Ford recently announced its plans to build an electric F-150, making it the latest automaker to turn its gas-powered workhorses electric. (Want to see what it’ll look like? Check out the photos.) It will have plenty of competition from strictly electric carmakers like Tesla. How will these electric trucks compare with the gas-powered ones we know and love? We take a closer look.
The gas-powered heavyweights
Let’s start with gas-powered heavyweights like the full-size Chevy Silverado 1500. The Silverado offers up to 2,285 pounds of payload capacity and 12,200 pounds of towing capacity, depending on the configuration. Then there are midsize trucks like the Ford Ranger. The Ranger came back for 2019, offering up to 7,500 pounds of towing capacity and 1,860 pounds of payload. And when it comes to fuel efficiency, it’s not bad: EPA estimates suggest it’ll get up to 21 mpg city, 26 highway, and 23 combined.
The electric contenders
Despite the number of automakers investing in electric, only a few electric trucks are currently available to consumers. At the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, Rivian debuted its R1T, a pickup truck that, with the 180kwh battery, can go 400 miles between recharges and offers 700 horsepower and 826 pound-feet of torque with a maximum towing capacity of 11,000 pounds. Should shoppers opt for the smaller battery, 135kwh, torque stays the same while horsepower increases to 745. The smallest battery, 105kwh, offers 402 hp and 413 lb-feet of torque.
Another company forging ahead is a smaller operation based in Ohio called Workhorse. It makes the W-15, a hybrid that can tow up to 5,000 pounds and go 80 miles between charges. It also includes features that will make it friendly for shoppers that need, well, a workhorse at work sites, including a 7.2kw outlet you can use for power tools without the truck running.
The challenges of electric trucks
Automakers face a few obstacles with creating electric trucks. The first is price. We’ve talked before about the disappearance of the affordable pickup truck, and electric trucks are no exception. Prices can start at $60,000. If you add range extenders, you may be looking at an even higher price tag. Those high prices may not be a deterrent for some, but a poll of CarGurus shoppers found that they’re less willing to pay a higher price, even for a longer list of features and gadgets.
The second is capability. If you use your truck for everyday tasks, you may not need to tow 12,000 pounds. However, if you rely on your truck to help with heavy-duty tasks, you may be left wanting. The third is us, consumers: We’re wary of electric vehicles. CarGurus recently conducted a survey and found that many shoppers want more infrastructure before they’ll buy an electric vehicle.
Hybrids may be the answer (for now)
Shoppers who want a truck that will go longer between fill-ups have few options. The Chevy Silverado 1500 can come with an Ecotec V8, which disables cylinders when they’re not needed, ultimately improving fuel economy. Ford also offers its EcoBoost engine in the F-150, offering more power and using less fuel. And Ram now offers eTorque in the 2019 1500 for both the V6 and V8. But for now, gasoline-powered trucks still rule the roost.
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