More than a dozen automakers are introducing electrified pickup trucks – full EVs or hybrids – over the next couple of years. One of those is Ford, which will be celebrating the delivery of the electric F-150 Lightning to its first customers on Tuesday, April 26.
With so many electrified pickup trucks hitting the market, the question is who will buy them. Will it be traditional pickup truck owners, or will electrification open a new segment of truck buyers?
The latter seems most likely based on new research from Cox Automotive and orders Ford has received for the Lightning, most of which are from consumers who have not owned a Ford, much less a Ford truck.
“Younger consumers – under age 35 – and current owners of SUVs and sedans are the most likely candidates to buy an electrified pickup truck,” said Vanessa Ton, senior manager of Cox Automotive’s Research and Market Intelligence team, in a news release.
“The prospective buyers are mostly higher-income, tech-savvy males who are considering an electrified truck because of high gas prices or environmental reasons,” she added. “They normally wouldn’t consider a truck except for the fact that electrified ones are becoming available, and they are considering an electrified vehicle because it is offered in truck form.”
Cox Automotive’s research shows half of consumers in the market for a pickup truck in the next two years said they were considering both gas or electrified powertrains or electrified only. The other half would consider only gas-powered trucks.
Shoppers over 35 are more likely to consider only traditional internal combustion engines for their pickup trucks than those under 35 by a wide margin. Of truck shoppers 35 or older, 53% said they would consider gas-powered only, whereas 36% of shoppers under 35 said they would consider gas only.
Three in four shoppers considering an electrified truck said the main reason they were considering an electrified vehicle at all is that it comes in a truck.
In recent months, rising gas prices have intensified interest in electric vehicles and specifically in electrified pickup trucks. Nearly 60% of those surveyed said rising gas prices drove their decision to consider an electrified vehicle. Since gas prices began rising in January, Cox Automotive websites Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader have seen a more than 60% increase in shopping for all EVs and around a 20% rise in hybrid shopping.
The upcoming Kelley Blue Book Brand Watc, a consumer perception and shopping consideration study, for the first quarter shows one in four shoppers are considering an electrified vehicle. Ford has the only two electrified trucks on the Top 10 most-shopped electrified list. The Ford Maverick that comes standard with a hybrid powertrain was the second most-shopped electrified vehicle in the first quarter. The just launching F-150 Lightning ranked No. 7. Having electrified models in a line-up lifts any brand’s overall shopping consideration, according to the Kelley Blue Book studies.
Expectations High for Electrified Trucks
Consumers considering buying an electrified truck expect it to do everything today’s gas-powered pickup trucks do and then some.
Range, vehicle size, price and driving performance are the most important factors to shoppers considering an electrified pickup truck. They said they expect it to perform the same or better than gas-powered trucks in terms of ride quality and handling. They expect the same or more torque and horsepower but more technology, most of which is not available on gas-powered trucks.
Bidirectional charging ranked highest among electrified truck intenders, with 64% saying they wanted it. The technology can power appliances, tools, and TVs and serve as a generator for a house or even charge another EV.
A “frunk,” or front truck, was favored by 52% of electrified truck intenders surveyed. The absence of a traditional engine provides more room for storage in front and back compared with gas-powered pickups.
About a third said they wanted the “crab walk” feature offered on the GMC Hummer EV. Crab-walking is a further advancement in four-wheel steering, which is becoming more widely available in large, high-end vehicles and helps make them more maneuverable in all situations. Specifically, the GMC CrabWalk mode uses the Hummer EV’s 4-Wheel Steer to drive diagonally at low speeds and is primarily used for extreme off-road driving.