2019 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Edition
If the U.S. is serious about reducing carbon emissions from road vehicles—under the current administration, the jury remains out—pickup trucks are key.
More than half of the reduction in fuel consumption in pickup trucks projected under corporate average fuel economy rules comes from improvements in the 2022 to 2025 model years.
That means trucks now being introduced will carry the brunt of that burden.
The Detroit auto show earlier this month saw the debuts of new generations of full-size pickup truck from Chevy and Ram, two of the Detroit Three's biggest truck sellers.
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado dropped 450 pounds and added mixed-material construction and a new inline-6 turbodiesel engine to boost its fuel-efficiency ratings.
The 2019 Ram 1500 lost about half that amount of weight, but added a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that goes beyond engine start-stop to recapture some otherwise wasted energy.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 'aero curtain' in front fender
Notably absent from those announcements, along with the launch of the 2019 Ford Ranger mid-size pickup truck, was electrification beyond mild hybrids.
A Ford F-150 Hybrid full-size pickup will supposedly launch during 2020, presumably as a 2021 model.
But not a peep was heard about pickup trucks that plug in, notwithstanding a claim by Tesla that it will offer an all-electric pickup within the next four years.
So we asked our Twitter followers what kind of inroads plug-in drivetrains would make into the full-size pickup market by 2025.
That's relatively soon, in automotive product cycles: the Silverado and Ram 1500 launched as 2019 models will likely still be in production that year, or just being replaced.
Our respondents were, shall we say, quite optimistic.
What percent of US full-size pickup trucks will plug in by 2025?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) January 22, 2018
Full one third of poll participants (33 percent) said plug-in powertrains would be found on one in every five pickups (20 percent) sold in 2025, or even more.
Almost as many, however (29 percent), chose the lowest option: 0 to 5 percent of total sales that year.
Another 21 percent chose 5 to 10 percent, meaning half the respondents thought the number would be one in 10 at best.
Finally, 17 percent of respondents chose 10 to 20 percent of sales for plug-in technology in big pickups by 2025.
2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke
We'll admit we're skeptical that the very traditional pickup-buying audience will opt for plug-in trucks on anything like that aggressive schedule, even assuming the makers offer them.
And we see relatively few signs that pickups with plugs are on the horizon at any of the Detroit Three much before 2025, perhaps considerably later.
As always, please note that our Twitter polls are far from scientifically valid, due to small sample size and self-selection by those who choose to participate.