Pickup trucks are quintessential American vehicles, being the ultimate fusion of utility and freedom. Americans’ love affair with these large vehicles can be gauged from the fact that trucks dominated the nation’s best-selling vehicles and even outsold passenger cars for the first time ever in 2020. Automakers also benefit big from reliable sales and high profit margins associated with pickups.
On one hand are the immensely popular pickup trucks and on the other is the electric vehicle (EV) revolution that’s transforming the future of mobility. While electric cars are taking off in a big way with customers spoilt for choices, pickups have been rather slow in shifting gears to electric. But that’s about to change soon. The combination of the ruggedness of pickups and technically advanced and sophisticated electric solutions is paving the way for the availability of the green versions of your most-loved vehicles.
Auto biggies are realizing the potential of the e-pickup market, which is set to explode in the coming years. Legacy automakers including
Ford ( F Quick Quote F - Free Report) , General Motors ( GM Quick Quote GM - Free Report) and Stellantis ( STLA Quick Quote STLA - Free Report) , EV king Tesla ( TSLA Quick Quote TSLA - Free Report) , and e-mobility startups like Rivian ( RIVN Quick Quote RIVN - Free Report) are racing fast to bring electrified trucks to the market. Rivian’s R1T- the First Entrant
Rivian was the first company to bring an e-pickup to the consumer market, beating other automotive giants. It unveiled prototypes of the all-electric R1T truck at the LA Auto Show in late 2018 and started deliveries of the same in September 2021. Last month, MotorTrend named Rivian R1T the Truck of the Year, calling it “the most remarkable pickup truck we've ever driven.”
The base price of R1T is $67,500. Rivian notified that preorders for its truck and SUV rose from around 48,000 at the end of third-quarter 2021 to about 71,000 as of mid-December. The preorders, however, were mostly for those versions of R1T that had small battery packs, providing a range of 314 miles on a single recharge. In order to cater to the larger chunk of preorder holders, the company has decided to push back the timeline of big battery pack trucks.
GMC Hummer EV & Electric Silverado to Lift Competition
The second electric pickup to hit the market was GMC Hummer EV. General Motors announced the commencement of customer deliveries of GMC Hummer EV pickup last month. Reportedly, it sold just one e-pickup last month. In fact, per media sources, GM delivered only 26 all-electric vehicles (including one GMC Hummer EV pickup) in the fourth quarter of 2021. Tesla’s CEO Musk was fast to take a dig and tweeted that GM has “Room to improve.”
The GMC Hummer EV pickup, priced between $80,000 and $111,000, has a range of 350 miles on full charge and can go up to 60 miles per hour (mph) in roughly 3 seconds. Powered by the Ultium battery technology, the first GMC HUMMER EV pickups were manufactured at Factory ZERO.
Yesterday, the auto giant also officially unveiled its first electric truck under the Chevy brand at the CES gadget show. The truck will be available in two configurations, an RST First Edition and a fleet-oriented Work Truck (“WT”) model, both flaunting a cutting-edge mix of performance, capability, technology, and style. The first variant to arrive in spring 2023 will be the Silverado EV WT, with the largest battery pack promising a range of 400 miles on a full charge and up to 10,000 pounds of trailering capacity.
Electric F-150 Lightning to Steal the Show
Meanwhile, it’s Ford that seems to win this e-pickup race with the electrified version of the top-selling vehicle in America — F-Series trucks. Going by impressive preorder numbers and output ramp-up plans, Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning truck shows immense promise. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the F-150 Lightning is the most anticipated vehicle of 2022. A couple of days back, Ford stated plans to nearly double F-150 Lightning e-pickup production at the Rouge EV Center in Dearborn to 150,000 units per year.
What’s more impressive, Ford already has 200,000 reservations for e-pickup (compared with Rivian’s combined preorders of only 71,000 for R1T pickup and R1S SUV). An intriguing trivia is that more than 75% of F-150 Lightning reservations came from customers who are new to the Ford brand.
Deliveries of the 2022 F-150 Lightning pickup will commence this spring, at a starting price of $39,974. Striking features include 10,000-pound max towing capacity, 775 pound-feet of torque, up to 300 miles of range, zero-to-60 in 4.5 seconds, onboard electric power for your work tools and adventure toys with 11 outlets, 9.6kW of backup to "off-board" and power your house up to 3 days, and fully-connected vehicle intelligence for range, load, and charging calculations as well as mobile software updates.
Tesla’s Cybertruck — Much Delayed & Too Radical
Tesla grabbed huge eyeballs when Musk first unveiled Cybertruck in 2019. With a wedge-like shape, ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless-steel body and armored glass windows, the design of Tesla’s Cybertruck is quite extreme. There will be three models, with the cheapest — priced at $39,900 — having a 7,500-pound towing capacity, a range of 250 miles and a startup speed of 0-60 mph of less than 6.5 seconds.
Initially scheduled to hit the roads by 2021-end, the timeline of this futuristic pickup has been pushed back many times. Last year, Musk warned of Tesla’s potential threats in Cybertruck production due to features like the steel exoskeleton body (which requires entirely newfangled production methods) and anticipates volume recognition from the EV as late as 2023-end. Despite discussions of delay, Musk took the opportunity to create a positive buzz about the Cybertruck and said: “It will be a special project. Like a glitch in the Matrix. Like if Neo had a car.”
Six days into 2022, it seems that the production timeline of Musk’s beloved pet project may be getting delayed yet again. We say this as the EV behemoth has deleted Cybertruck 2022 production estimate from its official website. While there is no confirmation on the delay, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Tesla further postpones e-pickup.
Stellantis to Catch up With Electric RAM
At its EV Day held last year, Stellantis announced that it would be launching an all-electric RAM pickup in 2024. While that would give its American counterparts including General Motors and Ford a head-start of a couple of years, CEO Carlos Tavares doesn’t seem much worried about the same. In fact, he believes that it would give the company a chance to gauge the capabilities of other products in the market and make necessary tweaks. Tavares said, “We are preparing the EV pickup trucks for 2024, and we are doing it by adjusting the specs and adjusting the performance in function of what we see coming up from our competitors.”
Stellantis currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see
. the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here Final Thoughts
An era of electric pickups is underway. While Rivian has had the first-mover advantage in the e-pickup market, it might be short lived as the race is intensifying by the day. Traditional carmakers like General Motors and Ford are revving up their electrification game. While deliveries of GMC Hummer EV have already begun, Ford seems to be striking just the right chords with customers with the F-150 Lightning. With Chevrolet Silverado EV to hit the market by next year, RAM 1500 in 2024 and not to forget the controversial Cybertruck, competitive juices are flowing.
E-pickups are indeed likely to become tickets to high sales in the electric vehicle market. To find out who is going to create the best electric truck and lead this race, we will have to wait a couple of years more.