Ford Leads the Race to Put America in Electric Pickups

The Lightning and Maverick are both attractive options. The rest of the field, well, there are challenges.

The Ford Maverick EV could reinvigorate the small truck field.
The Ford Maverick EV could reinvigorate the small truck field. .


Want an electric pickup? Well, you can’t have one—right now. Despite the American love affair with trucks, automakers have been in the slow lane getting batteries into a pickup—but that’s changing rapidly. There are at least eight of them coming out soon. 

It’s too early to pick a winner, but I’m going to do it anyway: the Ford F-150 Lightning. By plugging in America’s most popular vehicle, giving it an attractive array of features (including the ability to charge your house in a blackout), and pricing it at under $40,000 to start, the company has leaped to the front of the pack. And taken 130,000 reservations by the beginning of September. The consumer interest led Ford to double its estimate of sales by 2024, from 40,000 to 80,000. The first Lightnings will be delivered to customers in spring 2022. 

Ford said this week it will spend $11.4 billion to build three battery plants, and a fourth dedicated to its electric trucks. The Lightning will be complemented by the equally attractive Maverick, a small hybrid priced at $20,000. There are 100,000 orders for the Maverick, and most are opting for the electrified two-wheel-drive version

Let’s look at some of the competition. Tesla made a splash with its radically styled Cybertruck, but it keeps delaying the program. Theoretically, there will be a one-motor version of the Cybertruck for $40,000, but we’re going to see the three-motor $70,000 first. The first could trickle out in late 2022 at the earliest. Ford will have a head start. 

Tesla’s Cybertruck has been repeatedly delayed.
Tesla’s Cybertruck has been repeatedly delayed.


General Motors has a multi-vehicle strategy, leading with the Hummer SUT pickup. Prices (and capability) are sky-high. The three-motor Edition 1 this fall will sell for $112,595, and it will have more than 300 miles of range, up to 830 horsepower, and zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. This edition is already sold out. If you want the more modest 625-horsepower two-motor version with a 250-mile range ($80,000), you’ll be on hold until 2024. I don’t quite get it. 

The electric version of the popular Silverado pickup will have a stellar range of more than 400 miles from its Ultium battery pack, but we don’t know a whole lot more. There will also be a GMC version. My guess is that GM is trying to figure out the appropriate price tag, given Ford’s shot across its bows. 

Lordstown Motors may be the pride of Ohio, but it’s already stumbled badly. The Endurance has a fairly attractive $52,500 price, with 250-plus miles of range and 5.5 seconds to 60 from a 70-kilowatt-hour pack, but it’s unclear when the factory will start shipping vehicles to customers. The company said in June that there’s “substantial doubt regarding our ability to continue as a going concern,” and the SEC and Department of Justice are reportedly investigating. But wait! A lifeline might come from Foxconn, which is in talks to buy the company’s former GM plant. 

I’m bullish on Rivian, which has made a lot of smart moves. The pickup is the R1T, complementing the R1S SUV, and in mid-September, the first one (in “Rivian Blue”) came off the assembly line in Illinois. The Launch Edition is priced at a fairly off-putting $75,000, but of course, cheaper ones are coming (the Explore in 2022). 

Rivian could be said to have a range advantage over Ford. The R1T in launch plumage has 314 miles of range. The Lightning is at 230 in its base version—but remember, it’s much cheaper than that Rivian. And Ford has now said it will make a 300-mile extended range version of its base Lightning Pro work truck for $49,974. 

Rivian is stressing performance and off-road prowess. The R1T with the $10,000 Max battery pack (135 kilowatt-hours) will be able to get to 60 mph in three seconds. Lots of people will like it, but Rivian is a new brand. 

Rivian’s pickup will stress performance and off-road ability. Initially, it’s pricey.
Rivian’s pickup will stress performance and off-road ability. Initially, it’s pricey.


This week, Mesa, Arizona-based Atlis, an EV startup aimed at fleets, showed off an XT heavy-duty pickup with claimed 500 miles of range and (via megawatts of electricity) charging in just 15 minutes. Wow! But this crowdfunded company is a long way from series production (despite initial claims of production in 2020) and will have to back up its huge claims. The 500-mile-range truck will start at $78,000, and there will be lesser versions with 300 and 400 miles. The verdict: don’t worry, Ford and Rivian. Auto journalist Brad Berman compared the XT to Rivian’s R1T and concluded, “Anybody who thinks the two companies are equally viable has been inhaling emissions from a Ford F150.”

Michigan-based Bollinger made a splash with its B2 $125,000 off-road pickup. It boasts 614 horsepower and 4.5-second zero to 60 times, but the 120-kilowatt-hour battery gives it a target range of only 200 miles and the cabin is bare-bones plain. There’s a B1 SUV also, and both are very boxy. Production is supposed to start late this year, but it’s hard to imagine this being any more than a niche product. Bollinger insists that the $40,000 Lightning did not knock a hole in its plans. 

So that’s the field. The only definite home runs wear the Ford blue oval.