Change is Coming: Five Reasons Why Electric Pickups May Dominate Gasoline-Powered Trucks
Electric pickup trucks. While there isn’t currently one that you can go out and drive home right now, they are coming. Whether it’s established automakers like GM and Ford bringing all-electric versions of their popular pickups or newcomers like Tesla and Rivian, it appears America is about to enter a new era of pickup trucks.
Given how loyal and traditional many American pickup buyers are, there are bound to be many who are reluctant to transition to these new electric trucks—even if upcoming government regulations force their hand. But environmental reasons aside, there are plenty of reasons why electric pickups could end making a lot sense.
Here are five big ones:
While today’s gasoline pickups are more fuel efficient than ever, there’s no getting around physics. The half ton pickups that dominate our sales charts are still far behind sedans and crossovers when it comes to fuel economy, particularly in city driving.
It’s one thing to replace a Toyota Camry that gets 35 miles per gallon with an electric car, but replacing a pickup that averages less than 17 miles per gallon could become even more enticing to buyers.
Now obviously larger, heavier electric trucks are still going to use more battery energy than an a small electric commuter car, but many urban pickup drivers could be swayed by eliminating expensive gasoline bills altogether.
The Torque Factor
Talk to anyone who loves diesel pickups and they’ll tell you that torque is a major factor in their purchase decision, not just the amount of it a truck makes but how easy it is to access that torque.
Instant plentiful torque also happens to be a defining characteristic of most electric vehicles and it now doubt will be a selling point for electric truck buyers who may be towing or carrying heavy loads.
While having prodigious amounts of torque available instantly is a nice feature of electric commuter cars that can make them quite fun, in electric pickup trucks it has the potential to be a game changer.
Simplicity & Maintenance
Another thing that American pickup drivers tend to appreciate is reliability and trouble-free powertrains that can be depended upon for years to come.
And while we don’t know exactly how these upcoming electric trucks will perform in terms of long term reliability, they have the potential to impress in this area as well.
In addition, electric vehicles famously have a lot less moving parts than their gasoline counterparts, and along with less trouble that could also mean less expensive and less frequent maintenance for private owners and fleets alike.
Another area where electric trucks have the potential to stand out is body shape and packaging. Trucks right now all have a well-defined shape with a long hood where the engine sits, a transmission, one or two differentials, cabs of varying size, a bed to haul stuff — and a sizable gasoline tank.
On the other hand, electric trucks use less components and they can be arranged to take up less space overall. That means there is potential for automakers to flip the script and release new types of pickup designs (ie: cab forward) that still meet modern safety standards and stand out from the common pickup shapes we have now. See the Tesla Cybertruck for an example of this.
Last but not least we get to price, which could end up being both a positive and a negative when it comes to electric pickups. On one hand, given that new gasoline pickups can get quite expensive and the fact electric cars typically have higher MSRPs than comparable gas cars, it’s likely that sticker prices for many of these new electric trucks will seem quite high.
But with electric vehicles MSRP rarely tells the whole story. First off there are post-purchase tax credits and regional rebates in many areas that can drive down overall costs significantly. And given the costs many of automakers are paying out for carbon credits and other emissions penalties, it’s not uncommon to see EVs and plug-ins being discounted much lower than their window sticker in order to move units.
While these are five potential areas where electric trucks could potentially win buyers over, there’s an equal number of arguments why electric pickups are going to have an even harder time than electric cars. That’s what we’ll be looking at next time