SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 BY SUZIE ROMIG
It’s difficult to think that a big and burly pickup truck might appeal to an avid environmentalist, but both startup and well-established automakers are readying full-electric versions that are both emissions free and lose nothing in the way of sheer might and muscle.
Ford and General Motors made news earlier this year by confirming that they both have electrified pickups in development for a coming model year. High-tech upstarts Rivian and Bollinger have already revealed new lines of battery-powered haulers and will soon be joined by Tesla. The question is, will anyone buy them?
For starters, pickup owners are already arguably the most brand-loyal buyers in the auto business, and at that hard-core aficionados might never consider making the switch from an internal combustion engine to electrification, even if gas prices hit $5.00 or even $10 a gallon. We’re sure many truck owners would never consider an electric vehicle of any kind just because they perceive the genre as being upper class snobbish. While the latest electric vehicles are able to exceed 200 and even 300 miles on a charge, they still have a finite operating range. That can render them impractical for rural pickup truck owners who tend to put a considerably higher-than-average number of miles on their rides each day and as yet have no access to public charging
Also, basic work-truck EV pickups could well become a boon to fleets. They afford economical operation, with well-documented routes that could easily accommodate a given model’s operating range. Charging would occur overnight where the trucks are headquartered.
• Rivian R1T. With sleekly futuristic styling that will likely appeal more to the Tesla crowd than Ford F-150 owners, startup automaker Rivian is expected to debut the R1T pickup for the 2020 model year. To be built at a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Ill, it will pack a quad-motor all-wheel-drive system to facilitate both high-speed maneuvering and low-speed rock crawling. The company says the R1T will be able to reach 60 mph in just three seconds and tow a maximum 11,000 pounds. Three battery sizes are planned, with the top unit claimed to be good for a range of 400 or more miles. The automaker is even promising hands-off autonomous driving on the highway. It will reportedly start at around $69,000.
• Bollinger B2: Another fledgling electric-vehicle maker, Detroit-based Bollinger is planning an electric pickup to be called the B2 for introduction in 2021 or 2022 as a follow-up to the B1 SUV that’s in the works for 2020. The B2 is about as masculine looking as it gets, with boxy Tonka Truck styling. It will come with a removable windshield, door panels, roof, and rear seat. A full-length pass-through hatch at the rear of the cabin will enable carrying long objects. The B2’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive system is said to put 614 horsepower to the pavement. Bollinger claims it will sprint from 0-60 mph in four seconds, tow up to 7,500 pounds, and run for 200 miles on a charge.
• Tesla Pickup: Not to be outdone, Elon Musk says a Tesla truck is in development and will be revealed later this summer. Musk refers to the pickup’s appearance as “cyberpunk,” whatever that means. In a series of Twitter tweets Musk revealed the truck will have six seats, come with dual-motor all-wheel-drive, deliver 400-500 miles of range per charge, include a 240-volt connection for heavy-duty tools, and boast up to what would be an incredible 300,000-pound towing capacity. And he says it will start at $49,000. Those are lofty promises even for Musk, and he has the coming Roadster and Model Y to launch in the meantime, so we’ll take this with the proverbial grain of salt.
• Ford F-150 Electric. Ford says both plug-in hybrid and full-electric versions of the industry sales-leading F-150 full-size pickup are in the works. Reports suggest the electrified F-150s would arrive sometime after the pickup’s next scheduled redesign, which will probably be during 2020 as a 2021 model. No further information has been released, though the truck is expected to share some components with Ford’s upcoming Mustang-related electric crossover SUV, albeit with a larger battery and burlier components.
• General Motors Electric Pickup. GM acknowledged earlier this year that it also has an electric pickup truck in the works and that it would sell at “very average transaction prices.” It will ride on GM’s third-generation global EV platform, which will underpin many of the automakers’ new electric vehicles in the coming years. No details are forthcoming, but if it’s riding on a specific platform it may well be sold under a new nameplate, rather than as a Chevy Silverado. GM has committed Cadillac to being the company’s “vanguard” division for EVs, beginning with a large electric SUV to be built on the aforementioned BEV3 platform, so there is a possibility it may wind up there.