America’s three best-selling vehicles, nearly every year, are full-size pickup trucks. The Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Ram 1500 consistently fill that podium year after year.
The automotive industry, meanwhile, is going electric. Even in a year when overall auto sales numbers are sliding due to worldwide supply-chain issues, sales of electric vehicles continue to grow.
The biggest question in the automotive world is how these two trends will intersect. Will Americans line up to buy electric trucks? Or will skepticism that a battery-powered truck can haul and tow like the gasoline- and diesel-powered pickups Americans rely on win out?
Ford has a partial answer. This week, the Michigan-based automaker announced that it has taken more than 160,000 paid reservations for the all-electric F-150 Lightning.
About the Lightning
The Lightning is a battery-powered version of America’s best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150. Set to reach sales lots in spring, it comes in several flavors. A bare-bones work truck with 426 horsepower and 230 miles of range carries an asking price of just under $40,000. A fully-loaded luxury truck with 563 horsepower and 300 miles of range can run as high as $90,000.
The Lightning can be used as a backup power source for a home in the event of a blackout.
Some Skeptics Remain
Americans have expressed skepticism about electric trucks, questioning whether they can fill every role we depend on our trucks to fill. Ford says the Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds properly configured and that it calculated ranges with a hypothetical 1,000-pound payload in the truck.
At the Head of an Electric Truck Parade
The Lighting is just the first of a herd of electric pickups coming to dealerships soon. In January, Chevy will debut its own electric Silverado, and Ram has promised an electric Ram 1500 by 2024. Chevy’s GMC unit has two electric pickups on the way – the off-road-oriented GMC Hummer EV Pickup and an electric GMC Sierra to follow the Silverado.
Tesla caught headlines with its futuristic Cybertruck, though that model has now been delayed. U.S. upstart Rivian Motors, meanwhile, won the race to deliver the first electric truck into customer hands in September.
Reservations Aren’t Necessarily Buyers
We should caution that it’s much easier to reserve a Lightning than to buy one. A reservation requires just a $100 refundable deposit. In the current market, dealers might have an easy time finding a buyer for any truck they are left holding after a canceled reservation.
And 160,000 is also just a small portion of F-150 sales. Ford sold more than 172,000 gas-powered F-150s in just the third quarter of this year.
Tesla says it has taken more than 1 million refundable deposits for the Cybertruck.
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