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Ford F-150 Lightning joins flurry of electric pickups: Will these EV trucks be a hit?

Ford F-150 Lightning joins flurry of electric pickups: Will these EV trucks be a hit?


Ford F-150 Lightning joins flurry of electric pickups: Will these EV trucks be a hit?

After years of rolling out compact electric vehicles that haven’t sold particularly well, the U.S. auto industry is pairing EV technology with a body style that fits Americans’ lifestyle a little bit better: pickups.The Ford F-150 Lightning is poised to make its debut tonight, making a splash as the first electric version of the nation’s best-selling vehicle.On one hand, Ford is late to the party, as several of the automaker’s competitors have already revealed electric pickups.On the other hand, it’s just on time, since none of those EV pickups are actually available for delivery quite yet.But will Americans actually buy them?”How well do they sell? What is the market? Who are the buyers for those? Are EV pickup truck buyers the same as traditional pickup truck buyers?” asks Michelle Krebs, executive auto analyst at car-buying site Autotrader. “There’s so many questions about that pickup truck market.”Here’s a rundown of what electric pickups have been revealed and what it will take for them to be successful:Biden takes the wheel of new F150 electric truckPresident Joe Biden is back behind the wheel and bolting down the track. The self-described “car guy” takes a spin in the new Ford F-150 Lightning truck during a visit to a Ford safety testing center. (May 18)APFord F-150 LightningAs it’s often been said, Ford could eliminate all of its vehicles except its F-series lineup of pickups, and it would still be a Fortune 100 company.Yes, the F-series – which includes everything from the F-150 light-duty pickup to the F-450 heavy-duty pickup – is a true juggernaut in every sense of the term. But that doesn’t mean people will buy an electric version of the pickup. For the F-150 Lightning to be successful, it will need to deliver serious utility.After all, that’s what the lion’s share of F-150 buyers are looking for. They tow. They haul. They use their vehicles for work.This is probably why two years ago, Ford released a teaser video showing an F-150 equipped with the electric version’s powertrain towing a train weighing more than 1 million pounds.”They’re going to have to pound that home because traditional truck buyers have very specific demands for durability and uptime because, remember, a lot of these are used for business and capability, towing and all-wheel drive,” Krebs says. “Nobody knows that better than Ford.”That’ll certainly go a long way toward convincing buyers to take the plunge. But other factors, including the availability of charging stations and price, could remain significant obstacles.Tesla CybertruckIt’s starting to feel like the Tesla Cybertruck’s debut was a distant memory since we haven’t heard much about it lately.Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the futuristic-looking steel-bodied, bulletproof electric pickup in November 2019. At the time, he said it would arrive by late 2021.At this point, it would be shocking if the Cybertruck achieves that goal, as the automaker is focused on increasing production of its Model Y SUV.Plus, with the auto industry struggling to get supplies of semiconductor chips that are crucial to the production of all vehicles, including electric cars, it seems unlikely that the Cybertruck will arrive this year.When will it hit? Musk, the consummate promoter, isn’t saying much. Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up for free hereCould long-gone cars make comeback?: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge classic cars offer opportunity”In the background, we’re continuing work” on the Cybertruck, Musk told investors in an April 26 earnings call.He’s said before that refundable deposits for the Cybertruck have exceeded Tesla’s expectations.But converting those deposits into purchases will require proving that Tesla can efficiently manufacture the vehicle’s unusually jagged body style while maintaining its promised electric range and sufficient utility.But if Tesla manages to deliver a version with up to 500 miles of range, as it promised in 2019, at a starting price of $69,900, it’ll have a good shot.GMC HummerBack from the dead, the Hummer brand is poised for a revolution.Once known for its gas-guzzling ways in SUV form, the Hummer is making its comeback as an electric pickup under the GMC brand. General Motors has said the GMC Hummer will be available beginning in fall 2021. If it hits that timeline, GM could be the first automaker to sell a major electric pickup.But well-equipped versions of the GMC Hummer cost more than $100,000. That will obviously limit its appeal. Though with some 350 miles of range and 1,000 horsepower, it will definitely turn some heads.Rivian R1TNever heard of Rivian? You probably will soon.Widely respected in the auto industry for its deliberative approach to the development of electric vehicles, this startup has some big-time investors, including Ford and Amazon. The R1T made its debut in November 2018, drawing attention for its sleek design and sensible manufacturing plan, which includes taking over a former Mitsubishi factory in Illinois.For the Rivian pickup to be successful, though, it will have to overcome a lack of name recognition and dealerships. Tesla has done so by selling vehicles online and operating a network of stores where people can place orders.Will Rivian have enough runway to replicate that model when it says it will begin deliveries in the summer? Originally slated to start at $67,500 with more than 300 miles of range, it could have the right technical specifications to entice people to give it a try.Chevrolet SilveradoGM recently confirmed that it will make an electric version of the Chevrolet Silverado, its best-selling vehicle and one of the three best-selling models in America.This was pretty much guaranteed. The automaker can’t afford to lose ground to its archrival, Ford, when it comes to pickups.But we don’t know much yet about the electric Silverado, except that it will get more than 400 miles on a single charge. The lack of details or photos suggests that it will come out sometime after the F-150 Lightning.That might be OK. Pickup buyers are famously loyal to their preferred brands. Chevy buyers might be willing to wait.Plus, GM has had an edge on Ford in the development of electric vehicles so far. Let’s see if that translates into better utility for the electric Silverado compared with the F-150 Lightning. Lordstown EnduranceLordstown Motors, a startup, enjoyed a run of excellent publicity in 2020 when it announced an investment from GM and detailed plans to revive the former GM plant in Youngstown, Ohio, which was shut down when the Chevrolet Cruze was discontinued.The company revealed the Endurance electric pickup with a base price of $52,500 and a range of more than 250 miles.But the company has endured a streak of bad news since then.Lordstown reportedly failed to pay $575,000 in real estate taxes due in March, faces several lawsuits from investors who claim they were defrauded and has dealt with reports that one of its prototypes caught fire after 10 minutes of a test drive, according to the Associated Press.The company, which blamed the tax issue on an administrative error, had said that it would begin production in the fall.But a decline in the company’s stock price from nearly $31 in February to less than $11 on Wednesday suggests investors have lost some of their initial optimism.You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.

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