Say, Will People Actually Purchase EV Pickup Trucks To Stop Climate Apocalypse?

Mostly, no. Maybe some of those coastal elites who will buy them for status

Automakers Are Going All In on Electric Pickups. Will Anyone Buy Them?

Mitchell Yow’s pickup truck has decals advertising that the vehicle is all-electric, but sometimes people aren’t convinced. “That’s not really electric, is it?” bystanders will ask, often approaching him in grocery store parking lots in Surprise, Arizona, where Yow and his company Torque Trends, which makes gearboxes for converting gasoline vehicles to electric, swapped out the hulking Ford F-150’s V8 engine for an electric motor. The result doesn’t look like any zero-emissions vehicle most people have seen. “Even though they see it, and they read it, they don’t believe it,” says Yow. “They’ve never heard of an electric truck.”

That’s likely about to change. As automakers’ investments in electric vehicles (EVs) ramp up, pickup trucks are fast becoming a new front in the electrification wars. Manufacturers from Tesla to Ford are unveiling electric pickups—just last week, General Motors said it will deliver a 400-mile-range electric Chevrolet Silverado—though they have yet to hit the market. For automakers, the potential rewards are huge, as pickups accounted for one in five new cars sold in the U.S. in 2020. Environmental gains could be big, too. When it comes to typical highway or city driving, pickups are disproportionately wasteful; even the newest models have dismal fuel economy ratings. Getting pickup drivers to switch to more efficient options is essential if the U.S. is to decarbonize its economy, and electric pickups could also help automakers reach fleetwide fuel efficiency targets.

But for now, the possibility of mass conversion to electric pickups seems tenuous at best. Most EV buyers so far have been wealthy coastal dwellers, while pickup buyers tend to live in different areas of the country, often with different values and needs. “We’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” says Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs. “We’re always saying internally, ‘Do you think anybody really wants an EV pickup truck?’”

That’s a good question: do they really want one? Do you think people who are using their pickups for actual work, ones which have decades and decades of reliability, dependability, and durability built into them, want to switch? How much more will these cost? Prices for the Silverado, meant for release in 2023, haven’t been released, but the estimates say they will be way above a regular Silverado.

For one thing, there might not be a huge overlap between people currently interested in EVs and those who buy pickups. Historically, EV adoption has been the highest in liberal-leaning coastal states, especially California and Washington. States where pickups rule the roads, like Texas, Wyoming, and North Dakota, tend toward big skies and conservative values. On an individual basis, survey data have shown EV and hybrid buyers tend to lean Democratic, while pickup drivers lean Republican. One Oct. 2020 Strategic Vision survey showed that more than 50% of heavy-duty pickup buyers identify as Republicans, while less than 10% say they are Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats bought 36% of midsize hybrids and EVs, compared to less than 20% bought by Republicans. Electric pickups’ potential is further limited by the fact that many states with high numbers of pickup drivers tend to have the worst EV charging infrastructure.

Even then, you aren’t finding that many Democrats switching to EVs, because they cannot afford them.

There’s also a deeper issue with some of the upcoming vehicles themselves. Auto industry analysts say that many of the new electric pickup trucks set to hit the market, like the Tesla Cybertruck, the Rivian R1T, and GM Hummer EV, appear to be aimed more at wealthy “lifestyle” buyers (coders who go rock climbing on the weekends, for instance) than “traditional” pickup truck buyers (who are more likely to use them for, say, pulling equipment around a farm or hauling building materials). That might mean that, in the near term, electric pickups might cut into sales of luxury EVs like the Tesla Model S rather than reduce demand for internal-combustion pickups.

The only way the switch happens is if Government forces people to do this. Few auto buyers are asking for this.

It is cute how the accompanying photo for the story used the reflection of an American Flag, though, eh?

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16 Responses to “Say, Will People Actually Purchase EV Pickup Trucks To Stop Climate Apocalypse?”

