This was a serious effort by Ford to make a vehicle that did more than simply comply with California’s zero-emissions mandate. Although the vehicle, introduced in 1998, used a standard Ranger body, Ford spent heavily on the powertrain, safety and creature comforts and made continuous improvements in its five years on the market.
The 1998-99 models were built with old- fashioned lead-acid batteries. The 39-cell pack nestled between the frame rails gave the Ranger EV a 50-mile driving range (at “optimal temperature,” according to a Ford brochure) before a six-hour recharge was needed. In cold weather, driving range plummeted. A full charge at 32 degrees was good for 35 miles.
The Ranger EV had a 90-hp electric motor and a single-speed transmission that drove the rear wheels. Ford said it could accelerate from 0 to 50 mph in 12.5 seconds and attain a top speed of 75 mph. The truck could haul 700 pounds.
It came with air conditioning, dual air bags, four-wheel antilock brakes and…