Plug-In Pickup Trucks, the next revolution?
If you mention electric vehicles to your friends, chances are the conversation will turn to Tesla at some point. For the large majority of the population, the conversation will quickly turn to one brand; Tesla. Tesla has become synonymous with the idea of a successful, fully self sustaining, electric car company. Many people outside of of car circles will struggle to name other electric cars, Tesla's branding has been that good, especially for a company that spends nothing on advertising.
Tesla started off with the Roadster 1.0 (Sports Car), proceeded to the Model S (Full Size Luxury Sedan), the Model X (Mid Size Luxury Crossover), and the Model 3 (Compact Luxury Sedan). Tesla has recently set its sights on going after the commercial trucking market and are actively developing a Tesla Semi, and are keen to release the Roadster 2.0 soon, which is set to be the fastest accelerating car on the market, and will be a completely clean sheet Tesla design, unlike the Roadster 1.0.
The market they're currently not going after though, is currently the largest in North America; the pickup truck. To put it in perspective, in the US in 2018, there were roughly 17 million new vehicles sold. Of that, the top 3 selling vehicles were the Ford F Series, Dodge Ram, & Chevrolet Silverado, making up roughly 5 million of those sales.
The other interesting part about this, is when you look at what people want and need out of a pickup truck, going electric seems to make even more sense. You need low range torque for towing and hauling, & individual motors in each wheel can take the place of 4x4 systems and differential lockers for inclement weather and off-roading. For years now, the domestics have owned the pickup market, and are constantly vying to steal market share from each other. Because of this, we're subjected to numerous TV, Radio, Magazine, Newspaper, and Internet advertisements, each boasting about how their truck is the "Class Leader". Usually the cited brags are about towing capacity, torque, or depending on fuel prices, gas mileage.
So, when I heard about a company that's claiming they're going to produce a pickup truck that can wade through 90cm of water (as much as a Range Rover), can tow 5000kg (about as much as a top trim F150), oh and did I mention they're targeting a 0-60 time of 3 seconds flat on the top trim? To put that in perspective, not only is that faster than the 707hp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (3.5 sec), the Tesla Model X P100D (3.2 sec), it ties the quoted time for the Ferrari 488GTB supercar! I'd like to remind the class that this is a full size pickup truck that resembles a futuristic brick with headlights, so that's frankly insane.
So, what's the problem then? This sounds like the perfect pickup, right? And that's the problem. Too many times, we've seen vehicles promising so much, and they either end up not delivering to the claims, or they become vaporware and end up not materializing at all. I really hope Rivian manage to actually bring the R1T to market, because even at the quoted MSRP range of $61 500-$100 000 USD, it's not actually the huge price premium we've come to expect from vehicles breaking the mold.
What remains to be seen is how Rivian plans to develop a dealer network, and what that experience will look like. I really hope they're successful, because if they are, the R1T has the potential to change what pickup trucks are in the future.
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