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#WomensMonth: The world’s most important bakkie engineer is a woman

2019-08-09 05:30


If you love bakkies, a highly-skilled female engineer named Linda is very important in creating the double-cabs you'll drive in future, writes Lance Branquinho.

When you think bakkies, you don’t really think of woman playing a prominent role in engineering but if you are a bakkie fan, and most South African motoring enthusiasts are, it might be time to alter your perspective and gender bias around bakkie-thought leaders. 

Although it does not sell here, the world’s most important (and popular) vehicle is Ford's F-150. It has been the best-selling automotive product in the United States for decades – and Americans are even more ardent bakkie fanatics than South Africans. 


                                              Image: Supplied

To give one some perspective and a scale of its success, Ford sold 1.1-million F-Series bakkies last year.

And that is curiously important, if you are worried about emissions and the future of electric mobility. Why? Well, if Ford could electrify its F-Series bakkie, they’d generate incredible momentum in a market where there are currently no battery bakkie options.

As rivals react to an electrified Ford F-Series with their own battery powered bakkies, the global project to achieve reduced emissions would be given a tremendous boost. But what does the possibility of a Ford battery bakkie have to do with woman in motoring?

Well, the most influential bakkie engineer in the world, right now, is a woman and what she is doing in terms of technical development, will have a significant influence on the bakkies you drive in future – even here in South Africa (eventually). 


                                              Image: Supplied

Her name is Linda Zhang and she is chief engineer of Ford’s F-150. Linda’s appointment is not a soft appeasement of gender-activists either.                          

The F-150 is Ford’s most important product, generating most of the company’s profits, and as such, only the best engineers are deployed to work on it. Linda has been with Ford for 23 years and she is excellently qualified to produce the next-generation of battery powered bakkies.

With an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, and a master’s in computer engineering, this Michigan native is the best possible candidate to transform the world’s most popular bakkie into an electric vehicle. It would appear that Linda is doing a great job, too.

She recently revealed a battery-powered F-150 prototype and although no specifications were divulged, Linda took the wheel and towed an incredible 450t worth of linked carriages with ‘her’ bakkie. Although Ford has not confirmed when its electric F-150 will become available, the lady in control of this project is driving us all to a much better bakkie future. 

So next time people quip about women not being as knowledgeable on bakkies as a subject, you might want to mention Linda Zhang, to correct their absence of knowledge. 

Read more on:    new models  |  4x4  |  off-road  |  bakkies

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