In many ways, electric pickups like the Hummer, the Cybertruck, and the Ford F-150 do make sense. Electric vehicles are fast and powerful, and because they have fewer moving parts than their internal combustion engine friends, easier to maintain. Electric pickups are likely to cost more upfront than nonelectric ones for a while yet—the average full-size pickup is $50,000, according to Kelley Blue Book—but buyers may save money in the long run.
For automakers, pickups are a great opportunity: they have high margins and are more profitable than most other passenger vehicles. The rash of startups making electric pickups and SUVs is not an accident. Their higher prices make it easier to “hide” the upfront costs of research, development, and batteries than with a cheaper sedan or compact.
Plus, pickups—albeit less expensive ones—are the most popular cars in America. Rule the electric pickup market, the logic goes, and you rule the future. “If suddenly everyone wants an electric truck, that would put automakers already making them in a favorable position,” says Caldwell, the Edmunds analyst. No one wants to be left behind.
Still, today’s electric pickup might not be the breakthrough vehicle that the EV faithful were waiting for. To win the US market, you will eventually have to reach beyond car nerds and the folks who are prepping for dystopia.
To move the world from gas can to plug, automakers will need to convince the everyday driver to change their behavior, Caldwell says—to take a chance on a still unpopular technology, to remember to charge overnight or at work, to figure out where the local charging station is, if it even exists. “It’s one thing to get enthusiasts excited about this vehicle,” Caldwell says. “But if you can’t get mainstream consumers excited, what’s the point?”
This story first appeared on wired.com
Listing image by Tesla