  1. Dana says:

    That nice, shiny, silver pickup? I have a 2010 Ford F-150, with 169,400 miles on it. It’s dirty, got some mud on the wheel wells where I had to four-wheel-drive my way out of a muddy field, and it looks like what it is: a work truck!

    This is how a work truck gets used:

    Used the tailgate as a sawhorse, and misunderestimated where the tailgate was as I was cutting a sheet of plywood. https://www.thepiratescove.us/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wacko.gif

    The tailgate was used as a workbench just yesterday, as my wife was using my sliding compound miter saw to cut some cedar for an Adirondack chair she wants to build. I did have to do the jigsaw cuts for her.

    Right now, there is a big, flattened cardboard box as well as some pulled up chicken wire in the bed of the truck.

    Because I have separate electrical service in my shop/garage, I suppose that I could use a plug in electric F-150, as long as it had four-wheel drive; I frequently have to take the truck into the fields. But a lot of older farms around here don’t have the type of electric service I have.

    • Dana says:

      Note that the black plastic top edge of the tailgate is gone; that got dislodged pushing a load of 57 stone out of the bed of the truck. The brownish stains? That’s primarily polyurethane from putting finish coats on wood. Yes, I have a shop now, but when the weather is decent, I prefer to work outside.

    • Professor Hale says:

      Congratulations on your truck. I have a Toyota 4runner, 2003, with 313,000 miles on it. Exterior still looks almost new. Inside is pretty beat up from all the drywall sheets, plywood, 2x4s and PVC pipes I have hauled from time to time. A pickup with full sized bed would make the sheet products easier to haul. Maybe a new Tundra is in my future. If this darned 4runner would just wear out.

      • Dana says:

        The only reason I bought the 2010 F-150 is that my 2000 F-150, which I bought while living in the flat land of Hampton Roads, was only two-wheel drive. Once I wound up in the Poconos, I found that I needed four-wheel drive at times during the winter.

        I’m not putting miles on it nearly as fast anymore, and I can reasonably hope that the 2010 will be my last truck.

  2. Dana says:

    Me, showing my sister how to use the miter saw, on the tailgate of my truck, to cut some trim. This photo is from September of 2014. Mrs Pico and I had just bought the farmhouse, and were doing some work to get it acceptable to rent out.;

  3. drowningpuppies says:

    Culling the herd…

    “I think Autopilot’s getting good enough that you won’t need to drive most of the time unless you really want to.” — E. Musk

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/18/no-one-was-driving-in-tesla-crash-that-killed-two-men-in-spring-texas-report.html

    Bwaha! Lolgf https://www.thepiratescove.us/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

  4. Dana says:

    One (probably not) final comment: the truck pictured in our esteemed host’s main article has a full double cab, and that means a shortened cargo bed. That isn’t a work truck, but just a big passenger car with a 4½ foot bed for hauling groceries and beer. I’ve seen plenty of them on the road: large pickups — Chevy and Dodge make pickups, but Ford builds trucks! — with full double cabs, short beds with hard-top bed covers, $40,000+ vehicles without a scratch on them!

  5. Elwood P. Dowd says:

    Pickup drivers have adapted to changes before. Some were skeptical, for instance, when Ford released an F-150 with a lighter, mainly aluminum body and smaller engine in 2014, but the change didn’t put a dent in sales. Ford’s new hybrid F-150 Powerboost, meanwhile, has been a hit. In the long run, converting pickup drivers to electric—and getting low-economy older models off the roads—may be less a matter of lifestyle branding or flashy styling than of offering reliable, cost-effective vehicles capable of meeting pickup drivers’ needs. “At the end of the day, I don’t need all the luxury,” says Gehrisch. “I just need a good, solid, reliable truck.”

    People buy pickups for a number of reasons, who are we to question their motives? Freedom! Oldest grandson uses his 2005 F-150 with a shell for his lawn business. A brother has a hot-rodded S10 with 450 hp. A good friend uses his diesel Silverado on his farm and to pull his boat. And if your primary tasks are towing AND hauling kids, double cabs are perfect. Nothing tows like a truck. Or a truck-framed SUV.

