Linda Zhang is pure Blue Oval with over 25 years at Ford.
There's no denying the dominance of the Ford F-150 in the United States. It's been the best-selling pickup truck for decades, and its reign as America's best-selling vehicle seems unconquerable. Now, Ford is keen to steer the F-150 into the future with the new Lightning, the first-ever all-electric truck from Dearborn. The person behind it all might come as something of a surprise, and what a welcome surprise it is.
Ford F-150 Chief Nameplate Engineer Linda Zhang immigrated to the United States with her family when she was eight years old. Born in China, she quickly became fluent in English and eventually followed in her father's footsteps to become an engineer. She joined Ford at age 19 and worked steadily through the ranks, all while studying at the University of Michigan to earn a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, a Master of Science in Computer Engineering, and an MBA. So yeah, it's safe to say Zhang absolutely knows a thing or two about what makes cars work, and work well.
After leading several other endeavors at Ford, Zhang became the F-150 chief nameplate engineer in September 2018 and began work on the all-electric Lightning. The truck is available with up to 563 horsepower and a maximum range of 300 miles, though as Zhang emphasized during the Lightning reveal on May 19, its low center of gravity and perfect weight distribution make it the best-handling and the quickest F-150 ever. Some Lightning purists may cry foul over an EV wearing the fabled badge, but it's a proper pickup truck that's also seriously fast and fun. Like it or not, that's the exact definition of what Lightning has always been.
With race and gender issues still present in the United States, Zhang's accomplishments in a male-dominated industry serve as a reminder that all sorts of people are capable of greatness. Her achievements are impressive to say the very least, and hopefully they inspire others to surprise us all with what they can do.