app, to convince people that the truck looks good in their driveway and would be useful for their needs (and wants).
Outside of the augmented reality feature, it also allows people to learn about the vehicle’s features, what it’s like to charge it, and many other things, but that wasn’t nearly as fun as playing with the virtual truck.
But Seriously, This Is A Small Taste Of Future Marketing
This may seem like a silly little web app, but it shows just how the “metaverse” is going to be important to marketing in the future. By allowing people to experience a product, even a little bit, from home takes a lot of the work out of selling it. You don’t have to get people to take time out of their busy lives and go to a car dealer or a store to try it out. Plus, in most test drives, you don’t get to see it in your garage (and you don’t ever take a car from the dealer and bring it into your kitchen).
We’re probably going to see these VR and AR experiences get more and more realistic as the technology improves and people start to have more advanced hardware. Phone hardware is a great start, but AR glasses could likely give a much more realistic 3D view of the vehicle. VR glasses can give more realistic interactive experiences, especially if combined with tactile hardware.
I Also Learned A Lot About Ford F-150 Lightning Buyers
While I was giving the little truck a bath, he also told me about the people who buy F-150 Lightnings. Or, it might have come from a Ford press release. Yeah, it came from a Ford press release. I need to quit telling tall tales.
But seriously, we learned a few cool facts from Ford that came from a survey of F-150 Lightning reservation holders:
- Nearly 80% of F-150 Lightning reservation holders have never owned an EV before.
- More than half have never owned a Ford.
- California, Texas, and Florida have the highest number of reservations per state.
“Americans have trusted Ford trucks for years and now they are trusting F-150 to be their first battery-electric vehicle,” said Darren Palmer, general manager, Ford battery-electric vehicles. “It’s our job to continue engaging them and answering their questions about what the ownership experience will be like – which I guarantee is like nothing they’ve ever had before.”
One big takeaway we can take away from these figures is that electric trucks are going to make a big impact on EV adoption. Many people have been interested in EVs, but they didn’t want a sedan or small SUV. In the United States, the Ford F-150 isn’t just the most popular truck for the past several decades, but the most popular vehicle, period. By making an electric version available, Ford made it possible to expand the EV market to many new buyers, even buyers who haven’t owned a Ford before.
Another big thing is that brand loyalties are up for grabs right now. Normally, people want to stick with something they’re familiar with, but when there’s a big shift in the industry, people are more willing to follow the technology than the brands. This enabled Tesla to gain a foothold at all, and it’s going to allow the companies going into electric trucks first to grab the most customers while it’s a free for all of brand loyalty.
Ford, Rivian, and possibly Tesla have a big lead on this, while GM and Stellantis are falling behind. If the other companies (including Tesla) are smart, they’ll get their trucks to market and onto lots where potential buyers can test drive them ASAP.
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