It’s no secret that the pickup truck segment is highly competitive and highly profitable for auto manufacturers. So it makes sense that electrification is beginning to make its way into that segment. Although, with some of the consumer mindset in this segment being wholly opposed to the mere idea of an EV pickup truck, let alone an electric F-150, auto makers may have their work cut out for them.
V8s and diesels rule in some circles and EVs are the devil if you listen to some diehard truck enthusiasts.
However, a new survey conducted by Cox Automotive reveals that almost 20 percent of future pickup truck buyers would consider an electrified pickup truck.
“Our research shows new EV pickup trucks are leading more consumers to consider an EV product,” said Vanessa Ton, senior manager, Cox Automotive.
Further, the survey from Cox reveals that nearly 2 in 5 consumers who are in the market for a pickup in the next several years would consider an electric pickup truck. Additionally, Cox’s survey revealed: “younger consumers are more likely to consider an electric pickup truck with 44% of 18-34-year-olds indicating that they are interested in both internal combustion engine (ICE) and EV options.”
This is not surprising to me, nor should it be surprising to major automotive manufacturers like Ford.
What Priorities Matter to An EV Truck Purchaser?
More interesting information was revealed from Cox within this survey. Often it’s hard to glean what matters most to truck buyers and it’s even more difficult to determine what might matter to someone who would buy an electrified pickup.
In the survey results from Cox, EV shoppers want much of the same thing as standard ICE pickup shoppers. Things like price, performance, design and size all matter. Surprisingly, brand name and work use are less important, according to Cox.
“Where our consideration groups diverge is how they view horsepower and technology. ICE buyers prioritize horsepower; shoppers interested in EVs care more about technology,” Ton said.
The survey result went on to reveal: “Research shows that 77% of ICE shoppers view horsepower as important versus only 58% of electric pickup truck shoppers. Regarding technology, 77% of shoppers interested in electric pickup trucks indicated that the vehicle being technologically advanced was important to them as opposed to only 56% of ICE shoppers.”
See the full chart from Cox’s survey in the chart below.
Where does brand recognition come into play?
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America for many years and the F-150 is the best-selling truck for 44 years now. You’ve heard that stat thrown around proudly by Ford.
But you can’t dismiss the importance of the F-150 as a juggernaut in the truck segment and the Built Ford Tough moniker giving some credibility to the EV pickup truck segment.
And Cox’s survey verifies this. The survey revealed: “When shown images of each vehicle, without brand and model indicators, and without product details, 3-in-5 consumers find the Ford F-150 Electric pickup truck appealing, perhaps indicating familiarity is attractive.”
Ton said, “Tesla and Rivian R1T scored well with younger buyers, and Rivian performed well among female buyers as well.”
Where Ford pulled away and has the edge over even the Tesla Cybertruck was in branding and product recognition. Being such a known and tried and true entity gave Ford, and the EV F-150 a distinct advantage.
To see the entire breakdown, among demographics, check out the chart below.
Cox’s survey further revealed an even more impressive lead for Ford and the F-150: “Ford’s historic strength in pickup trucks likely drives higher scores in EV pickup consideration. Ford leads in every attribute except tech advanced, where Hummer and Rivian are nearly tied for the lead.”
What this survey boils down to is traditional versus non-traditional. Ford and the F-150 are about as traditional as you come. Tesla’s Cybertruck is an oddball that is both beloved for its unique, rebellious styling and also despised for the same qualities. Some will be drawn to the Cybertruck for this spirit, while more traditional people will be more willing to consider the established F-150, even as an all-electric pickup.
Ford versus Tesla
The survey information was eye-opening. While Tesla is the chic, hip “leader in the clubhouse” when it comes to EVs, major manufacturers like Ford and General Motors are not going to back down from Tesla either.
And the looming competition will be good for the consumer. I wrote a while ago that the Cybertruck was no threat to the F-150, and I stand by that. When you sell more than 800,000 trucks every year, those consumers aren’t going away, nor will Tesla lure that many away.
So when we have a true EV future, Ford will still be out there with the F-150.
Ford is going full-steam ahead with production and development of an EV F-150. It’s on pace to come out sometime in 2023.
Ford has invested billions in electrification including developing a manufacturing facility devoted to EVs. Ford has broken ground on the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center which is next door to the Ford Rouge Center which is where the 2021 F-150 will be manufactured. Ford says the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center will run on renewable energy.
When asked about whether the EV F-150 would just be niche vehicle that wouldn’t be taken seriously, new Ford CEO Jim Farley said, “While other all electric pickup trucks are competing for lifestyle customers, the all-electric F-150 is designed and engineered for hard-working customers that need a truck to do a job.” Farley said. “This isn’t a truck for never nevers, who never tow, never haul and never go off road. This truck has been tested and tortured to be built Ford tough like you wouldn’t believe.”
To me, this is Ford’s advantage over Tesla and Rivian to a lesser extent. Cox’s survey backs me up too as F-150 is the established pickup brand, even in EV form.
You can see the entire survey from Cox Automotive and draw your own conclusions here. Please leave me your thoughts on the looming electrified pickup truck war that’s coming.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.