Electric Pickup Trucks Are Coming In 2021
After a long wait, electric vehicles are now coming after the biggest and most powerful vehicles on the market
In the start, the stereo-typical electric car was an eco-friendly looking compact that the average consumer likely couldn’t tell apart from a Prius. But that’s the past. Soon, electric vehicles will begin to displace the biggest and highest emitting passenger cars on the road.
Until now, electric vehicle sales have lagged in the US and Canada compared to Europe. Partly, this is due to the lack of incentives, more lax regulation, and lower fuel prices. However, the North American car market is also less favorable to the small electric cars that have so far dominated. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, over a quarter of the US car market consisted of pickup trucks and SUV’s (with even more in vans). The best-selling model in the US (with around 800,000 units sold in 2020) is the Fort F-series. So far these segments have been untapped by electric cars, but that’s about to change. Automakers have begun to introduce more electric vehicles in the popular crossover segment, and soon we should see the first electric pickup trucks and SUV’s come to market.
The potential for electric pickups is enormous. Pickup trucks have high gas costs, making the fuel savings of electric cars larger than ever. Previously, high battery prices and low energy density made it infeasible to build a long-range truck at anything resembling a competitive prices. Battery prices have fallen by 89% since 2010 though, making the large-battery trucks feasible at last. Energy density has also improved, allowing for batteries large enough for ranges comparable to gas cars.
The coming tidal wave is symbolized best by General Motors. Previously a symbol of fuel inefficient excess, the Hummer will be making a comeback in electric form. The specs are impressive: 560 km (350 miles) of range. However, don’t expect the vehicle to make a big dent in the market; the vehicle has a starting price well over $100,000. GM expects to release a more “affordable” version starting at $80,000 in 2024, but the vehicle is likely to fill only a niche high-end market. However, some of the other coming vehicles likely have bigger potential.
The most obvious is the Tesla Cybertruck (pictured above). Despite it’s controversial look, the vehicle looks like it’s generated some interest with more than 200,000 reservations. The starting price should eventually be under $40,000 (with more than 400 km of range), with higher-priced options that could provide as much as 800 km of range available first.
Granted, $40,000 is still about $11,000 more than the best-selling Ford F150 starts at currently. However, as battery prices continue to fall, we should see increasingly competitive sticker prices. Tesla is currently building a new factory in Texas to produce their Cybertruck, and they hope to commence production by late this year.
Despite being the most widely known, the Cybertruck might not even be the first EV pickup to hit the market. Rivian Automotive, the start-up backed by Amazon and Ford, expects to bring their more conventional looking truck to market by mid-2021 with deliveries starting in June. The R1T should start with a price of $69,000 at first, with lower prices coming after. At these prices, the R1T will likely compete with high-priced Denali (GM) and Lariat (Ford) models. Rivian has also emphasized the off-road capabilities of their vehicles, possibly stealing customers away from Land Rover as well. With a range of over 600 km on the top-end model and towing of 11,000 pounds, the vehicle should find a good audience.
Rivian also plans to bring forward a second model, the R1S, shortly after. The R1S is a large SUV, likely to compete with Escalades and Suburbans. The R1S should be able to carve out substantial market share against its relatively high-priced competitors as well.
Another start-up with connections to GM, Lordstown Motors is aiming to bring their model (the Endurance) a few months in the latter half of 2021. Lordstown is placing a special focus on fleet vehicles, where they hope rational number-crunching executives will see the potential for large fuel and maintenance savings. This approach may very well pay dividends: the company has reportedly sold out the first year of production, which is set for 20,000 units. The fuel savings should easily offset a higher purchase price, allowing companies to save money over the lifetime of the vehicle. Lordstown will open up orders to the general public at some point as well. Another startup, Fisker Inc, has teased a new pickup as well, but it’s unclear when the vehicle could make it to market.
Not to be left behind, traditional automakers are also looking to join the fray. Ford intends to introduce an electric version of their best-selling F-150 that will go on sale in min-2022. We don’t know much about it yet, but it’s expected to be the most powerful F-150 to date and Ford says it should also have the lowest total lifetime cost among their F-series trucks.
GM has also said they plan on producing an all-electric pickup, but with a self-imposed deadline of 2025, they might find themselves near the back of the pack.
Regardless, a year or two from now potential pickup buyers could have multiple options with long ranges. In the years after that, these vehicles should quickly become price competitive with gas-powered trucks. One of the last remaining barriers to widespread EV adoption is now coming down. As electric cars begin to close in on one of the last remaining segments of the market they have yet to touch, the walls seem to begin closing in on conventionally powered automobiles. Automakers that are slow to adjust risk being left behind.