January 27th, 2021 by Steve Hanley
The electric truck competition hasn’t really started yet, since none are currently available for sale. But Ford is hard at work on its electric F-150, Rivian is about to debut its R1T, General Motors is about to unleash an electric Hummer on the world, and Tesla says it will soon offer the Cybertruck, an unconventional pickup truck that looks like nothing else on the road today — or any other day, for that matter.
A recent survey by Cox Automotive finds about 40% of shoppers who said they are in the market for a new full size pickup truck say they would consider an electric truck — a far cry from the claims we hear from manufacturers and dealers all the time about how nobody wants to buy electric vehicles. “Our research shows new EV pickup trucks are leading more consumers to consider an EV product,” says Vanessa Ton, senior manager for Cox Automotive.
Those who responded to the survey said their most important criteria when considering a pickup truck purchase were price, performance, design, and size. Those factors ranked higher than brand name or the type of work the truck would be used for. For those who prefer a truck with a gasoline or diesel engine, horsepower was a dominant factor while those who indicated a preference for an electric truck said technology was their most important consideration. Electric trucks were more likely to appeal to younger shoppers and women. You can read the entire survey report here.
Electric Ford 150 Most Popular Choice
Those who participated in the survey were shown photos of four electric pickup trucks — the Ford F-150, Hummer, Rivian R1T, and Tesla Cybertruck — all with their brand identifying markings removed. 59% said they found the F-150 most appealing. Only 19% said the same for the Cybertruck. Favorable reaction to the Hummer and Rivian were nearly identical at 41% and 39% respectively.
But when the same people saw the photos with the brand identifiers in place, the results changed significantly. Now 45% like the Ford, 32% like the Tesla, 28% preferred the Hummer and only 25% liked the Rivian. “Tesla and Rivian R1T scored well with younger buyers, and Rivian performed well among female buyers as well,” says Vanessa Ton. “The strength of the Tesla brand helps drive consideration.” she adds.
What can we learn from the Cox Automotive survey? Not much. What is shows are the broad outlines of the future and it’s likely that the familiar appearance of the Ford F-150 electric pickup is largely responsible for its high ranking. People like what they are used to. The Hummer, the Rivian, and the Tesla are all unconventional in their appearance to one degree or another.
What is important is that a large segment of prospective buyers say they would consider an electric pickup truck, which may be an indicator of how quickly attitudes are changing. 2 years ago, it is unlikely many customers would have said an electric pickup was on their horizon at all.
As to the success of the Tesla Cybertruck, certainly Elon Musk is not shy about saying it is going to change a lot of people’s minds despite its unique and largely polarizing appearance. (CleanTechnica readers especially seem to prefer it.) With so many electric pickups coming to market soon, it is likely the EV revolution is about to take a major step forward. 20% of the American new car market today is pickup trucks. If electrics are popular in that segment, they are likely to gain popularity in other segments as well.
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