In April, Ford started production on the electric version of the F-150 pick-up truck, which has been the best-selling vehicle in the country for decades. Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, said the launch is a “big bet by the company.” It’s also a big step for the environment, as the company hopes to encourage more electric vehicles sales as a result.
EV sales currently make up 9% of sales for the global automotive market. In the U.S., the percentage is even less, at 4.5%. By offering electric versions of vehicles that are already popular with the American consumers, the hope is to increase this share.
“But whether Ford will be able to convert the large numbers of F-150 loyalists across the country to the ‘Lightning’ remains an open question,” the BBC reports.
One of the biggest barriers for U.S. consumers is the time it takes to charge EV batteries and how long the charge lasts. Explains one current F-150 truck owner, “In my truck right now, I can get 500 to 600 miles out of a tank and I can fill my tank in about five to eight minutes and be back on the road. An electric truck, you can only get so far and then you’ll have to stand and wait [to charge it].”
In 2021, Ford sold more than 700,000 F-150s. Now Ford has about 200,000 pre-orders to fulfill for its EV F-150. Just like other automakers, Ford faces production obstacles caused by shortages in computer chips, batteries, and other parts, especially as the auto company aims to keep the starting price for their new model at about $40,000, around the same price as regular pick-ups after government incentives.
Chris Jones, chief analyst at the research firm Canalys, says it’s “crucial” for Ford that the launch go well.
“Ford has been slow to move to [electric vehicles]… It’s really fallen behind,” said Chris Jones, a chief analysis, to BBC News. “This is an important category of vehicle and it’s a super important category for Ford to succeed in.”
President Biden has set a target of 50% of EV sale shares in the U.S. by the year 2030. Ford’s goal is to go completely electric in Europe by 2030 and the company says it’s on track to deliver more than two million EVs every year by the year 2026 thanks to a $50B investment in electrifying its fleet.
Beating Ford to the punch, EV startup Rivian released the first electric pick-up last year — the R1T, which won 2022 Truck of the Year from MotorTrend. “The $67,500 all-electric pickup aims to be a rugged, more outdoorsy alternative to Tesla’s cars and SUVs. It features four-wheel drive, a slew of interesting features, and tremendous off-road capabilities, all wrapped in a sleek, luxurious package,” writes Business Insider. Rivian delivered 920 electric trucks in 2021, and as of the beginning of March, they’ve so far produced 2,425 vehicles. And many more car makers, including, notably, Tesla and GM, are setting to work on electric trucks of their own.
Despite unknowns, there are indications of a growing demand for EVs, as sales of electric vehicles and hybrids doubled in 2021, reports the BBC, even despite the unprecedented pandemic market.
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