Into the Future
Carmakers have flipped the switch on electric trucks.
If it seems like every mode of transport under the sun is being electrified to some degree, you’ve been paying attention. Everything from skateboards to personal aircraft is receiving a jolt these days, propelling the world toward the absolute tipping point for electrification.
One of the last bastions of the internal combustion engine is the pickup truck, a mode of transport designed for toughness, durability, and longevity. While these qualities may not necessarily be associated with the average EV, a new wave of electrified pickups is set to change the conversation.
The new arrivals fall broadly into three categories. There are the rogue start-ups, new to both electrification and, indeed, to vehicle manufacturing itself. There is the established set seeking to forge more eco-conscious street credibility. Then there’s the electric elephant in the room, the Tesla Cybertruck (tesla.com), parked right in the middle of the discussion. (As soon as Elon Musk elects to release this dystopian conveyance, there will be more to report; for now, a final production version is in the works and the only thing for certain is that the Cybertruck might be bulletproof.)
In the first category, we have entrants that may or may not appear as promised, pickups that land somewhere on a sliding scale from pipe dream to IPO. Take the Nikola Badger (nikolamotor.com), for example. Last year, ambitious tech start-up Nikola landed a strategic alignment with General Motors. Then the agreement was scaled back due to operational issues—and the Badger has remained in suspended animation ever since.
Fortunes look brighter for the Bollinger B2 (bollingermotors.com) and Lordstown Endurance (lordstownmotors.com), a pair of electric pickups hailing from Middle America. The former is billed as “The World’s Most Capable Pickup Truck” and, judging by the initial specifications, that seems a fair statement. The B2 will showcase a dual-motor powertrain, all-wheel drive, 614 hp, 668 lb-ft of torque, a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds, and an estimated range of 200 miles.
Meanwhile, the Endurance, which will begin production in a former General Motors plant this year, takes a different approach. Claiming to have the fewest moving parts of any motor vehicle, this electrified work truck features in-wheel motors at each corner, providing true 4-wheel drive and increased levels of control. The powertrain is expected to deliver 600 hp, a range of more than 250 miles, and 7,500 pounds’ worth of towing capacity.
The brightest light in the start-up field appears to be the Rivian R1T (rivian.com), if only because it’s set to cross the finish line first (customer deliveries are scheduled to start this June). The Rivian is one slick-looking set of wheels, undeniably futuristic in execution, but with a rugged stance. Video footage from the truck’s development and a guest-starring role in the adventure TV series Long Way Up prove that the R1T is intended to be a real workhorse with genuine off-road capabilities baked right in.
There will be three different versions of the truck by next year; the launch version delivers a range in excess of 300 miles. This battery powers four electric motors, which are mounted at each wheel. Maximum output for this setup is 800 hp and 900 lb-ft of torque, sufficient to propel this R1T to 60 mph in 3 seconds and give it a towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. The company is backed by both Ford and Amazon, so there’s some serious pull at the helm.
In time, there will be more electric trucks from established manufacturers; for now, only two have been formally announced: the Ford F-150 Electric (ford.com) and the GMC Hummer EV (gmc.com). The F-150 won’t be released until next year, so final specifications have yet to be confirmed. But a technological partnership with Rivian seems like a great start. Last year, Ford posted a video showing a pre-production F-150 Electric towing a stack of freight train cars weighing over 1 million pounds—it seems serious.
The Hummer EV looks to be not only an authentic electric supertruck, but also a fantastic vehicle for complete brand reinvention. Armed with three electric motors, the EV will have up to 1,000 hp and a massive 11,500 lb-ft of torque. There’s a launch control system—called “Watts to Freedom”—that will enable the Hummer to sprint to 60 mph in approximately 3 seconds.
Features designed for the most extreme adventures include an adjustable air suspension system, a 4-wheel steering system that lets the Hummer “CrabWalk” around obstacles, and waterproof underbody cameras. All of the launch-edition versions have been taken—a measure of how popular this thing looks to be—but you can place deposits on future versions right now.