Do Cowboys Dream of Electric Trucks?

The most popular vehicle in the United States of America is the Ford pickup, specifically the F-series. Ford Motor Company is adding an all-electric version of the F-150 to their fleet, called Lightning. You can go to the Ford website and place an order for the 2021 model.

Electric vehicles (“EVs” to the cool kids) are big business. All the major automakers in the world are committed to electrifying their offerings, with some going so far as to renounce internal combustion engines entirely. Not to mention the host of startups and newer outfits (like Tesla) emerging as players in the global marketplace.

I live in a place where the diesel-powered pickup is more than just a vehicle. It’s a way of life. It’s a cultural and political statement. Ranchers and farmers do a lot of hauling and towing and other jobs requiring a powerful, multipurpose machine that is only partly a means of conveyance. Builders, for the most part, drive fancy pickups with utility racks. They can hardly go to work without them. Recreation-minded folks like to haul boats and trailers. They like to go off-roading. They like their rigs big and powerful.

But lots of folks around here do none of those things and yet still drive large pickup trucks. They go back and forth to Wal-Mart and Starbucks with them. They go shopping in Medford. They never leave the pavement and in fact hardly get their trucks dirty. But they’d react in horror if you suggested they’d be better off driving a Honda Civic!

There are a million EVs on the road in this country. By 2030 there will be at least 15 million and maybe even as many as 20 million. That’s still a small portion of the 250 million total vehicles that will be out there, but the adoption rate will likely keep growing.

EVs were weird cars for weirdos when I was a kid. Now we have Tesla and EVs have become the hip, stylish alternative even if they haven’t quite cracked the middle-class market. They remind me of the Macintosh computer which made Dells and HPs and other Windows machines look positively stodgy. Like the Mac, Teslas are still a bit spendy for most folks.

Enter Ford Motor Company. Ford is a behemoth. Ford accounts for 5-6% of all the vehicles in the world. It’s bigger than Detroit’s other behemoth, GM. Only Toyota and VW sell more cars and trucks than Ford.

Ford isn’t getting rid of its diesel and gas-powered pickups. The Lightning is an addition to their lineup, not a replacement for existing models, at least not yet. But Ford is betting big on the EV momentum. They’ve promoted the Lightning as a work truck, making it competitive with existing fuel-burners in payload, towing, engine power and torque. It will be a four-door five-seater with full-time 4WD and all the other bells and whistles expected in 21st century vehicles. Obviously the big drawback with EVs is range, but Ford is betting that most people will realize that 90% or more of their truck use will be close to home. Moreover, charging networks are popping up all over, and with phone apps directing you to the nearest one, long-haul trips will become more practical. Not to mention home-charging will be an option as well.

The cool thing about an electric truck is that it is a mobile power plant. The batteries store a lot of electricity. You can go out in the woods or to a remote job site and have AC power plugs aplenty. In fact, the Lightning can power your home for short periods in the event of a power outage! Ford says its truck can offload up to 9.6 kilowatts. Sure beats firing up that loud, smelly generator.

The EV has gone mainstream. It’s no longer for hippies, enviros, liberals, and snowflakes. Ford is about as All-American as you can get. The F-150 is thoroughly manly, and no one will question your patriotism if you drive one.

As Ford’s CEO Jim Farley put it recently:

“There are lots of flavors of soda, but there’s only one Coke, and there’ll be lots of electric pickup trucks, but only one F-150.”

https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/19/22442777/ford-f-150-lightning-electric-truck-specs-price

So, do cowboys dream of electric trucks?

2 thoughts on “Do Cowboys Dream of Electric Trucks?

  1. I’m awaiting the day when the outside “skin” of EV’s will serve as a solar panel, collecting energy and re-charging your battery. We’re not far off I think. May not work too well if you live in coastal WA. Sunny CA is another story though.

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