SAN ANTONIO – Ford Motor’s new F-150 Lightning is an electric pickup truck. That might seem obvious given that it looks like a truck and has electric motors and a battery pack instead of a motor, but it has to be said.
Why? Because a successful battery-powered pickup is a critical step in the transition to electric vehicles, for Ford and the industry at large.
While industry leader Tesla has proven that consumers will buy EVs and Rivian Automotive has shown that there is a demand for electric lifestyle vehicles, the F-150 is the most significant test yet of whether EVs differ from compliant vehicles and niche trucks switch to a product that meets the requirements will attract more mainstream buyers.
The electric pickup truck market, while still largely unproven, will be important to investors for years to come. Trucks traditionally have fat profit margins and account for about 20% of vehicles sold in the U.S., according to auto intelligence firm Edmunds.
LMC Automotive expects the US electric pickup truck market to grow from about 25,000 vehicles this year to about 1 million by 2030. Five electric pickup truck models are expected to hit the market this year, and that number is expected to grow to 21 in the next decade.
Ford’s F-150 Lightning is the first conventional electric pickup truck. It’s not a GMC Hummer EV “Supertruck”. It’s not a Tesla “cybertruck”. It is not a Rivian R1T “adventure vehicle”. It’s a pickup, electrified.
The F-150 Lightning’s perks are similar to the Hummer EV and Rivian R1T, but these electric pickups — the only ones currently sold in the US — aren’t the same. The three drive differently and will appeal to different buyers once sales move past early adopters to more general, EV-curious buyers.
The Lightning lives up to the F-150 name in function and form, acting as a bridge between the traditional pickup truck people are familiar with and a new electric vehicle. Aside from the powertrains, some design tweaks, and an optional 15.5-inch control screen, it shares many of its designs and parts with its traditional sibling.
It’s also priced like a traditional pickup truck, ranging from around $40,000 to over $90,000. That’s similar to Ford’s current lineup of full-size four-door pickups, and equates to average prices of about $61,000 for a full-size pickup, according to Cox Automotive.
Ford was in a unique position to bring an electric pickup truck to the mass market. The F-Series lineup, including the F-150, has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 40 years and the top truck for 45 years.
The company set out to make an electric version of the F-150 pickup truck, and they succeeded. The vehicle functions as a full-fledged truck. But electrification brings added benefits of essentially instant torque, more storage space through a massive front trunk or “frunk” where an engine would traditionally reside – and it removes the burden of having to fill up with gas.
The Lightning drives like an F-150, and that’s no bad thing. Ford and other automakers have increasingly transformed pickup trucks from rugged work trucks into comfortable vehicles capable of navigating smoothly on and off-road.
The vehicle’s large battery makes for an even better ride as it keeps the vehicle more grounded and offers a closer 50:50 weight ratio for better balance. In addition, it offers a smooth towing experience as electric vehicles do not require gear changes, which is especially noticeable when towing cargo.
While the Lightning is capable of scaling hills or even a bit of rough terrain, it doesn’t quite match the Hummer or R1T in that regard – but that’s by design. This is a truck aimed at mainstream buyers, not a niche segment. Ford may eventually offer a vehicle this robust, but it’s not.
The F-150 Lightning produces up to 580 horsepower and 775 foot-pounds of torque. Consumer models with their top-of-the-line 131kWh battery start at around $72,500 and have a range of up to 320 miles on a single charge. Its towing capacity is up to 10,000 pounds – between that of the Hummer and R1T. Vehicles with smaller batteries and a range of 230 miles are cheaper but also offer less power.
Electric Ford F-150 Lightning
One of the Lightning’s most unique advantages over the Hummer and R1T is its ability to generate electricity onboard. Ford equipped the vehicle with power outlets and a two-way charging system that, depending on energy use, can power a job or home for up to 10 days in the event of a power outage.
Ford began deliveries of the F-150 Lightning to select fleet buyers and more than 200,000 reservation holders earlier this month. The company hasn’t announced when it will reopen its order bank, as it plans to ramp up production to 150,000 vehicles by mid-2023.
The Rivian R1T has a certain first-mover advantage in the electric pickup market; Production started last fall but is slowly ramping up. The R1T is both performance and off-road capable, going from 0 to 60 mph in about three seconds like a sports car, but can climb rocks or big hills like a Jeep SUV.
Its vegan leather and real wood interior and exterior design is Tesla-like chic rather than off-road brute. It’s also a much smaller vehicle — about 16 inches shorter, in fact — than the F-150 Lightning, making it more comparable to a Ford Ranger or Jeep Gladiator.
This speaks to how Rivian positions its products as “adventure vehicles”. That’s how Jeep has described its SUVs for years, making Rivian a bigger threat to SUV brand Stellantis than the F-150.
For now, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe agrees, telling CNBC in a recent interview that the three pickups are “pretty different products.” Cross-shopping between the Rivian R1T, the Hummer and the F-150, he said, is extremely low: “The goal and goals are clearly different.”
Edmunds reports that buyers looking at the R1T most often compare the Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover and other electric vehicles, rather than other pickups.
However, Scaringe has alluded to plans for a full lineup of vehicles at Rivian, which could theoretically include a larger truck.
Rivian R1T electric pickup
Starting prices for the R1T range from $67,500 to $85,000. Currently available vehicles have a range of up to 314 miles on a single charge with a 128.9 kWh “big” battery. Four-engine performance versions combine to produce 835 horsepower and 908 foot-pounds of torque. The vehicle can tow up to 11,000 pounds — an important metric for many pickup truck owners.
There’s a reason GM resurrected Hummer, a brand notorious for its excessive, gas-guzzling vehicles in the 1990s and 2000s. Whether you loved or hated Hummers, you knew them. That means GM had brand recognition branded as long as the new electric vehicle stayed true to its form for the brand, and it does.
The Hummer EV pickup looks like a modernized version of its descendants. It’s big, flamboyant and extremely powerful.
Instead of swallowing gas, it drains a lot of energy. The electric Hummer is reportedly the least efficient electric truck of the three at 47 MPGe, an EV range equivalent to miles per gallon. That equates to 70 MPGe for both the R1T and F-150 Lightning. But again, it’s lobster, so what did you expect?
The Hummer’s off-road capability also stands out when compared to the other two pickups, which explains its lower efficiency and weight of more than 9,000 pounds.
This Hummer easily climbs rock climbs and, with GM’s Super Cruise system, demonstrates a smooth driving experience on the road and exceptional hands-free driving on the highway. It also features removable roof panels that fit in the vehicle’s trunk and many other special and hidden features including a “crab walk” mode and faster charging than the other trucks.
GM put everything it had and more into the Hummer in terms of off-road and performance parts. The starting price of $110,000 is a testament to that, ahead of cheaper variants expected in the years to come, which could start at $79,995.
GMC Hummer EV Edition 1
The current top-end Hummer, despite its weight, can hit 0-60 mph in about three seconds with its “Watts to Freedom” or “WTF” mode. It can produce up to 1,000 horsepower and 1,200 foot-pounds of engine torque. Its range on a single charge is up to 329 miles with a 212.7-kWh battery pack (of which 205 are usable, GM says). It can tow up to 7,500 pounds, the lowest lift of the three electric pickups.
Unlike the Rivian pickup, Edmunds reports notable cross-shopping between the electric Hummer and its less rugged competitors. Buyers interested in the Hummer look more to the R1T and Lightning than any other model for comparison.
However, this crossover still only represents about 9% of those truck seekers.
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/11/f-150-rivian-hummer-how-electric-pickups-stack-up.html How electric pickups stack up in price and range