Will EV Pickups Convert Truck Buyers, or Mostly Attract Early Adopters?

Jay Ramey
Photo credit: Autoweek
Photo credit: Autoweek

From Autoweek

The previous decade has proven that early adopters will pay a premium for electric cars regardless of range or practicality, and that EVs can still find an audience at a much lower price point by being a practical solution. This is why electric cars mostly existed at two opposite ends of the price spectrum about a decade ago: High-priced sedans at the top end of the market such as the Tesla Model S, and commuter hatches just above the $30,000 mark, represented by the Nissan Leaf. In close orbit around these two EV pioneers were small groups of competitors that recorded much smaller sales, but were clearly variations on a theme.

What is also true about the state of EVs in the past decade is that the Model S sought to compete directly in price with large, gas-engined executive sedans, but early EV hatchbacks were still priced well north of similar-sized gas-engined models. So when it came to practicality, those buying EVs as commuter cars rather than a luxury good had to pay a premium.

This condition is predicted to change in the coming decade as less-expensive EVs begin to compete more directly with gas-powered models. The Tesla Model 3 might have taken a stab at this goal, even though base-spec models never quite landed in any great number to compete directly with similarly sized gas-engined sedans, but the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Nissan Ariya, due in mere months, might give similarly-sized crossovers a run for their money.

But another big test in the coming decade is whether electric pickup trucks can compete with gas- and diesel-engined models in price and in capability.

Of course, the giant electric-pickup wave arriving in the next two years will be aimed at different needs and at different pockets. At the top end we'll have vehicles like the GMC Hummer EV, priced around $100,000 at first, while at the other end of the price spectrum we should see more moderately priced models from Ford, Chevrolet, Rivian and likely Tesla. Most of these will at least make an effort to compete in price and capabilities of gas- and diesel-engined models, while still carrying an EV premium, but they won't be double the price of comparable models.

This is perhaps one of the most crucial tests EVs face in the coming decade in the U.S.: Will electric pickup trucks be able to compete with gas- and diesel-engined trucks in price, or will they remain vehicles for early adopters?

We're not talking about direct competition in every use case. If you own a cattle farm in South Dakota and frequently have to tow a horse trailer hundreds of miles, the Tesla Cybertruck perhaps won't be your most natural choice. So not every truck segment and use will see direct competition from electric trucks, at least not immediately.

But will electric truck models priced closely to gas- or diesel-engined trucks be able to attract casual truck buyers, the kind looking at a gas-engined Ford F-150 and an electric one after buying a string of F-150s over the years?

Let us know in the comments below.