How electric vans compare in price and range

SAN ANTONIO — Ford Motor’s new F-150 Lightning is an electric pickup truck. This might seem obvious given that it looks like a truck and has electric motors and a battery instead of a motor, but it has to be said.

Why? Because a successful battery-powered pickup is a critical step in the transition to electric vehicles, for Ford and the industry in general.

While industry leader Tesla has proven consumers will buy electric cars and Rivian Automotive has shown there is demand for electric lifestyle vehicles, the F-150 is the most important test. to date to find out if EVs can move from compliant vehicles and niche trucks to a product that will appeal to more mainstream buyers.

The electric pickup truck market, while still largely unproven, will be important for investors to watch in the years to come. Trucks traditionally have big profit margins and account for about 20% of vehicles sold in the United States, according to automotive intelligence firm Edmunds.

LMC Automotive expects the U.S. electric pickup market to grow from around 25,000 vehicles this year to around 1 million by 2030. There are expected to be five electric pickup models available on the market this year, and that is expected to grow to 21 over the next decade.

Ford’s F-150 Lightning is the first traditional pickup to go electric. This is not a GMC Hummer EV “supertruck”. This is not a Tesla “Cybertruck”. This is not a Rivian R1T “adventure vehicle”. It’s a van, electrified.

The benefits of the F-150 Lightning are similar to those of the Hummer EV and Rivian R1T, but these electric pickups – the only ones currently sold in the US – are not created equal. All three drive differently and will appeal to different buyers once sales move beyond early adopters to more general, curious EV buyers.

Lightning F-150

The Lightning lives up to the F-150 name in both function and form, acting as a bridge between the traditional pickup people know and a new electric vehicle. This shares much of its design and parts with its traditional sibling, aside from the powertrains, a few design tweaks and an optional 15.5-inch monitor screen.

Its price is also that of a traditional pickup, ranging from around $40,000 to over $90,000. That’s similar to Ford’s current line of large four-door pickups and in line with average prices of around $61,000 for a full-size pickup, according to Cox Automotive.

An electric pickup for the masses is something Ford was in a unique position to bring to market. Its F-Series lineup, including the F-150, has been America’s best-selling vehicle for 40 years and the best truck for 45 years.

The company set out to make an electric version of the F-150 pickup truck, and it succeeded. The vehicle operates like a full-size truck. But electrification brings added benefits of essentially instantaneous torque, increased storage through a massive front trunk, or “frunk”, where an engine would traditionally be – and it removes the burden of having to refuel.

The Lightning drives like an F-150 should, and that’s not a bad thing. Ford and other automakers have increasingly transformed pickup trucks from tough work trucks into comfortable vehicles that can navigate smoothly on and off the road.

The vehicle’s large battery provides an even better ride as it keeps the vehicle more grounded and provides a closer to 50-50 weight ratio for better balance. On top of that, it provides a smooth towing experience, as EVs don’t require transmission shifting, which is especially noticeable when towing cargo.

While the Lightning is capable of climbing hills or even somewhat rough terrain, it doesn’t match the Hummer or R1T in that regard, but that’s by design. This is a truck aimed at mainstream buyers, not a niche segment. Ford may at some point offer such a rugged vehicle, but that’s not it.

The F-150 Lightning is capable of developing up to 580 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque. Consumer models with its top-of-the-line 131kWh battery start at around $72,500 and have a range of up to 320 miles on a single charge. Its towing capacity can reach 10,000 pounds, between that of the Hummer and the R1T. Vehicles with smaller batteries and a range of 230 miles are cheaper but also offer less performance.

Electric Ford F-150 Lightning

Andrew Evers/CNBC

One of the Lightning’s most unique advantages over the Hummer and R1T is its onboard power generation capabilities. Ford charged the vehicle with outlets and a two-way charging system that can power a job site or home in the event of a power outage for up to 10 days, depending on power consumption.

Ford began shipping the F-150 Lightning earlier this month to select fleet buyers and more than 200,000 reservation holders. The company has not announced when it will reopen its order bank, as it plans to increase production to 150,000 vehicles by mid-2023.

R1T

the Rivian R1T has a bit of a first-mover advantage in the electric pickup market; production started last fall but is slowly ramping up. The R1T is capable of both performance and off-roading, going from 0 to 60 mph in about three seconds like a sports car, but it can climb rocks or big hills like a Jeep SUV.

Its interior and exterior styling, with vegan leather and real wood, looks more like a Tesla chic than an off-road brute. It’s also a much smaller vehicle – about 16 inches shorter, in fact – than the F-150 Lightning, making it more comparable to a Ford Ranger or Jeep Gladiator.

This shows how Rivian positions its products as “adventure vehicles”. That’s how Jeep has described its SUVs for years, making Rivian a bigger threat to the Stellantis SUV brand than the F-150.

For now, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe agrees, telling CNBC in a recent interview that the three mics are each “pretty different products.” Cross-purchasing between the Rivian R1T, Hummer and F-150, he said, is extremely low: “Clearly the purpose and purposes are different.”

Edmunds reports that buyers looking at the R1T most often compare the Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover and other electric vehicles, rather than other pickup trucks.

However, Scaringe hinted at plans for a full line of vehicles at Rivian, which could theoretically include a bigger truck.

Rivian R1T Electric Pickup Truck

Source: Rivian

The starting price of the R1T ranges from $67,500 to $85,000. Vehicles currently available have up to 314 miles of range on a single charge with a “large” 128.9 kWh battery. Four-motor performance versions combine to produce 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque. The vehicle can tow up to 11,000 pounds – an important metric for many pickup truck owners.

Hummer

There’s a reason GM resurrected Hummer, a brand infamous in the 1990s and 2000s for its excessive, gas-guzzling vehicles. Whether you love Hummers or hate them, you know them. That means GM had brand awareness as long as the new EV stayed true to the brand’s form, and it does.

The Hummer EV pickup looks like a modernized version of its descendants. He is tall, flamboyant and extremely capable.

Instead of wasting gas, it drains a lot of energy. The Electric Hummer is said to be the least efficient electric truck of the three at 47 MPGe, an electric vehicle range equivalent to miles per gallon. It compares to 70 MPGe for the R1T and F-150 Lightning. But again, it’s Hummer, so what did you expect?

The off-road capability of the Hummer also stands out compared to the other two pickups, which partly explains its lower efficiency and its weight of more than 9,000 pounds.

This Hummer can tackle cliffs with ease, while delivering a smooth on-road experience and exceptional hands-free highway driving with GM’s Super Cruise system. It also features removable roof panels that can fit into the trunk of the vehicle and many other special and hidden features, including a “crab-steer” mode and charging faster than other trucks.

GM threw everything it had and more into the Hummer in terms of off-road and performance parts. Its starting price of $110,000 is testament to that, ahead of the cheaper variants expected in the coming years which could start at $79,995.

GMC Hummer EV Edition 1

Michael Wayland/CNBC

The current high-end Hummer, despite its weight, can hit 0-60 mph in about three seconds with its “Watts to Freedom” or “WTF” mode. It is capable of developing up to 1,000 horsepower and 1,200 foot-pounds of engine torque. Its range on a single charge can reach 329 miles with a 212.7 kWh battery (205 of which are usable, according to GM). It can tow up to 7,500 pounds, the lowest lift of the three electric pickup trucks.

Unlike the Rivian pickup, Edmunds reports notable cross-buys between the electric Hummer and its less rugged competitors. Hummer buyers look to the R1T and Lightning for comparison more than any other model.

This crossover, however, still only accounts for about 9% of those truck applicants.

Abdul J. Gaspar