With the all-electric Rivian pickup truck due in 2020 and Tesla not far behind with its “steampunk pickup,” both Ford and GM are in hot pursuit. Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford has already said it will have an all-electric pickup by 2022.
Ford told Automotive News, “This is going to be a real watershed for the whole industry. You pick up all of that extra space where the engine compartment has been.” He is saying that there could be extra hauling space where an engine once was found in a conventional pickup.
Ford Investing $11.5 Billion
What we do know about Ford’s electric plans is that it is investing $11.5 billion for a range of electric vehicles that will be in showrooms by 2022. How much of that is earmarked for a pickup is unknown.
Across town at GM, its CEO Mary Barra has already come out to say GM will have an electric truck. We know that it is investing $8 billion for new EVs and autonomous vehicles by 2023. GM is tight-lipped about its EV truck plans beyond what Barra has said.
Currently, Fiat-Chrysler has no plans for an electric truck. Toyota says there is no market for electric trucks and that it is working on a hybrid Tundra pick up.
If the state of California prevails and becomes the lead for emissions standards, then both Ford and GM could use EV trucks to meet those tougher emissions rules. Right now Trump is trying to roll back the tougher emissions caps so it’s all a bit up in the air at this time.
Tesla and Rivian All-Electric Pickups
But with Tesla and Rivian close to the production of EV pickups Ford felt compelled to invest $500 million in Rivian to hedge its bets. Besides Ford’s investment Amazon has invested $700 million and Cox Automotive another $350 million into Rivian. The EV truck platform that Ford is developing will be separate from the one it is helping Rivian with.
The idea of a large truck for commercial purposes has had mixed interest mainly due to electric vehicles being heavier because of their batteries. Since commercial trucks are limited in the amount of gross weight they can carry as a payload electric trucks would haul less than a diesel truck overall. So, until battery technology reduces its inherent weight problem we probably won’t be seeing long hauler EVs.
Electrick Pickups Make Sense
Where electricity makes sense for pickups is their use tends to be more localized, so range becomes less of a concern. Also, since they are larger the platform is larger so more batteries can be utilized.
Ford has taken other risks recently related to their pickups. They switched over to substitute steel for all-aluminum bodies back in 2016. It also ramped up production and sales of V6 engines in place of V8s. So, Ford has slowly been evolving the traditional pickup that has seen little change for decades.
It will be interesting to see just how all-consuming the electric rush will be in America. It could end up being an extremely niche segment, or we could see another revolution like the one we are witnessing right now in the car segment.