The world’s hottest segment, the pickup, looks to go electric. But it’s not happening without some hiccups along the way.
Making cars is hard, so the saying goes. Making cars in 2021 is even harder given a global chip shortage and persistent supply chain issues. And making electric vehicles in 2021 is turning out to be yet harder still. The historic shift to electric propulsion in the highly profitable pickup truck segment just happens to coincide with one of the most challenging times for manufacturers since the 2008 Great Recession. The result is a lot of well laid plans requiring modification. All those cool electric trucks on the horizon? They are just a little further off than we thought.
Ford’s upcoming all-electric version of the F-150, the Lightning, has been pushed back until the spring of 2022. This despite the fact that Ford says they have completed some pre-production versions of the truck just this past week. Even with the delayed start to full production, Ford says the Lightning will be built in “limited quantities” in its first year with production ramping up to an estimated 80,000 units per year by 2024.
Start-up automaker Rivian has seen its own delays to their R1T pickup, originally planned for production by late 2020. Despite kicking the can down the road a few times over, Rivian says they’ve started production on Launch Edition versions of the R1T and units should be reaching customers within the next few weeks. The Launch Edition comes with just over 300 miles of range and will be followed in the production schedule by the Launch Edition of the R1S SUV. A longer-range version of the R1T (up to 400 miles), sporting a larger battery pack, is planned to follow shortly.
Watch this space of further delays on the longer-range versions, however. Rivian has a lot on its plate right now. Not only are they just beginning to get their electric trucks into production, they’re also currently working on getting their Amazon EV delivery trucks to production in their Normal, Illinois facility. The company says they intend to expand production with the addition of another plant in the near future.
Either way, that the upstart company is the first to market with an electric truck is certainly impressive.
Also no strangers to ambition, Tesla has been forced to delay their Cybertruck, revealed back in 2019, numerous times over the intervening years. Production is now slated for some time in 2022. The Tesla Gigafactory in which the Cybertruck is to be built has also yet to be completed in its planned location of Austin, Texas.
Unlike the rest of the electric truck segment, the Tesla Cybertruck is still being tweaked and modified. The single motor RWD version is planned to go into production first, followed by a two-motor AWD version, and finally by the much-hyped tri-motor version and its combination supercar speed and 500-mile range.
Like all things Tesla, there may be a decent gulf between the hype and the reality, whether that’s the actual start of production or the actual capabilities of the vehicle. One thing that isn’t up for grabs is the Cybertruck’s polarizing looks. Tesla CEO and real-life Bond villain Elon Musk says those sharp angles and stainless-steel body panels look like they were “made by aliens from the future,” and he doesn’t really care if the vehicle is a flop due to its too-cool-for-school design.
Ford, Rivian, and Tesla may have had to push back the production of their electric trucks, but the rest of the automotive world isn’t far behind. GM is still planning on getting their upcoming electric Hummer into production by the late fall of this year and their electric version of the Silverado by 2023 or 2024 at the latest. Stellantis has the RAM electric truck targeted for 2024 as well. But even a two-year head start looks to be a major advantage for Ford and Rivian (and Tesla if they can hit their target of 2022).
In related news, Toyota just unveiled the third-generation Tundra with an all-new hybrid powertrain. After waiting fifteen years between major overhauls, we can reasonably expect the electric version of the Toyota Tundra to hit production by around 2035.