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 announcements and in-app messages posted to the Lightning Owners’ Forum, Ford will roll out support for its Phone as a Key system in “late summer 2022” via a software update rather than the with the truck at launch.
With Ford’s Phone as a Key system, you can 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 on a few 2020 Lincoln models, and it’s also available in its other battery EV, the Mustang Mach-E.
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 to the Lightning Owners Forum dated May 16 states that dealers must advise customers of the missing feature before taking delivery of the truck (assuming they have one of the Lariat or Platinum finishes. purchased 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 leaves passive access systems using the technology open to attack. The F-150 Lightning, along with other cars from the likes of Tesla, uses Bluetooth LE to tell when your phone is nearby, but its vulnerability allows a system to basically think your phone is there. Ford did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on whether the discovery and delay were related.
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.