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Ford trademarked ‘Thunder’ for trucks, what if it’s a PHEV trim?

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According to our friends at Motor1, Ford Motor Co. recently filed three trademarks for the Thunder name – one for each of its trucks: F-150, Ranger and Maverick. While a lot of outlets are talking about the Ford Thunder as an off-road or sport variant because of a previous European model, we have to wonder if the Ford Thunder trims could be a plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV).

I mean c’mon, Ford Lightning and the Thunder? It makes a weird kind of sense. (And, yes, I do now have the Imagine Dragons “Thunder” song stuck in my head.)

A little Ford Thunder background

Back in 2020, Ford launched a Ranger Thunder variant with a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel. It was a limited-run truck with beefed up specs and a sporty design package.

The European press release touts “outstanding pulling power” as well as “competent off-road capability.” So, sure, it makes sense that the initial assumption would be that the F-150, Ranger and Maverick Thunder trims might follow suit.

But 2020 was a time before the F-150 Lightning, so a part of me has to wonder if Ford has something a little different in mind.

What if it’s a PHEV instead?

A lot of truck owners specifically are having a hard time with the idea of transitioning from straight gasoline engine to full-on battery electric. From towing to hauling to range anxiety, an electric truck doesn’t make sense for them at this time.

So, what if Ford gave them a tweener option? Imagine the ability to drive in electric-only mode around town, increasing time between fuel ups, but then adding the ability to tow long distances and giving an extra torque boost via the electric motor while towing.

Additionally, a plug-in truck from Ford would have some very interesting capabilities via the automaker’s Pro Power Onboard system.

To us, that would be an interesting way to bridge the gap, with a very interesting and related name.

Why it probably won’t be a PHEV

Though Ford makes PHEVs (cue the Escape and C-Max plug-ins), it has never sold a lot of them. Not to mention the fact that a plug-in comes with a premium – in Ford’s case the PHEV version of the Escape costs about $8k more than the regular gas model. So, PHEV pricing could be a problem as truck prices continue to surge.

Another reason the Ford Thunder trims likely won’t be PHEVs? Well, there currently isn’t a single plug-in electric truck in the U.S. market. While we think a plug-in truck would make a lot of sense, automakers seem to want to skip the bridge step and go straight for electrification.

One last reason, the Ford Thunder probably won’t be a PHEV: Thunder is something to be heard. So, there could be something to the sporty Euro spec Thunder model thing, equipped with some kind of a throaty exhaust.

The bottom line on the Ford Thunder

We have no idea if Ford will ever build the Thunder truck trims or if this is just Ford protecting the name for future use (or protecting it from other automakers’ use). But the possibility of what a Thunder trim could be is fascinating.

We’re certainly voting for the PHEV option, but the simplest answer is usually the right one.

So, what do you think? Will Ford use the Thunder name for its trucks, and are you on #TeamPHEV or #TeamSportTruck?

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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