Electrified pickup trucks are coming whether the market wants them or not.
Some might think full-electric pickup trucks would be a stretch, particularly in a market that has thus far been dominated by small utilitarian hatchbacks and costly luxury models, sold largely to intellectual and affluent green-minded motorists. But with the EV market now expanding into battery-powered sport-utility vehicles, the electrified pickup market stands as the next great frontier. Several automakers, both upstart and established, are preparing electric pickup trucks for the coming model years. The question is, will anyone buy them?
It’s uncertain whether die-hard truck aficionados would ever consider making the move from an internal combustion engine to electrification unless perhaps gas prices hit $10 a gallon. And even then, a tradesperson or farmer might choose not to be associated with technology that’s perceived as being upper-class snobbish. Another critical factor to consider would be an electric pickup’s range on a charge. A great number of pickup owners live in rural areas and tend to put a considerably higher than average number of miles on their rides each day, and at speeds that tend to drain an EV’s battery quicker. Plus, the number of public charging stations situated in or near smaller towns to provide a quick jolt of kilowatts when needed remains slim to none.
And yet, EV battery range in general is growing rapidly, with 200- and 300-mile or higher abilities fast becoming the norm. Also, since trucks are built on massive platforms they can accommodate large long-distance batteries, and the resulting lower center of gravity could give them far more amenable road manners. Big electric motors can create enormous amounts of torque for hefty towing and hauling capacities. And as it stands, a fair number of affluent suburbanites own pickup trucks – likely many of them also having a Tesla in their garages – for lifestyle purposes. They use them to tow large boats or trailers, haul active-lifestyle gear like dirt bikes, and to carry sports equipment without scuffing up a luxury SUV’s cargo hold.
Also, basic work-truck EV pickups could well be the future rides of choice for fleets. They afford eminently economical operation, with well-documented commercial routes that could easily be drawn to accommodate a given model’s range on a charge. Charging would occur overnight where the trucks are headquartered.
It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. In the meantime, we’re looking ahead at the electric pickup trucks being readied for future production in the accompanying slideshow.
1. Rivian R1T
Here’s an electric pickup that could appeal to a different set of buyers than those currently driving a full-size domestic-branded truck. Expected to debut for the 2020 model year, the R1T comes from Rivian, a startup company that’s readying the electrified pickup’s production at a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL. The five-passenger R1T looks sleekly futuristic, with curved bodylines, flared fenders, and uniquely cast “stadium” headlamps that give it a truly distinctive face.
A quad-motor all-wheel-drive system is said to enable both high-speed cornering and low-speed rock crawling. The company says the R1T will be able to reach 60 mph in just three seconds and tow a maximum 11,000 pounds. Three battery sizes are planned, with the 180 kWh and 135 kWh available at launch and a 105 kWh being coming within a maximum range of up to 400+-plus miles. The automaker is even promising hands-off autonomous driving on the highway. It will reportedly start at around $69,000.
2. Tesla Pickup
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has long hinted that the company would be building a full-electric pickup truck, and it could well be revealed later this summer. Though only scant details have surfaced, we’d expect it would come wrapped in non-traditional styling to catch the eye of upscale Model S owners who could want, perhaps even have a bona fide need for a Tesla truck. Musk refers to the pickup’s appearance as being “cyberpunk.”
Musk previously Tweeted that a coming Tesla pickup would have six seats, deliver 400-500 miles of range per charge, come with dual-motor all-wheel-drive, a 240-volt connection for heavy-duty tools, and up to a seemingly unlikely 300,000 pounds of towing capacity. It will reportedly start at $49,000. Those are lofty promises, even for Musk, so stay tuned.
3. Bollinger B2
Fledgling EV maker Bollinger plans to begin selling a militaristic-looking boxy electric SUV to be built in Detroit for the 2020 model year called the B1. The company plans to follow that model in a subsequent model year with an equally angular pickup truck called the B2 that would share platforms and components with the SUV.
It would be built on a lightweight, but sturdy, aluminum frame, come with dual-motor all-wheel-drive, and put 614 horsepower with 688 pound-feet of torque to the pavement. Bollinger says it will accelerate to 60 mph in four seconds, tow up to 7,500 pounds, and run for 200 miles on a charge. It will be able to carry objects up to 8.2-feet long via a full-length pass-through at the rear of the cabin. It will come with a Jeep Wrangler-like removable windshield, door panels, roof and rear seat, and is claimed to be seriously off-road capable.
4. Ford F-150 Electric
Ford confirmed earlier this year that both full-electric and plug-in hybrid versions of the industry sales-leading full-size F-150 pickup truck are in development. Reports suggest the electrified F-150s would arrive sometime after the pickup’s next scheduled redesign, which will probably be during 2020 as a 2021 model. (The current generation is pictured here.)
No further information has been released, though the truck is expected to share some components with Ford’s upcoming Mustang-related electric crossover SUV, albeit with a larger battery. Spy shots of what could be Fords EV pickup suggest it will ride on an independent rear suspension instead of the F-150’s solid rear axle configuration, which would make more room for a big battery pack.
5. General Motors EV Pickup
Not to be outdone, General Motors acknowledged earlier this year that it also has an electric pickup truck in the works and that it would sell at “very average transaction prices.” The company has gone on the record to say the coming EV pickup would ride on GM’s third-generation global EV platform, which will provide the basis for many new GM electric vehicles in the coming years.
There’s no word yet on which current model might become electrified or when it might go into production. The full-size Chevrolet Silverado, pictured here, would seem to be a good bet, as would an EV version of its near-twin, the GMC Sierra. On the other hand, GM has committed Cadillac to being the company’s “vanguard” division for EVs, beginning with a large electric SUV to be built on the aforementioned BEV3 platform, so there is a possibility it may wind up there as an all-new model.