AAPI Voices: Chief Engineer Linda Zhang Is Behind the Ford F-150 Lightning
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For decades, the Ford F-150 has been the best-selling truck in America. This impressive truck is known for its rugged design and powerful engine. This year, Ford announced that it’s expanding the F-150 line by introducing the F-150 Lightning.
The F-150 Lighting is set to be one of the first electric pickup trucks to hit the market. This innovative truck wouldn’t have been possible without the engineering skills and expertise of Linda Zhang. Here’s a look at Zhang's career and contributions to the automotive industry.
Who is Linda Zhang?
As reported by The Drive, Linda Zhang is one of the chief engineers at Ford. She’s been working for the Ford Motor Company for over 25 years. Zhang is an electrical engineer who has designed several Ford vehicles including the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning.
It’s uncommon to see a woman of color in a lead engineering role, and representation like Zhang’s is shaping a more welcoming space in the auto industry. Zhang told The Drive that getting people interested in STEM earlier is important for seeing more women of color in roles like hers in the industry.
Zhang immigrated from China to America with her family. When she first came to America, she mainly spoke Mandarin but knew a few words in English. As a child, Zhang learned to speak fluent English by watching children's TV shows.
She had never been inside of a car until she got to America. She remembered being blown away the first time she was in a car. "It was just awesome. I felt like I was riding in a carriage, like the princess story almost," Zhang said.
Linda Zhang's automotive journey with Ford
When Zhang was younger, her father got a job at Ford researching different types of powertrains. Zhang took an immediate interest in her father's work. When she went off to college, her love for the automotive industry continued to grow.
While attending the University of Michigan, Zhang was a part of the Baja and Solar Car racing teams. In 1996, she graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, she followed in her father's footsteps and went to work for Ford.
During her 25-year career, Zhang has worked with several Ford vehicles, including the Explorer and the Escape. She also helped develop some of Ford's powertrains as well. Although she enjoyed her work with gas-powered engines, she always had a dream of creating an electric vehicle.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is born
From Tesla to General Motors, there are several auto companies that have unveiled their version of an electric pickup truck this year. As an electric revamp of a popular truck model, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is especially exciting.
Linda Zhang was one of the engineers that came up with the Lightning's electrified powertrain. She said how grateful she was to lead the charge on the first Ford electrification project, and work to build a practical, eco-friendly vehicle. "We basically said, 'What could we do more with electrification where it could enhance our customers' lives,'" Zhang recalled.
Many people were skeptical that electric vehicles could be powerful. Zhang and her team put the truck through F-series testing and helped Ford "go out with a product that lives up to the truck DNA and also provides elevated functionality brought about by electrification."
Under the hood, you’ll find a powerful electric motor that delivers up to 563 hp and 775 lb.-ft of torque. With this impressive motor, the Lightning is able to go from zero to 60 mph in only around four seconds.
Zhang thinks that the truck earned its "Lightning" title. If you’re in the market for a new electric vehicle, but don’t want to overpay for car insurance, check out Jerry. A licensed broker that offers end-to-end support, the free Jerry app gathers affordable quotes, helps you switch plans, and even cancels your old policy for you.