With 200,000 Reservations Since Last Week, Tesla's New Cybertruck Ignites Interest in Electric Pickups
After Tesla revealed its futuristic looking Cybertruck last Thursday, many people were surprised by its unique angular appearance. Despite the Cybertruck's unusual appearance, reservations for it topped 200,000 in just a matter of days according to Tesla. The slew of reservations might be a good indicator of the growing interest in electric pickups.
The pickup segment one of the biggest, most profitable segment for U.S. automakers, selling over two million trucks each year. Pickup sales have already topped 2.1 million in 2019 YTD, according to data gathered by Statista and there is still one month to add to that total.
These pickups are often advertised by highlighting their horsepower, utility and towing capabilities. Electrification promises to make pickup trucks even more powerful and reliable with less maintenance, yet surprisingly no major automakers have released one yet. Although that's about to change.
Not to be upstaged by Tesla, U.S. automakers are getting ready to follow Tesla's lead with plans to introduce their own electric models. Automaker are warming to the idea that truck buyers can be convinced to embrace electrification, as Tesla and other electric truck startups are stepping up to become a formidable rivals.
Tesla's Cybertruck is threatening to lure some truck buyers away from highly profitable gas-powered models from General Motors, Ford and Dodge, which is no easy task since truck buyers are some of the most loyal customers out there.
Tesla is hoping to lure buyers away from the Ford F-150, the best selling truck in the U.S. for over 40 years.
In April 2019, Ford Motor Company invested $500 million in Michigan-based electric truck startup Rivian. Ford plans to use an electrified vehicle platform developed by Rivian as the base for an upcoming electric F-150. Ford first confirmed that it is working on an electrified F-150 in January and will apparently do so with Rivian's help.
Ford's electric F-series pickup truck is expected to debut in late 2021, sources familiar with the plans have said to Retuers.
Rivian's electric pickup has impressive specs compared to gas-powered models from GM and Ford. Rivian's fully-electric R1T pickup can produce up to 750 horsepower with a max towing capacity of 11,000 lbs. The R1T can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds and has a range of up to 400 miles per charge.
For comparison, Ford's most powerful F-Series Super Duty pickup equipped with its 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8, which the automaker says is the most powerful diesel engine has ever built in the company's history for the F-Series pickup. The diesel engine produces 475 horsepower, while Ford's 7.3-liter gas-powered V8, the most powerful gas engine ever offered in Ford Super Duty line of trucks, is rated at 430 horsepower.
While these power figures are respective numbers for an internal combustion engine, they are much less than the specs of Rivian's R1T and Tesla's new Cybertruck. Musk said previously that the Cybertruck would have better specs the the F-150 and cost less than $50,000.
To further demonstrate the power of Tesla's Cybertruck, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk released a video showing the electric Cybertruck in a "tug-of-war" with a Ford F-150, with the F-150 losing. The widely shared video shows the Cybertruck pulling the F-150 uphill to show off its towing capabilities.
The fully-electric Rivian R1T
The same day of the Cybertruck's unveiling, Ford's biggest truck rival General Motors announced that its first electric pickup truck model will go on sale in the fall of 2021, the company's top executive Mary Berra said at an investor event in New York, which is around the same timeline of Tesla's Cybertruck and Ford's battery-powered F-150.
"General Motors understands truck buyers and people who are new coming into the truck market," Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said at an investor conference in New York on Thursday. "It will be a very capable truck, I'm pretty excited about it."
It was the first time GM announced a date for when its first electric pickup truck would arrive.
GM sold over 800,000 pickups in the U.S. in 2018.
For GM the competition from new EV startups is even closer. The automaker's former assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio which closed earlier this year after GM axed the Chevy Cruze sedan that was built there, has been sold to electric vehicle manufacturer Lordstown Motors.
Lordstown Motors has a licensing deal and a 10% stake in Ohio-based electric truckmaker Workhorse. Workhorse plans to build an electric pickup called Endurance at GM's former factory. According to Reutuers, Lordstown executives have said they plan to start production of an electric truck in Lordstown in late 2020, with prices starting at $52,500.
A rendering of the Lordstown Motors Endurance electric pickup.
Other truck startup working on fully-electric models include Bollinger Motors. Bollinger's fully-electric utilitarian, all-wheel-drive B1 pickup produces 614 horsepower and 668 ft-lb torque with a 7,500 pound towing capacity.
Tesla intends to built around 50,000 Cybertrucks per year, while Rivian plans to built around 25,000. GM and Ford both expect to begin building premium electric pickups in late 2021 at Detroit-area assembly plants. Each company expects annual electric truck production to hit around 40,000 by 2024, analysts have said.
While these numbers might add up to just a small portion of overall truck sales, once these new electric trucks prove their might and win over truck buyers, its looks as though they'll be here to stay.
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