F-150 Lightning owners won’t be able to use their phones as keys until ‘after summer’

Anyone lucky enough to get an F-150 Lightning in the coming months will find that one of the features they may have opted for is missing: the ability to unlock and control the electric truck with a phone. According to screenshots of Special Service Message messages and in-app messages posted on the Lightning Owners’ ForumFord will roll out support for its Phone as a Key system in “late summer 2022” via a software update instead of shipping it by truck at launch.

Ford’s Phone as key system lets you use the FordPass app to unlock and start your vehicle, as well as operate various things such as the windows, lights and trunk. What makes the delay somewhat puzzling is that this isn’t new technology from Ford — the company introduced it at a… pair of 2020 Lincoln modelsand it’s also available in its other battery EV, the Mustang Mach-E.

In theory, the app lets you open the Lightning’s front trunk.
Image: Ford

Ford’s F-150 Lightning site notes that the feature is limited to “select vehicles,” but it doesn’t seem to say anything about it not being available yet. However, a document posted on the Lightning Owners’ Forum and dated May 16, mentions a requirement for dealers to inform customers of the missing feature before taking delivery of the truck (assuming they purchased one of the Lariat or Platinum finishes that have this feature).

Forum members have speculated that the delay could have something to do with a recently announced Bluetooth Low Energy Vulnerability That: researchers say: leave passive access systems using the technology open to attack. The F-150 Lightning, along with other cars from people like Teslauses Bluetooth LE to see when your phone is nearby, but the vulnerability allows it to trick a system into thinking your phone is there. Ford did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on whether the discovery and delay were linked.

It’s worth noting that this feature belongs to Ford and is not related to the digital car key functions built into Android and iOS. Of course, as we saw with the Mustang Mach-E and Apple’s EV routing system, those systems wouldn’t necessarily have meant fewer delays for Ford.

While it’s unfortunate that the F-150 Lightning is reaching customer driveways without all its features, that’s something that’s becoming common in the age of chip shortages and supply chain issues. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like you’ll need to take your truck to the store to add the feature (although the dealer doc does mention it’s possible to get the upcoming software update a little earlier by doing this). My colleague Andrew Hawkins recently took a first ride on the F-150 Lightning, and it sounds like it’s a great truck – hopefully the experience of being one of the first to own one won’t be dampened too much by one having to use one of the supplied key rings for a few months.