Get charged: Electric trucks and SUVs are coming

Dear Pat: I was an electric vehicle skeptic, but I just saw an announcement of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning. I didn’t realize electric pickups could be this compelling or competitive. Are there other electric pickups or SUVs coming out soon? – Mike

Dear Mike: The Ford F-150 Lightning is changing minds across America about what an electric vehicle can do. In fact, Ford declared this is their best truck to date … not best electric vehicle, but best truck. Period.

Electric SUVs are available now and pickups will be soon. This development has been anticipated for years. Electric vehicle (EV) sales are about 24 times higher than they were 10 years ago, with several factors driving demand:

  • The instant torque from electric motors boosts acceleration.
  • The low center of gravity improves handling and reduces rollover risk.
  • The superior traction control of electric motors can increase off-road capability and safety in winter.
  • The upfront cost of an EV purchase is now more competitive with similar internal combustion models, and most EVs qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.
  • The cheaper operating fuel cost per mile (for electricity) compared to gasoline or diesel is another attractive feature for drivers.

Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning is scheduled to arrive in spring 2022, starting under $40,000 for the commercial trim package (230-mile range model). A 300-plus mile battery is an option, and all models are 4X4 with respectable towing and payload capacities. The Lightning is also equipped to provide 9.6kW of home backup power or portable power for a jobsite.

Tesla has more than a million preorders for its new Cybertruck, which will likely arrive in 2022. The 250-mile range 2WD model starts under $40,000 and steps up to $50,000 for the 300-mile range 4WD model. Tesla plans to offer a 500-plus mile range version for $70,000 that can tow more than 14,000 pounds.

GMC has announced a late 2021 release of an electric Hummer with 1,000 horsepower and additional features for off-road performance.

Rivian, a startup backed by billions of dollars from Ford and Amazon, is planning to unveil its R1T electric pickup later this year. Built in Normal, the R1T delivers a 300-mile range with up to 11,000 pounds towing capacity. Beginning in January 2022, a 400-plus mile will be available.

Crossover SUVs (CUVs) are one of the most popular types of vehicles, and several manufacturers say they’ll have electric models available soon. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is available now with a range up to 305 miles, starting at $45,000. Volkswagen’s ID.4 CUV starts at $40,000 and is available with AWD options. More electric SUVs are coming, including Rivian’s R1S, Nissan’s Ariya and Volkswagen’s six-passenger ID.6.

It’s not just vehicles that are shifting to electric. Electric snow machines and jet skis are arriving soon. Even large construction equipment like excavators, backhoes and heavy-duty trucks will have electrically fueled models.

One remaining hurdle for increased EV adoption in rural areas is fast, sufficient charging for longer trips. Most EV owners charge at home, but more fast-charge stations on rural highways will be helpful.

Photo: Ford’s all-electric F-150 Lightning, arriving spring 2022, can provide portable power to a jobsite. Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company