    Electric pickups just aren’t as manly as a gas pickupa, are they?

    The transition to EV will be gradual.

    And what does Teach have against the American flag??? Pick-up truck peddlers have always equated their truck brands with uber-masculine patriotism. Remember, Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet? Built Ford Tough! Dodge RAM!!

    • drowningpuppies says:

      Like guns, people buy pickups for a number of reasons, who are we to question their motives? Freedom!

      Yep. So stop doing it.

      Bwaha! Lolgf https://www.thepiratescove.us/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_cool.gif

  6. Professor Hale says:

    Congratulations on your truck. I have a Toyota 4runner, 2003, with 313,000 miles on it. Exterior still looks almost new. Inside is pretty beat up from all the drywall sheets, plywood, 2x4s and PVC pipes I have hauled from time to time. A pickup with full sized bed would make the sheet products easier to haul. Maybe a new Tundra is in my future. If this darned 4runner would just wear out.

  7. Professor hale says:

    “The only way the switch happens is if Government forces people to do this. Few auto buyers are asking for this.”

    No one (75% of adults were against it) was asking for Obamacare either, but that’s what we got. Only a tiny percentage of people wanted bike lanes, but that’s what we got. COVID shutdowns? it’s just for two weeks to flatten the curve, do your part. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you can just force everyone else to do it.

    Seriously? At some point, the market will have a mix of electric and other fuel vehicles. It would be great if the market decided the winners, but sometimes lobbyists decide. If car makers eventually make vehicles that compete with current vehicles on price and performance, I’d probably get one. I’m not going to get one just because a manufacturer is getting huge subsidies. I don’t buy niche products that are marketed for the rich who can afford to buy silly things to show off their virtue. For the same reason I would never buy a Hummer.

  8. Kye says:

    I actually enjoy driving. I like the feel of the wheel in my hands and the way I can feel the road. I like the handling and roar of a big gas powered motor. I love cars. Old cars, classic cars, sports cars luxury cars. But I don’t like the feel of EV. I have nothing against them other than they have no “feel” to them. An EV is like a leftist: it can look like everyone else but has no soul. Like a big expensive golf cart.

    But not being a leftist, I say let people buy and drive what they want. Let’s see if the leftists give us the same respect when/if EV’s become ubiquitous. Somehow I doubt it. They’ll mandate by law EV’s. May even require EV passports.

    • Elwood P. Dowd says:

      I agree with Kye regarding driving. I dislike all the new electronics in cars, lane control BS, auto braking, warnings, etc. Backup cameras and tire pressure sensors not too bad.

      We disagree on the “moral hazard” attributed to electric vehicles.

      Societies come down hard on actions that harm others. Second hand smoke led to smoking restrictions. Anti-pollution laws are a thing. Intentionally spreading communicable diseases is frowned upon. To attend public schools (and most private) children are forced to get immunized against childhood diseases. Wildly shooting guns into the air on holidays is illegal in most cities, as are many fireworks. We have laws prohibiting excessive vehicular noise. Drunk driving is a crime.

  9. Dana says:

    Mr Dowd wrote:

    I dislike all the new electronics in cars, lane control BS, auto braking, warnings, etc. Backup cameras and tire pressure sensors not too bad.

    Tire pressure sensors, good, but if you need a backup camera, you shouldn’t be driving. My vehicle has three back up viewing devices; they’re called mirrors!

    My real pet peeve on electronics? Power windows! Yes, they’re great for allowing the driver to put up or down windows other than his own, but they’re something expensive when they break.

    Even worse are these electric windows that you just touch the down button, and they go all the way down. Then you have to raise them by holding the raise button until it reaches the point you want; that’s double the wear and tear on the device.

    But my wife’s car is the absolute worst: a 2012 Buick Verano, the windows go all the way back up when you use the raise button, and it’s very difficult to get the damned window to stop where you want it if you want it only half way down. I can see those things failing, and soon.

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