The Race to Electric Pickup Trucks
Pickup trucks are some of the best-selling vehicles in America—and, until recently, they've remained gas- or diesel-powered. However, since the teasing of a Tesla electric pickup back in 2017, more than seven manufacturers have announced versions of their own.
A race is on. There's a new market for electric pickups, and manufacturers—both established and newly founded—are rushing to put all-electric trucks into production.
The Major Players: Ford, Tesla and Chevy
Ford, Tesla and General Motors have all announced plans for new electric pickups. They aren't the only ones manufacturing the first generation of these vehicles, but these major players are the ones who will likely have the biggest impact on the market.
The All-Electric Ford F-150
This is the only electric pickup in development that's a variant of an existing truck rather than its own model.
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup in the industry, and the news about an all-electric F-150 seemed like a big industry shift. Ford hasn't provided much information about the new truck yet, outside of a video of a prototype pulling 1.25 million pounds.
Just how much production models will be able to tow remains to be seen. Ford has given no date for the rollout of the Ford F-150, only saying it will be released before 2022.
The Tesla Pickup
The Tesla pickup does not have a name yet, but it has plenty of buzz. Tesla is the manufacturer with the most experience making electric cars—and also the most opportunity for missteps. Over the past year, Tesla has been dogged by manufacturing delays, funding setbacks and general design issues.
There are no official specs yet for the Tesla pickup, but the truck is expected to have a range between 400 and 500 miles. Elon Musk has previously tweeted that the pickup will have a towing capacity of 300,000 pounds. One teaser image of the truck has been released, and Musk has said it wouldn't look out of place in "Blade Runner." The pickup is planned to be revealed in November 2019.
Musk has said that the Tesla pickup will retail at $50,000, which most publications denounced. Time will tell if Tesla can produce an electric truck that is affordable.
The Chevy Electric Pickup
GM President Mark Reuss has confirmed that General Motors is developing a complete electric line that will include a pickup. Official details beyond this have been scarce. GM higher-ups have been hinting at an electric truck for some time now, but the comment from Reuss back in June was the first real confirmation.
In the electric pickup race, we'll see if old manufacturing differences hold steady. The Ford F-150 was notable for switching from an all-steel body to an aluminum one. Commentators suspected Chevy might follow Ford's lead, but the manufacturer stuck with steel. According to GM's North America President, Alan Batey, a switch to aluminum was never seriously considered, despite Ford's move.
For Chevy, it looks like steel is still king. Aluminum didn't seem too enticing after recent advances in steel production resulted in new, lighter-weight alloys. We don't know a lot yet about the new GM/Chevy line, so it's impossible to say what the new electric pickup will mean for the battle between steel and aluminum.
The Newcomers: Rivian, Bollinger Motors and Atlis
Tesla isn't the only EV manufacturer rushing to deliver an electric pickup. Two Michigan-based startups, Rivian and Bollinger Motors, and the Arizona-based Atlis are all looking to beat the major players to the market.
The Rivian R1T
Rivian was totally unknown when it brought the R1T pickup to the LA Auto Show in late 2018. Now, less than a year later, the brand is considered one of the leading electric pickup manufacturers—and may even be the first to the market.
Like the Tesla pickup, the Rivian R1T seems designed to outpace the most common criticism of electric vehicles—their limited range and lack of power. According to the latest specs, the R1T will be able to tow up to 11,000 pounds—almost as much as the 12,000 pounds Elon Musk boasted the new Tesla pickup would be able to haul. Whether or not a 6-ton towing Tesla pickup will materialize remains to be seen.
The R1T will also have a range of 230 to 430 miles—more than triple the average EV range at its best. The rest of the specs are similarly impressive.
While looks may matter less to some, it's hard to deny the R1T is visually stunning. Similar to the renders we've seen of the new Tesla, the Rivian R1T employs a unique front-lighting setup and a less-than-traditional body. It's one pickup that will stand out in a crowd.
The R1T is planned to start at $69,000, though top levels of the model may go beyond the $100,000 mark.
The Bollinger B2
The Bollinger Motors pickup, the B2, has a different audience and aesthetic in mind. Jeep-like is the phrase most outlets are using to describe it. It's a little unfair to both companies involved, but it wouldn't be completely wrong to describe the B2 as an electric Jeep. It's a rugged, no-frills vehicle that's not going to be winning any beauty contests. In the renders and promotional materials, the B2 is almost self-consciously drab, painted in a monochrome, matte dark gray.
The B2 is expected to have a range of 200 miles, a towing capacity of nearly 7,500 pounds and all-wheel drive powered by a dual-motor system.
Like the Rivian and Tesla, the B2 looks like it will be marketed as a luxury vehicle. No price point has been announced yet, but most estimates are hovering around $75,000.
The Atlis XT
Of the newcomers, Atlis appears poised to deliver the most technically robust pickup, the Atlis XT.
The XT will feature four electric motors and independent air suspension. It's also planned to have a fifth-wheel towing capacity of up to 35,000 pounds. With a range of 500 miles, the XT will probably get you the farthest on a single charge—another pickup may come along with greater range, but 500 miles seems hard to beat.
Rather than sell different models of the pickup, each XT will be custom made to order, allowing buyers to pick and choose the features they're after.
The XT looks closer to a traditional pickup truck, but also employs an interesting front headlight setup and some interesting, techy features. It has replaced the side mirrors with driving assistance cameras that broadcast to two screens on either side of the steering wheel.
The Outside Bet: Fisker
Fisker is Henrik Fisker's second attempt to create a lasting luxury car brand, launched after his first failed in 2013. This time, it just may work.
In August, Fisker teased the announcement of an electric pickup truck. It is the third electric vehicle to be mentioned by Fisker's new outfit. No specs have been announced yet. However, Fisker has floated the possibility of a one-minute charging time and a 400-mile range when discussing the EMotion, the electric car that will be the company's first to the market.
It's not clear how much attention the new Fisker truck warrants. In the less charitable words of Electrek's Editor-in-Chief, Adam Lambert, "should you even care?" So far, the new Fisker has announced five cars and brought nothing to market—not an impressive start.
Even as the electric pickup market becomes more crowded, Fisker may be worth keeping an eye on. Henrik Fisker's design resume remains impressive, and there's always the chance of an upset.
The First Electric Pickup to Market
All these pickups are bound to run into the same problem: It's not clear if there is a market for these trucks. While sales in some markets have begun to flag, EV car sales are steadily rising in Europe and the United States. Does anyone actually want an electric pickup, though?
The downside of electric pickups—their difficulty to repair and the need for charging stations that aren't universally available—may be enough to dissuade rural customers. These are going to be expensive trucks—even Musk's optimistic price point of $50,000 puts these pickups firmly in the realm of the luxury vehicle.
However, that hasn't stopped just about every truck manufacturer from throwing their hat in the ring. Only time will tell if this is another step in an electric vehicle revolution or an odd misstep for American manufacturers.