Lined up and rolling, Ford's F150 EV Proto Pulls Its Weight
Marc Stern's picture

Ford F150 EV Proto Is Here Even As Elon Promises Competition From Tesla

Maybe it is marketing or maybe it is wishful thinking, but Elon Musk of Tesla has promised to challenge Ford in on of its strongest markets, the F150 pickup arena. He has made somewhat of a challenge that Ford may have already won.
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What on earth is Elon Musk smoking? For a long, while now, he’s been promising a new electric pickup to challenge or take the crown from the pickup king, Ford and, by extension, when it is available, the F150 EV, the electric version of the popular Ford pickup. Maybe he is just into bragging, or perhaps it’s something else. We don’t know. We still wonder what’s going on under the Elon’s hairline.

Tesla Has A Successful Car Company

He indeed has a successful electric car company, and he is indeed, right now, a leader in the electric market – aside from Toyota and its Prius line. But, why is he promising to come to market with an electric pickup, telling the world he will beat Ford when Ford is already there?

Now, we have seen evidence of the Ford F150 EV. Last week, it was all over the evening news as the electric pickup hauled 10 railcars 1,000 feet. Then, the Ford F150 EV Proto repeated the feat, with a big difference. Instead of pulling the same empty car carriers, the team loaded 42 new F150 pickups so that the Ford EV hauled more than 1.25 million pounds. And, though Musk said that if the Ford EV can tow his Tesla pickup will do the same. But, no one has seen hide nor hair of the Tesla EV.

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At a press opportunity during the week, someone asked Musk about his truck, which could be a significant competitor of the Ford F150 EV which may be here as soon as 2020 to 2023 timeframe, though no one knows for sure. And his somewhat vague answer could have been interpreted two ways: yes, the pickup’s here and ready to go, or yes it’s here, but it’s only a prototype. His answer about when and if the Tesla pickup would appear, as reported by The Ford Authority, was the “magic is in the final details.”

Still No Trace Of Tesla Pickup EV Proto

The issue with Musk’s statement is that there has been no trace of the pickup in the wild. Even seasoned car hunters, motor spies, and the like have yet to turn the Tesla pickup. So, despite his claims, no one has seen it yet; or as the website (Ford Authority) says “there’s nothing apparent to balance his claim.” calling his remarks vague, “as we don’t know if it means the truck is a few months from a prototype being shown or a production version. We assume he means a prototype unveil.”

That doesn’t stop him from making his claims and then doubling down by hinting that the Tesla EV will be here before the Ford EV. The second statement discounts a fact that is glaringly obvious that a pickup labeled Ford F150 All-Electric Protoype has already made its hauling appearance in the last couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, some skeptics doubt that Tesla will be able to deliver on his promises. They point to the fact that Tesla Motors has had a history of promising things that are either not provided or if they are, they are late. Ford, on the other hand, has a rather large sales and marketing organization to push its electric vehicle wares, even if truck buyers aren’t flocking to the EV banner.

Ford F150 EV Buyer Is Traditional

One thing that may turn off buyers from Tesla’s offering is its design. Musk has promised EV styling that takes a page out of Blade Runner. That type of plan is at odds with the traditional pickup buyer who tends to prefer classic styling, so who knows what the future holds for them. At the same time, though, Musk has backpedaled and has said the styling would be much more traditional.

Follow Marc Stern, the Ford F150 Reporter for Torque News with news and tips about Ford trucks at @iraradioguy or on Facebook at mstern001.

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Comments

According to a Ford product mgr back in May (Lee Newcombe) at a Fleet conf, Ford doesn't have an electric truck on its product roadmap...next 4 or 5 yrs. Things may have changed.... but
Given the rapidly changing state of the electric market, it may now make sense to Ford to move its electric truck offering up by a few years. Let's face it, the electric market is changing rapidly with some automakers, like VW and others, promising to be all electric by 2025. In a sense, things are topsy-turvy as the electric market and demand for EVs is changing almost every day, it seems. Though Ford did have an EV in its lineup in 5 years or so, the market is causing managers to rethink those plans and that's why things have moved.
It is an interesting take on Elon Musk's comments. From my view, Elon's promise of a Tesla pickup carries more weight than Ford's promo commercial. Sure there have been no Tesla pickup mules sighted, but the same could be said of the Tesla Roadster 2 and Semi before their unveiling. I do applaud Ford for building a F150 pickup and doing a showy commercial. Along with their sizable investment in Rivian. These are all bold moves compared to the relative silence regarding pickup EVs from GM and Dodge. Frankly I believe that Tesla has been concentrating their resources in producing the successful Model 3, and gearing up for the production of the Model Y, which should give them another financial boost to move forward with all of their other upcoming vehicles. Ford (like GM and Chrysler) is dropping the production of their economy cars, which included the compliance-Focus EV, C-Max and other otherwise competitive plug-in EVs. There is the promise of the Mach-E BEV and PHEV Escape next year, but no real announcement regarding the timeline for production for an actual EV F150. They COULD have EV F150s in showrooms by 2020, but it is more likely that the EV F150 could be able to buy in 2-3 years from now. I am hoping for EV F150 production in late 2020, but the big automakers are notorious for dragging their feet. Ford (or Chevy) could have easily "won" the race to have the first production EV pickup years ago. They should BOTH have released PHEV pickups in 2013 along with the Chevy Volt and Fusion Energi PHEVs, and they also had the technology and resources to build a BEV pickup at any time since then but chose not to, hoping instead that the current administration would repeal the EPA gas mileage requirements instead. I am certain that if Tesla and Rivian had not announced and showed (Rivian) that there was a real EV pickup coming out that Ford and GM would have delayed building their EV pickups for years. I think that Tesla will show their working, ready for production pickup in 2-3 months and begin to take orders then, which will put them ahead of Ford, and well ahead of Chevy and Dodge.
Musk is a snake oil salesman you can never believe a word he says. Honestly, I don't think their is yet a huge market for EV vehicles and especially pick ups. Range is barely acceptable on small vehicles let alone a big heavy pick up that may tow even more weight. Now maybe a urban explorer might find a EV pick up attractive, but exactly how much market that is will depend on costs and range. Musk pick up conception design is way too forward thinking to attract the average pick up guy. One that actually uses his truck for work and pleasure.
And yet most all of the products and promises that he made did come to pass, as opposed to many automakers who show prototypes and concept cars that are never built. I do think that Ford (and GM eventually) are coming out with EV pickups, but they have many advisors who share your opinions as to there being no great need for EV pickups today. I see tons of pickups and SUVs in my daily commute, slogging along at slow speeds with the rest of us. Not towing trailers, not driving for hundreds of miles every day. In the U.S. pickup sales are HUGE, and Tesla doesn't need to be a perfect fit for all pickup buyer's needs. Once you own and regularly drive an electric car (especially commuting) it spoils you over gas vehicles. And Tesla only needs to appeal to 1-5% of truck buyers to be very successful.