• Rivian RIT

News: Pickup Electrification a Hot Topic in U.S.

GM/Ford Battle Over Rivian; Tesla Teases Pickup News

Pickup trucks are a unique American phenomenon. While working trucks are found all over the world, nowhere are they best-sellers like in the U.S., where the top three sales spots are occupied by vehicles named F-150, Ram and Silverado. Those three pickup nameplates (out of 12 total pickups and more than 300 total models for sale) accounted for more than 11 percent of the total sales during the first four months of 2019.

Rivian RIT electric pickup
This is not the face of the new F-150; Ford’s interested in what’s underneath

Conventional wisdom says pickup buyers are conservative and resistant to change and new technology, but that bit of consensus thinking is being challenged. During the past month Ford announced it was investing $500 million into a partnership with Rivian, a Michigan-based company that has already developed a prototype all-electric pickup and SUV. That investment followed on a larger one from Amazon and edged out General Motors, which was also widely reported to have been considering a similar investment. Ford said it would use Rivian’s skateboard EV platform to accelerate the Blue Oval’s electric pickup plans.

2019 Ford Ranger
Before the full-electrics arrive we may see a hybrid Ranger

Rivian’s pickup is due to hit the market late next year (2020) with a starting price of $69,000, three battery choices and up to 400 miles of range. It’s aggressively marketing itself as a real pickup with power and off-road capabilities. Ford’s Rivian investment release indicated that a previously announced electric F-150 may come to market without Rivian technology. Ford’s midsize pickup, the Ranger, is rumored to be planning to offer a hybrid option in 2020, following the lead of the Explorer SUV. GM earlier said it would also develop its own electric version of its pickup line, but has been vague about details, other than a hint that it might debut as a GMC.    

Another Tesla Tease

When Elon Musk introduced his Semi Class 8 truck, he flashed an image of pickup version of the big truck. Another teaser went out at the end of the Model Y announcement. Musk was talking about the pickup again last week as he tweeted that it would be better than both the best-selling Ford F-150 and a Porsche 911 sports car.

Tesla electric pickup
This was all Elon revealed of Tesla’s coming pickup

Musk also said that the starting price for the Tesla pickup would be less than $50,000, Assuming that’s a stripped model (as seen with the Model 3), that would seem to be a fair price for such a truck. For anyone who hasn’t shopped the pickup market lately (and Clean Fleet Report has some road tests coming that will get you up to date), that’s a moderate price for a well-equipped pickup. Many models run much higher, even though basic work trucks still start under $30,000. The range of the truck could be up to 500 miles, but no indication of what it will actually look like when it’s revealed later this year.

It’s clear the pickup market is going to see some electric models–soon. We’ll follow the action and see what kind of impact they have.

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About Author: Michael Coates

is editor and publisher at Clean Fleet Report and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of The Enthusiast Network), Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the Board of the Western Automotive Journalists.

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