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The State of the All-Electric Pickup Race

The state of the all-electric pickup race has changed considerably in just one year.

Last January, the Ohio-based startup Lordstown Motors was poised to take the inside lane to produce the first-ever all-electric pickup with its Endurance truck.

But then allegations of fraud in the spring and a subsequent Department of Justice investigation hammered the stock and led to the resignations of the CEO and other key leaders. The company is now on life support with dim prospects of ever producing a pickup. 

Meanwhile, Amazon-backed Rivian, another startup, became the first to market in September with its R1T all-electric pickup. And GM launched its Edition 1 model GMC Hummer EV in December.

Ford, which introduced the F-150 Lightning last May, expects to begin producing the electric pickup this spring. Chevrolet announced in January that its Silverado EV would launch next spring.

What about Tesla’s Cybertruck? Some new developments are impacting its target launch timeline.

Toyota recently announced its plan to build an electric pickup but has not offered details yet.

So, here’s a breakdown of the key contenders in the electric pickup race – as it stands today – to help you assess which vehicles might be available for and applicable to your fleet operations in the next few years.

Rivian R1T
Irvine, California-based Rivian was the first automaker out of the gate when its first R1T electric pickup truck, offering a range of about 300 miles, rolled off the assembly line in Normal, Illinois, on September 14, 2021.

The crew cab truck seats five and starts at $67,500, a steep price for most fleet applications. But production capacity is perhaps the company’s biggest barrier to widespread fleet adoption.

Rivian produced 1,050 vehicles in 2021, about 15% below the company’s 1,200-unit target. And according to reporting by Bloomberg, the company halted its production lines for about a week in early January to fix its manufacturing processes to ramp up to 200 units produced weekly, an increase from the current rate of 50.

But the 200 units per week number is about 1/10th of Ford’s production forecast to reach a 150,000-unit annual rate by next year for the F-150 Lightning.

The bottom line: Rivian might have the head start, but will it be able to hold off Ford and GM, which have much larger manufacturing capacities, stronger supply chains and greater economies of scale? 

R1T by the Numbers
Max Range: 314 miles (with a 400-plus-mile-range battery available in 2023)
Max Horsepower/Torque: 835 hp/908 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 3 secs.
Max Payload: 1,760 lbs.
Max Towing: 11,000 lbs.
Pricing: $67,500 to $73,000 MSRP
Deliveries: Started September 2021

Ford F-150 Lightning
Expected to arrive this spring, the all-electric crew cab F-150 Lightning will be available in four trim levels: Pro (the work truck version with vinyl seats); XLT (mid-level trim with cloth seats); Lariat (up-level trim with leather heated and ventilated seats); and Platinum (high-end premium trim).

One option utility fleets will find interesting: an available onboard scale that uses sensors to estimate payload so that operators can know precisely how much weight they’re hauling. This is important because payload impacts range. And the onboard scale is integrated with Ford’s Intelligent Range system to provide operators an estimated range that’s as accurate as possible.

The Lightning’s starting price of $39,974 is more in line with most fleet budgets, but recent news reports state that some Ford dealers have been capitalizing on the strong demand by marking up the price by tens of thousands of dollars over MSRP.

The bottom line: On paper, Ford looks like a strong contender. The truck should start hitting the roads soon, and the company has a lot of the pieces in place – manufacturing capacity, supply chain and a vast service network – to accelerate to the lead in electric truck production and sales. But with such strong retail demand projected, how much will fleets have to pay? What will be the allocation for the fleet-spec Pro models?

Lightning by the Numbers
Max Range: 300 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 563 hp/775 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 4 secs.
Max Payload: 2,000 lbs.
Max Towing: 10,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,974 to $52,974 MSRP
Deliveries: This spring

GMC Hummer EV
The GMC Hummer EV pickups began rolling off the assembly line in December.

The first trucks are Edition 1 models priced at $110,295 MSRP and estimated to produce 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 pound-feet of torque.

A couple of notable features include 4-Wheel Steer with Crabwalk and Adaptive Air Suspension with Extract Mode. The 4-Wheel Steer feature allows the rear and front wheels to steer at the same angle at low speeds, enabling diagonal movement for greater maneuverability on rough terrain, while the Adaptive Air Suspension raises the suspension height by 6 inches to handle extreme off-road situations, such as clearing boulders and fording water. 

Lower-price models ($79,995 to $89,995) are targeted for deliveries in 2023 and 2024.

The bottom line: Hummer’s price and performance specs are overkill for most utility fleet applications. However, the truck’s off-road capabilities might make the Hummer EV an interesting pilot vehicle for a fleet looking to electrify part of its all-terrain utility vehicle segment; it could serve as a people-mover in areas that are hard to reach with conventional four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Hummer EV by the Numbers
Max Range: 329 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 1,000 hp/11,500 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 3 secs.
Max Payload: 1,300 lbs.
Max Towing: 7,500 lbs.
Pricing: $79,995 to $110,295 MSRP
Deliveries: Started December 2021 (with Edition 1)

Chevrolet Silverado EV
In January, Chevrolet introduced the 2024 Silverado EV crew cab pickup that’s expected to offer 400 miles in range and produce up to 664 horsepower with 780 pound-feet of torque.

The truck is targeted to launch in spring 2023 as a work truck model with a starting MSRP of $39,900. A fully loaded RST First Edition model will debut with an MSRP of $105,000 in fall 2023.

GM said that customers will have the ability to spec the truck across various price ranges to build a truck that meets their capability and pricing requirements.

The bottom line: Chevy’s Silverado EV is a strong answer to the F-150 Lightning. It’s priced right for fleets while offering 100 more miles of maximum range than the Lightning.

But the truck’s targeted launch date is a year after Ford’s, giving the Lightning a significant head start, especially with prospective fleet customers. So, the critical question is, what is GM’s strategy to catch Ford? 

Silverado EV by the Numbers
Max Range: 400 miles
Max Horsepower/Torque: 664 hp/780 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 4.5 secs.
Max Payload: 1,300 lbs.
Max Towing: 10,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,900 to $105,000 MSRP
Deliveries: Spring 2023

Tesla Cybertruck
The Cybertruck was introduced in 2019 with great fanfare by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. At the time, it appeared that Tesla would be the prohibitive favorite in the electric pickup race.

After all, on paper, the Cybertruck looks unbeatable: up to 500 miles of electric range, a maximum payload – 3,500 pounds – that’s nearly double the competition’s, a maximum tow capacity of 14,000 pounds and a base price under $40,000.

Plus, deliveries were slated to begin in late 2021. But that didn’t happen.

In the most recent earnings call in January, Musk confirmed that 2022 wouldn’t be the year for the Cybertruck either. “If we were to introduce new vehicles, our total vehicle output will decrease,” he said. “We will not be introducing new vehicle models this year.”

Musk said that the Cybertruck won’t launch until 2023 at the earliest.

The bottom line: While other models mentioned in this article have either started deliveries or have firm targets in sight, the Cybertruck appears to be in limbo. And that puts it to the back of the pack – for now.

Cybertruck by the Numbers
Max Range: 500 miles
Horsepower/Torque: 800 hp/1,000 lb.-ft. of torque
0 to 60 mph: 2.9 secs.
Max Payload: 3,500 lbs.
Max Towing: 14,000 lbs.
Pricing: $39,900 to $69,900 MSRP
Deliveries: TBD 2023 (initially targeted for late 2021)

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Sean M. Lyden

Sean M. Lyden is the editor of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.

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