Electric Pickup Trucks: Why Truck Fans Should Care
It Seems New Electric Pickup Trucks Are Coming from All Sides
If recent automotive announcements are any indication, we truck fans are witnessing the dawn of the E-truck wars between electric pickup trucks. These electric pickup-truck battles are shaping up to be comparable to—but markedly different from—the horsepower and torque wars waged between today's diesel trucks. Crazy talk, right? The automobile has gone from barely existing to nearly autonomous and (once again) electric in just over a century. And over the span of a few months, various manufacturers have revealed they plan to use pickup trucks as pawns in the electrification game, too. What may have been unimaginable just a few years ago is coming to fruition before our very eyes. And frankly, it seems weird. But we're going to have to get used to it.
The 2019 Ram 1500, Truck Trend's Pickup Truck of the Year, offers one powertrain that can be considered to be a mild hybrid, but that's largely it right now. Yet more hybrid pickups will be coming online from Ford, GM, and potentially others, and then come the fully electric pickups like the Rivian R1T, Lordstown Endurance, Bollinger B2, Ford F-Series Electric, GMC Hummer, and Tesla Cybertruck. Some day soon, in fact, we may be testing a fleet of electric pickup trucks to crown a Four Wheeler Electric Pickup Truck of the Year. If it all seems shocking, imagine what old timers—or even the general public—must think. Most people haven't yet driven or even ridden in an electric vehicle. (We have, and we've taken a road trip in one, too.) But even if they have, it wasn't in an EV pickup truck and could be chalked up to being a novel—and maybe even fun—experience that didn't impact our daily truck lives.
And going beyond EVs, it remains an exciting time indeed for pickup-truck fans, even excluding electric pickup trucks. Recent history has brought half-ton diesels, midsize diesels, the return of the Ford Ranger, a Jeep pickup, 1,000-lb-ft diesel trucks that can tow houses, off-road trucks that kick ass straight from factory, and so on. From big, 7.3L V-8s to itsy 2.7L V-6s, and ranging from cheap to insanely luxurious offerings, the truck market is bountiful. In a sense, truck fans may be tempted to feel content, as if the boundaries of our beloved body style have been pushed far enough and the pace of technology and advancement isn't too quick.
So we get it; adding electric rigs to the mix can feel frankly overwhelming. There's a lot to unpack, and truck guys 'n gals have more questions than answers when it comes to electric pickup trucks. First and foremost, do we even care about electric trucks? We do? We do. Because real truck manufacturers like GM and Ford care about electric trucks, it's time for us truck enthusiasts to care, or at minimum stop being dismissive and sit up and pay attention.
Is electrification the future of trucks? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. EV trucks won't make up more than a fraction of a fraction of new-vehicle sales for a long time, and we can even likely include hybrid trucks in that category, as well. Big gasoline and diesel V-8s (and I-6s for Cummins fans) aren't going anywhere. It's also hard to get excited about something you can't yet see in the metal, much less test drive, as you can a new 2020 Chevy 2500HD, for example, right now.
More questions abound. Will electric pickups pass crash testing? Will the components hold up over time? What will the maintenance look like? Will they be serviceable? Where are the charging stations, and what about overlanding in remote areas? Will they tow, haul, and off-road as well as their internal-combustion counterparts? Will they be affordable? Will the range be too impacted by big loads or aggressive off-roading? Can they be customized? Will our grandfathers disown us when we talk about kWh battery packs and motors instead of engines? What's a frunk? What will happen in a crash? What about repair bills, or DIY repairs for that matter?
But the key question is this: Where and when can we drive one? Because all skepticism aside, our real frustration lies in the fact that, deep down inside, truck fans can't help but be intrigued by those hyperquick zero-to-60-mph claims that'll glue the back of your head deep into the headrest and evoke a childish giggle out of even the greatest of cynics. We're ready for electric pickup trucks to be a thing, and to test them out. Now all we need them to do is arrive.