Electrification of Pickup Trucks: Current Progress and Future Outlook

The electrification of vehicles in the United States has been steadily progressing, with electric cars making up nearly 9% of new vehicle registrations in the first half of 2023. However, when it comes to pickup trucks, the electrification process is still in its early stages, with only approximately 5% of electric vehicles sold in the US during that same period being pickup trucks.

One of the main challenges in electrifying pickup trucks is meeting the market demand for long range while still being able to tow and carry cargo. Pickup trucks are typically not very aerodynamic, which makes it more challenging to efficiently use the battery power. Despite this, electric pickups have a unique advantage – they can serve as a power bank, providing backup electricity for homes or powering tools on worksites without the need for a gasoline generator.

To achieve an acceptable driving range for the US market, electric pickups require large batteries. The average battery capacity of electric cars in the US was found to be 76.5kWh in 2022, but electric pickups have an average battery capacity of 145kWh, almost double that of cars. The fact that traditional Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are targeting competitive prices for electric pickups compared to internal combustion engine trucks is a testament to the advancements in battery technology and supply.

In terms of market players, start-ups like Rivian have been leading the way, with their R1T and R1S electric pickups gaining significant success. Rivian delivered over 20,500 vehicles in the first half of 2023, surpassing other electric pickup brands. However, other start-ups have faced challenges in bringing their electric pickups to market, with some even filing for bankruptcy or pausing development.

The dominance of traditional automakers, known as ‘the big three’ – Ford, GM, and Stellantis, in the US pickup market cannot be ignored. These automakers have announced plans for electrified versions of their best-selling pickup models. As these established brands begin to offer more electric options, their loyal customers are likely to transition to their preferred brand’s electric models.

Currently, the demand for electric pickups exceeds the production capability, but automakers have ambitious expansion plans. Rivian plans to produce 52,000 vehicles in 2023, while Ford and GM have significantly increased their production capacities. Tesla’s Cybertruck has also entered the market, promising potential large volume orders.

The electrification of pickup trucks is just one segment of the larger electrification trend across various vehicle categories, including two-wheelers, three-wheelers, vans, microcars, trucks, marine, construction, buses, air taxis, and trains. This trend is projected to turn the electric vehicle market into a multi-trillion dollar industry by 2044.

In conclusion, although the electrification of pickup trucks in the US is still in its early stages, progress is being made. With advancements in battery technology and the entry of both established automakers and start-ups in this space, we can expect to see a significant increase in the adoption of electric pickups in the coming years.

– IDTechEx report: “Electric Vehicles: Land, Sea, and Air 2024-2044”
– IDTechEx research and consultancy products.