Everyone knows the future of the auto industry lies in electrification. Love it, hate it, or anywhere in between, it’s just how it is. While there won’t be some sudden overnight switch to an electrified auto market, we are in the midst of a slow but sure transition. Back in late 2020, Kelley Blue Book estimated that no less than eight electric pickup trucks would hit the market by 2021. Now, almost halfway through the year, we’ve seen the likes of the GMC Hummer EV, Tesla’s Cybertruck, the Rivian R1T, the Bollinger B2, and most recently, the Ford F-150 Lightning. And in April, GM announced plans for an all-electric Chevrolet Silverado truck.
Gauging Interest In Electric Trucks
It’s tough to gauge true public interest in electric trucks at the moment. The Tesla Cybertruck garnered over a million reservations, although there’s no real indicator of how many of those reservations are serious, and how many are just eager fans trying to get in on the hype. The Hummer EV Edition 1 reached its reservation capacity in an hour, while the Rivian R1T has over 30,000 reservations at $1,000 a piece by August 2020. The Ford F-150 Lightning scored 20,000 pre-orders in 12 hours, while the totally reservation tally of the Tesla Cybertruck is reportedly at a million pre-orders.
If we’re gauging the fickleness of refundable $100-$1,00 deposits to reserve an electric truck as a reliable barometer, then sure, the public interest is there. But the chickens shouldn’t be counted before they hatch.
The Problems Going Full-Electric
However, as noted in an article by Jalopnik, the electric truck market faces two distinct problems. The first is the issue of towing. Electric car and truck manufacturers can brag about range all day, but if that range is severely compromised by a hitched recreational vehicle, it’s a tough sell.
The second issue is a bit more abstract. Despite eye-popping stats like 1,000 horsepower, 400 miles of range, and 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, reducing the stigmas around electrification still needs to happen among truck buyers. But with recent studies suggesting that the embedded carbon footprint of EVs may be insurmountable, along with other studies suggesting there simply may not be enough rare earth materials for everybody to make batteries necessary to power EVs, the existing skepticism is not without merit. Nevertheless, politicians are damning the latest science, and demanding the industry go electric.
Then there’s the price of EVs, which can be around $10,000 or more in comparison to a similarly sized or contented vehicle with a gas engine. The new Ford F-150 Lightning price is a good example of this. At just under $40,000, its price is roughly $11,000 more than a comparable F-150 XL work truck.
More boutique electric trucks like the Rivian R1T, Bollinger B2 and Hummer EV can crest $100,000 in price. The only solution kicked around has been to allow for significant tax breaks for electric trucks and cars, which stands to largely benefit well-heeled buyers as it is, at the expense of the taxpayer.
Where We Could Be Headed
Even beyond those issues, the long standing problem of affordability and accessibility is still looming. If the demand for electric trucks does get there in the future, it will require a broad infrastructure overhaul.
It looks like a good option for manufacturers now is to wean consumers onto their fully-electric trucks by rallying the hybrid truck market. Showing new buyers that electrification isn’t some scary new tech while still maintaining power and reliability is crucial. Trucks like the Ram 1500 eTorque, the F-150 Powerboost hybrid, and most recently the new 2022 Ford Maverick hybrid are all good stepping stones for consumers if they care to be open to electrification.
Ultimately, this future is largely being funded on the backs of today’s current crop of gasoline and diesel powered pickup trucks and full-size utility vehicles. The demand for them is both pragmatic and immutable, while the electric truck market continues to seek positivity.