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Times are changing, and electric vehicles are the future. The new cover of TIME magazine features Linda Zhang, the Chief Engineer of the Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck. What made TIME pick Zhang for the cover? Her work on the F-150 Lightning electric truck is an essential step in the right direction for climate change.

Linda Zhang, the Chief Engineer of the Ford F-150 Lightning

A Ford F-150 Lightning in production of which Linda Zhang helped design
Linda Zhang, Ford F-150 Lightning Chief Engineer, Is on the cover of TIME | Ford

TIME magazine went a different route for this year’s Person of the Year. There are three versions available that highlight the diplomat, the activist, and the innovator. John Kerry happened to be chosen as the diplomat. Vanessa Nakate, known for being a Ugandan climate activist, was selected as the activist. Linda Zhang was picked as the innovator for her work on the ever-popular Ford F-150 Lightning.

According to TIME, this issue is dedicated to the global climate fight. As delegates head to COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, the hope is to bring people together to tackle climate change.

Zhang’s work on the Ford F-150 Lightning has not gone unnoticed. “This sucker’s quick,” U.S. President Joe Biden said after a test drive in May.

The Ford F-150 Lightning is an important electric truck

When electric vehicles first hit the scene, the small silly-looking sedans didn’t exactly appeal to the masses. After many years and a lot of innovation, trucks like the Ford F-150 Lightning are changing that. The looks of the F-150 Lightning mimic the F-150 pickup truck more than, say, a Toyota Prius. Ford knows that there is a market out there for those who want to drive a truck but wouldn’t mind an electric vehicle if it can perform.

In another article by TIME, Zhang was called “the engineer who made the electric vehicle palatable for the pickup-truck set.” What once might have been an impossible job, Zhang tackled with ease. Her goal was to bring an electric version of the most popular vehicle truck in America to the market. This isn’t her first rodeo, though. She has been an engineer at Ford for over 25 years.

But the F-150 Lightning project was an exciting journey for Zhang. “The prospect of being able to really go down more technologically advanced routes and providing some shock and awe to our customers … in a good way,” she told TIME.

The EV truck game is just starting

There has been a mad dash for automakers to make an electric truck in the last year or so. Trucks like the Ford Maverick had huge amounts of reservations when Ford opened ordering. The Tesla Cybertruck saw big interest from potential buyers as well. Not to mention the Rivian R1T electric truck.

Thus far, the Rivian R1T beat the Tesla and Ford vehicles to the market. But there is still a huge interest from potential buyers in a “Ford” electric truck. But the U.S. has agreed to phase-out internal composition engine (ICE) vehicles by 2050, so the process has to start at some point. The Ford F-150 Lightning had to surpass what the general public anticipated and what consumers expected from a gasoline F-150.

It is a tall order, but the F-150 Lightning has impressed thus far. As it begins to arrive into the hands of buyers, expect to see some happy electric truck converts flying quietly down the road.