Sizing Up the Electric Pickup Truck
It seems like every time you turn around these days, there’s a new battery-electric pickup truck being unveiled. Iconic American truck builders Ford, General Motors and Ram have begun building full-size electric pickups, while startup manufacturers – such as Rivian and Canoo – are rolling out EV pickups of varying designs. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, head of the biggest EV maker in North America, keeps promising to soon produce the purpose-built Tesla Cybertruck.
These manufacturers and others are poised to profit from what may go down as the golden age of electric pickups. Truck makers are beginning to ramp up their overall EV production, new tax breaks and other incentives are becoming available to trim high acquisition costs for buyers, and more commercial truck customers are getting better acquainted with the advantages of electric drive that go beyond warding off climate change.
Home vs. Work
Regardless of nameplates new or old, the winners will fall into two application categories: consumer and vocational, with – as is typical with all pickups – some use cases straddling that divide.
Consumers will opt for electric pickups for different reasons than work-truck operators like electric utility fleets. The former may go electric to save on fuel, to help save the environment or just to be trendy. But the latter will go electric with set goals of consuming less fuel, burnishing corporate green credentials, operating a less complex and therefore less expensive powertrain, and – in many cases – gaining a mobile platform to run electric power tools and equipment at work sites. Indeed, several or all of the above may sway fleet pickup buyers to go electric.
The electric pickups are coming, and their numbers will eventually soar. But to be clear, despite all the hype, the floodgates are far from open. That is attested to by the following EV pickup delivery numbers:
- Ford sold 15,617 F-150 Lightnings from May through December 2022 (see www.barrons.com/articles/ford-f150-lightning-sales-december-51672932657).
- In 2022, Rivian delivered 20,332 electric vehicles; that number reflects delivery of the R1T pickup, R1S SUV and EDV 700 vans (see https://insideevs.com/news/629288/rivian-ev-production-deliveries-2022q4/).
- GMC Hummer EV deliveries totaled 854 in 2022 (see https://insideevs.com/news/629601/us-gmc-hummer-ev-pickup-truck-sales-2022q4/).
The Latest on Electric Pickups
As for what’s available now or soon to be, let’s first consider the EV pickups offered by what used to be called the Detroit Big Three: Ford, General Motors and Ram (formerly Dodge). The majority of commercial EV buyers will look here first for the simple reason that their pickup fleets already consist of models bearing one or more of these marques, which were no doubt selected based on their past and continuing performance on the job.
Ford was first out of the full-size electrics gate in the first half of 2022 with its F-150 Lightning and F-150 Lightning Pro 4×4 pickups. Standard range is up to an EPA-estimated 230 miles. Said by Ford to generate 580 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque with a standard lithium-ion battery, the base truck boasts a 2,000-pound maximum payload capacity and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity. Adding an optional trailer-tow package boosts that up to 10,000 pounds.
Under Where the Engine Was
Lightning models include Ford’s Mega Power Frunk, a waterproof trunk area built into the spot where the internal combustion engine compartment resides on a non-electric F-150. Within it are 14.1 cubic feet of cargo space, plus four 120-volt AC Pro Power Onboard electrical outlets and two USB ports for charging smartphones and tablets. Also available is the 9.6-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard system that adds two more 120-volt outlets plus a 240-volt AC outlet in the bed to power work-site tools and equipment. In addition, parameters can be set for power usage.
Rolled out last year was General Motors’ GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 pickup. This truck is clearly marketed to consumers seeking the ultimate in electric bragging rights. Key features noted by GM: three-motor e4WD propulsion system with GM-estimated best-in-class 1,000 horsepower and GM-estimated 11,500 pound-feet of torque; GM-estimated 329 miles of driving range on a full charge; and 800-volt DC fast-charging capability.
Also recently announced were GM’s 2024/2025 twin full-size electric pickup stablemates, the GMC Sierra EV and the Chevrolet Silverado EV. Per usual with these two models, their features vary slightly, primarily in their “road feel” for drivers and some interior fitments.
Consider this take on the two GM models posted at www.thedrive.com/news/gmc-sierra-ev-or-chevy-silverado-ev-truckbuyers-face-old-questions-for-new-trucks: “Both trucks … have identical range estimates and nearly identical power figures (the GMC Sierra EV makes marginally more torque: 785 foot-pounds vs. 780 foot-pounds). GMC touts its Sierra EV will make up to 754 horsepower in ‘Max Power Mode’ while the Silverado EV touts 664 hp in ‘Wide Open Watts’ mode. Chevy says the Silverado EV will tow up to 10,000 pounds in RST Trim, while GMC notes 9,500 pounds of towing capacity for its truck. Both companies have alluded to different towing capacities for different models but haven’t specified those ranges.”
Ram just entered the game with its 1500 REV pickup, unveiled April 5 at the New York Auto Show. It is to be equipped with a standard 168-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a targeted range of up to 350 miles or an optional 229-kilowatt-hour large battery pack for a targeted range of up to 500 miles.
Ram said the REV’s towing capacity will be up to 14,000 pounds; the payload capacity will be up to 2,700 pounds. The truck can add up to 110 miles of range in approximately 10 minutes with 800-volt DC fast charging at up to 350 kilowatts, the OEM stated. In addition, a Ram 1500 REV XR version that will deliver “class-shattering range” is to follow.
On the startup side, those gaining the most media play that may eventually hold appeal for commercial fleets look to be the purpose-built Rivian R1T, with off-road capabilities, and the Canoo, with 500-plus targeted horsepower. And don’t forget the truly futuristic Tesla Cybertruck EV pickup, still waiting in the wings.
About the Author: David Cullen is an award-winning journalist who specializes in covering the trucking industry. Based in Connecticut, he writes for several business publications.
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