The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning pickup has been revealed with a starting price under $40G. The all-electric truck is the most powerful F-150 ever and offers a range up to 300 miles per charge.
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Linda Zhang is living the American dream, and making history as she does.
Zhang is the chief engineer for the electric Ford F-150 Lightning, which is one of the most significant vehicles in the company’s nearly 120-year history, but her story started far from Dearborn, Michigan.
Zhang is the chief engineer for the F-150 Lightning. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)
She was born in China and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 8 years old and didn’t speak English. A decade later she was studying to be an electrical engineer at the University of Michigan and interning at Ford, where she’s been for over 25 years.
Today she’s the mother of two and in charge of a high-profile project with the potential to make or break the automaker’s future, and she thanks the work ethic instilled in her by her mother, a data analyst, for helping get her where she is.
Zhang showed the truck to President Biden when he visited Ford last year. (Ford)
“My mom’s always been hard-working, she’s an ox in the Chinese zodiac,” Zhang said.
“The biggest thing she’s taught me is just work hard and keep focused on what it is you’re trying to do, and that’s how I’ve continued my own career in terms of getting here and balancing work and home.”
Zhang worked in manufacturing and business development and was the program manager for the Ford Explorer SUV before moving to the F-150 Lightning, but never put it in front of her own family.
The F-150 Lightning team has been working on the truck for nearly four years. (Ford)
“For me, the fact that I have a successful career is very important, but the fact that I have a successful life at home with two kids is more important to me,” Zhang said.
“Early on, when my kids were younger, I actually took a break in my career. There were a couple of promotional opportunities that I turned down because I just wanted to make sure that I was there for my kids. I want to pick them up from school at 3:30 p.m., so I’m going to work an earlier shift and get there and if I need to in the evening after they’re in bed, I’m happy to pick up the work again.”
Zhang said she’s counted on support from her family and friends as the work has gotten more demanding, and that Ford has been behind her all the way.
“They sent me back to school for my MBA, whatever it was I wanted to do, they supported it,” she said.
“I’m a Ford person for life.”
She’s spent the past week in San Antonio, Texas, hosting dozens of journalists from around the world to tell them about her truck, but is making sure she gets home for the weekend.
“I can’t wait to see my kids on Mother’s Day.”