Lebanon goes electric with new city truck

·3 min read

Aug. 31—Around Lebanon City Hall these days, the buzz about the city's new pickup truck is downright electric.

On Thursday, the city is taking delivery of one of the first Ford F150 "Lightning" electric pickup trucks in the country.

Tad Montgomery, Lebanon's energy and facilities manager, said he expects the new truck will become a sort of "demonstration vehicle" for city departments.

Part of the draw is the electric pickup's capacity to act as a generator, providing power at remote sites, Montgomery said. That opens up some intriguing possibilities for city recreational events such as concerts, he said.

The truck will make its debut at Thursday's farmers market. "I'm expecting quite a crowd," Montgomery said.

They've also been invited to show off the new Lightning at the Kearsarge-Sunapee Region EV Expo in New London on Sept. 24.

Montgomery is picking up the truck Thursday morning from Lebanon Ford, where there's a waiting list of more than 150 would-be customers for the new F150 Lightning, according to salesman Jordan Eastman. "We have a list so long that dates back for years," he said.

It's nearly impossible for dealers to get their hands on the sought-after vehicles, as supply-chain issues persist, Eastman said. "We're only getting two for this whole year," he said.

Montgomery said the city's good fortune is "all because of Greg Ames."

Ames, who chairs the Lebanon Energy Advisory Committee, had placed a reservation for an F150 Lightning a long time ago. When he learned he could get one of the first vehicles from Lebanon Ford, Ames transferred his spot to the city, Montgomery said.

Lebanon's truck is "antimatter blue," a close match to the dark blue color of the city's existing fleet.

Evan Loschiavo, marketing director at his family's Lebanon Ford dealership, has driven the new electric pickup truck, and he's a believer. "The city of Lebanon will love it," he said.

"The acceleration is more than anything that I've ever felt in a vehicle," he said. "I've driven Teslas and I've driven Corvettes. It's a sub-three-second zero-to-60 car. It's crazy."

He's also been impressed with the new EV's range, he said.

Montgomery said the new pickup will be charged at the city's public works building, which relies on solar power for 55 to 60% of its electricity usage.

Made in Dearborn, Mich., the F150 Lightning cost Lebanon around $43,000. With 426 horsepower, it has a 230-mile range on a full charge, and can tow up to 7,700 pounds, according to a specs list released by city officials.

Lebanon first entered the EV market in 2019 with a leased Nissan Leaf, Montgomery said. "We've liked that and enjoyed it very much," he said. "The next step was a pickup truck."

"The life cycle cost of an EV is substantially less than that for a gas vehicle," Montgomery said. "The maintenance is just much less because you don't have the internal combustion engine."

Lebanon officials are now looking into purchasing electric police cruisers, Montgomery said.

The city recently changed the configuration of a parking lot to accommodate DC fast chargers in the future, Montgomery said, and he's working with Liberty Utilities on a potential plan to set up a "microgrid" that would provide power from the landfill's gas-to-energy project and solar arrays. That would keep the police station and cruisers powered if the grid goes down.

Electric cars are no longer niche vehicles, Montgomery said. The future is now, he said.

"Let's hope it's soon enough," he said.