Up until now, electric pickup trucks have been a thing of theory, but now the race is on to get them to market. Rivian this week splashed all over social media that production of the RT-1 electric pickup has begun. Elon Musk keeps talking up the Tesla truck. And Ford gathered media to show off an all-electric F-150 prototype towing over 1 million pounds of railroad cars.
It’s a nice publicity stunt, and plenty of mainstream as well as automotive media outlets are eating right out of Ford’s hand because of it. But what does towing a million pounds on tracks really mean? After all, back in 2012 a Toyota Tundra towed the space shuttle Endeavor, but the truck wasn’t known for boasting the best tow ratings. Mini recently used its new electric Cooper SE model to tow a Boeing 777. Does that mean you can use the little car to take your boat to the lake?
The funny thing is not too long ago Elon Musk claimed on Twitter the new Tesla truck would tow 300,000 pounds and the reaction was a huge negative. But here we have Ford towing 1 million pounds on rails, and it’s endless praise. Go figure.
Aside from all the hype and controversy, you have to ask just how quickly will people adopt electric pickups? Some technophiles argue that once truck owners get a taste, they’ll never use gas or diesel again. Others view truck owners as backwards and against progress, already using that as an excuse for the seemingly inevitably low adoption numbers.
To be fair, in many areas people literally rely on their truck for their livelihood. They want tried-and-true solutions, so new technologies make them uneasy, and understandably so. And to be realistic, with automakers struggling to get enough materials to make lithium-ion batteries in any meaningful volume, that alone will be enough to keep the supply and subsequently the adoption numbers low. In other words, don’t expect to see electric trucks just dominating the market anytime soon, unless batteries that are easier to manufacture are developed.