Wait on That Rivian or EV F-150? Four Big Reasons to be Weary of Electric Pickup Trucks
Last week we took a bird's eye look at the upcoming wave of electric pickup trucks that are set to take America by storm over the next few years and specifically focused on areas where electric trucks may be superior to their gas-powered counterparts. But, for every positive there’s often a negative, and there are also plenty of reasons why electric trucks may have a hard time catching on—even when compared to electric cars, which are still pretty limited in adoption at this time.
Here are four big challenges electric pickups will likely face as they enter the market and attempt to become mainstream.
Regardless of price, driving range is still the number one factor for electric vehicles. But some types of driving are much better suited to EVs than others.
If you simply drive a fixed amount of miles to work and back everyday, run errands around town and take only the occasional road trip, then it’s not terribly difficult to adapt to an electric car. Right now basic urban and suburban commuting is where EVs shine.
And while there are plenty of people who use pickup trucks as their commuter vehicles, their usage often goes far beyond that. Whether it’s hauling material, traveling to remote work sites or heading out for a weekend of camping or off-roading.
And for electric trucks to truly be as versatile as gas trucks, it’s likely going to take some major improvements in range or charging.
Towing & Hauling
That brings us to towing, another area where trucks provide a lot of service as both work and play vehicles. The issue around EV pickups towing its not so much the capability, as torquey electric motors should provide plenty of raw towing capacity, it’s their effect on efficiency.
Whether it’s gas or battery power, towing (or even just carrying a heavy load) is going to require more effort, and while towing with a gas or diesel truck will give you less miles per gallon, range isn’t an issue given the abundance of fuel stations across the country.
Towing with an electric vehicle will not only decrease efficiency, it will also have a large effect on real world range. And because a lot of truck owners tow trailers significant distances, towing with an EV is likely to bring major range anxiety. Because who wants to run out of charge towing a travel trailer in the middle of the desert?
EV supporters will tell you that in the coming years roadside charging stations will be far more plentiful and charge much faster than they do right now, but that’s no guarantee and it doesn’t help anyone who might be considering an electric pickup for the near future.
As we mentioned in the first part of this series, there’s no doubt that electric pickups are going to carry high MSRPs, and their true effective price is going to depend a lot on available incentives, tax credits and regional rebates.
Some companies like GM have already reached the limit for the federal tax credit, which means that their electric trucks will end up being quite a bit more than Ford, which still has long way before reaching its limit.
Traditional pickup trucks aren’t known for being cheap either, but one thing they do have is excellent resale value. In fact there are few new vehicles that hold their value better than a full-size pickup.
Because of the rapidly advancing tech that comes with electric cars, EVs are notorious for having poor resale value, and that’s a reason why many of them are leased rather than bought.
Time will tell whether electric pickups buck this trend, but it’s another obstacle they will have to overcome when winning over traditional truck buyers.
Old School Loyalty
Where a typical Tesla buyer might be someone who is always looking for the latest and greatest tech and likes trying new things, pickup buyers are often the opposite.
For example just look at Toyota’s trucks, which despite having old school, “outdated” powertrains sell in larger numbers every year. For many of their buyers, the old school nature of the platform is a good thing.
Many pickup owners buy trucks from the same brand over and over again, and it can be hard enough getting them replace their old V8 with a turbocharged EcoBoost engine, let alone getting them to embrace a totally new source of fuel.
All of this is not to say that electric trucks can’t work. Just look at the link below to see the reasons they can work.
But with the best selling vehicles in America being trucks and more state governments pushing to ban new gas vehicle sales altogether in the next 10-15 years, automakers have a lot of work ahead of they are going to pull this off.