When Randy Jones of Katy, Texas, bought his new Ford F-150 pickup truck a few weeks ago, he didn't think he'd be using it to keep the lights on in his house during a historic winter storm that left millions without power.
The 2021 hybrid's onboard generator "gives you the ability to use your truck like a mobile generator" that can produce up to 7.2 kW of power, according to Ford.
Jones, 66, said in a phone interview with CNBC on Thursday that he bought the truck in part because of that feature, adding that he often loses power due to hurricanes and other storms. When he lost power Sunday night, he decided to get out a few extension cords and put the generator to the test.
"Without it I would have been in the dark and cold like everybody else in the neighborhood," the retired refinery worker said, adding that he helped neighbors charge their phones and laptops. "Quite a few of the neighbors said, 'Hey, I'm getting one,' like, 'I'm trading my Dodge or GMC,' because, South Texas, with hurricanes and things like that, we're always having power outages."
Jones said he used the truck's onboard generator to power appliances in his home for three days, until his power was restored Wednesday.
He's not alone. Jerry Hall, 73, bought his new F-150 at the end of January. It turned out to be perfect timing, he said.
"The truck saved the day," the Kerrville, Texas, resident said Thursday in a phone interview. Hall said his home lost power Sunday evening through early Thursday. "It would have been three miserable days without the truck."
Hall said he and his wife still spent those days without heat, but they were able to run extension cords from the truck into the house to power lights, the refrigerator, television and other luxuries.
"It kept us connected with the outside world," he said.
Hall said "the main reason" he bought the truck was its onboard generator. He said the rough weather last spring led to some blackouts in his part of the state and he knew he wanted to get some kind of generator. It just made sense, he said, to get a new truck with a generator built in.
Other truck owners have been posting similar stories in an online forum for F-150 owners. Photos from the forum spilled over onto Twitter, where Ford CEO Jim Farley took notice, tweeting, "The situation in the SW US is so difficult. Wish everyone in Texas had a new F150 with PowerBoost onboard generator...."