The age of the electric pickup truck has (almost) arrived, and with it the promise of all of the torque and none of the tailpipe emissions.
Newcomers including Rivian, Bollinger, and Tesla are launching electric pickup trucks in the next few years. And America’s Big Three won’t cede market share on a segment they’ve dominated for half a century. Ford and GM have confirmed electric pickups due in the next two years. And in the most obvious sign of changing times, GM’s return of the Hummer might show that even a brick-like, gas-guzzling affront can evolve into a modern electric hero.
The image of the hard-working American and the hard-working V-8 truck have been culturally married for decades. Nothing works harder, or sounds like it’s working harder, than a massive 6.0-liter V-8 engine and the rugged American male who’s driving it. A quiet and more capable truck threatens to fracture the notion of American work toughness at the same time American masculinity is being redefined.
Whatever the image, electric pickup trucks provide automakers pressed on every side by global emissions regulations and a technological evolution a bullish business case: Pickup trucks provide great margins. Electric vehicles, so far, have not.
The mass adoption of EVs may come down to these pickups. The question is less about when the electric pickup trucks will arrive, but more about how much they will cost and whether they'll deliver enough range to satisfy owners when they tow and haul.
Expected delivery: Late 2020
Revealed in late 2018, the R1T pickup was launched simultaneously with the R1S SUV by the Detroit-startup Rivian and should be the first available battery electric pickup in any kind of mass-produced form. Thanks to investments from Amazon for delivery trucks and Ford for its luxury Lincoln brand, the R1T is expected at the end of this year. To be manufactured in Normal, Ill., the R1T is as long as most mid-size trucks but is as wide as a full-size truck. The short bed of 55 inches suggests a spacious cabin that may compete more with SUVs than trucks. The base model with the 135-kwh battery pack is expected to have a 300-mile range, while the upgraded 180-kwh pack should have a 400-mile range. A smaller, less expensive version with a 105-kwh pack is due a year after initial rollout. The R1T weighs a portly 5,874 pounds—a few hundred pounds more than a generously equipped full-size gasoline pickup—but hits 60 mph in 3 seconds.
Possible delivery: 2022
Whether you love its steampunk styling or you think a 5-year-old punk could design something more realistic, the Cybertruck is happening. And although deposits have flooded in, we strain to believe it will live up to the concept that dominated headlines following the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The stainless-steel wedge with a 100-cubic foot vault instead of a cargo bed allegedly can carry 3,500 pounds or tow up to 14,000 pounds, seat six, hit 60 mph in under 3 seconds, and have a 500-mile range. Not all at once, of course, unless Elon Musk tweets it to be so. It starts in rear-wheel drive but all-wheel drive is available; Autopilot, adaptive air suspension, and a 17-inch touchscreen are all on the features list.
Possible delivery: Early 2021
Don’t let this stripped-down, rivet-riddled electric box truck fool you: there’s nothing basic about the Bollinger B2 or its B1 SUV counterpart. Boxy like a first-gen Hummer with a much more utilitarian military vibe, this massive aluminum truck comes with a massive $125,000 price tag. But it has all the unique charm of a limited-run boutique upstart, and some will find it cooler and truckier than the Cybertruck. Foldable and removable panels provide some distinction, as does a longitudinal pass-through, allowing for a 16-foot-long item to stretch from hood to bed. It has a 120-kwh battery pack powering a motor on each axle to generate 614 hp and 668 lb-ft of torque, with an expected 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. It can tow 7,500 pounds and carry up to 5,001 pounds. Range is expected to be 200 miles. Oh, and if this gives it any more rugged credibility, it’s a Class 3 truck, which means it’s exempt from some passenger-vehicle safety standards.
Possible debut: 2021
America’s best-selling vehicle for more than four consecutive decades has made serious strides in fuel economy over the past decade, from smaller turbocharged engines to lightweight aluminum body panels. Those innovations only bolstered its position as a best-seller. Aside from a promotional video showing an electric prototype pulling ten double-decker rail cars loaded with 42 gas-powered F-150s 1,000 feet—with no disclosure of the electric F-150’s gear ratio—not much is known. A hybrid F-150 is coming before the electric one.he pressure is on, and it’s expected to have similar specs as the R1T. Ford invested $500 million in Rivian in April, but that investment appears to be dedicated to an all-electric SUV for Lincoln based on Rivian’s skateboard platform.
Possible debut: Fall 2021
Late to the game, General Motors has the infrastructure and plans in place to build a family of electric trucks and SUVs at the former Detroit-Hamtramck plant that made the Volt. Other than that, there haven’t been many details about the electric pickup and whether it will be a Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac.
If the Hummer brand can be reborn as an electric vehicle, then we expect contrails of bacon flying overhead—and, of course, a version with a pickup bed. The GMC Hummer is happening, even if the few details that have been released seem as likely as raining bacon, including an 11,500 pound-foot of torque rating. The reborn Hummer debuts May 20, 2020.