DETROIT (AP) — When a futuristic-looking electric Ram pickup goes on sale next year, it’s unlikely to be the first in line.
By then, at least seven EV competitors are slated to be on sale, all vying for a share of the huge full-size truck market that now includes the three best-selling gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles in the United States.
Four models – Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Rivian’s R1T, Lordstown Motors’ Endurance and the GMC Hummer EV Pickup – are already on the road. And this year or next year, three others – Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV and Tesla̵[ads1]7;s Cybertruck – will be launched.
Still, executives at Ram, Stellantis’ brand of trucks and utility vehicles, say they don’t mind following rather than leading the competition.
“It’s actually a benefit for us,” Mike Koval Jr., CEO of the Ram brand, said in an interview. “Because we have full knowledge of what the other guys have announced.”
On Thursday afternoon, company executives unveiled a concept version of the battery-powered Ram 1500 Revolution truck at the CES gadget fair in Las Vegas. The production car probably won’t be as cranky as the one shown on stage, which looks like a cross between Tesla’s angular Cybertruck and a regular gas pickup. But the Ram EV, Koval said, will outperform the competition in the areas that customers value most: payload, towing, range and technology.
GM has announced that the Silverado EV will be able to drive over 400 miles on a single charge. (Competitors have ranges of between 230 and 400 miles, depending on battery size.) Koval insists that the production Ram “will push past anything that our competitors have announced.”
By next year, he noted, more charging stations and other infrastructure will be in place, making the electric car market more attractive.
Jessica Caldwell, managing director of insights for Edmunds.com, said Ram is not late to the market because the electric trucks on sale now cannot fully satisfy the continued growth in consumer demand.
GM says more than 170,000 people have put down $100 refundable deposits on the Sierra. Last year, Ford sold over 15,000 Lightning cars, even though the vehicles weren’t available until May. The company ended reservations after receiving $100 deposits from nearly 200,000 potential buyers.
Last year, Americans bought more than 2.1 million full-size pickup trucks, most of which still run on gasoline. Large pickup trucks accounted for more than 15% of all new car sales in the United States, a large and lucrative market. Sales of electric cars are growing rapidly: Last year, 807,000 of them were sold in the US – up 65% from 2021.
The prices of the EV trucks, which are relatively expensive, need to move closer to the prices of gasoline versions to draw buyers away, said Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Cox Automotive.
Ford’s electric pickup truck was originally supposed to have a version starting around $40,000. But the starting price now is just under $56,000, driven up by demand and price increases in raw materials. That’s far more than the base gas-powered F-150 that starts just under $34,000.
“The problem with pricing,” Krebs said, “is that the cost of building electric cars is going up. The prices of lithium and other (battery) minerals are high.”
Automakers say prices should drop as companies spread costs across more vehicles and as breakthroughs in battery chemistry reduce the amount or even eliminate minerals now needed to store energy.
Koval says he’s well aware that the electric Ramen will have to appeal to customers who want work versions of base models, as well as those who want more expensive luxury and technology — even with “insane” raw material costs.
“We’re going to try to have something for everyone,” he said, “but with an eye on the critical price point.”
The truck will also offer 350-kilowatt fast charging that can add up to 100 miles of range in about 10 minutes, a large interior accessible through “saloon-style” doors with a multi-configuration interior.
Getting people to give up their gas-powered trucks may take some time, Krebs acknowledges. In the Midwest and Texas, where most pickup trucks are sold, there aren’t many charging stations for electric vehicles that allow for longer trips.
Electric trucks may also appeal to companies that buy fleets of work trucks and want to receive tax credits and avoid paying for gas.
Caldwell believes the market for electric pickups will include buyers who use them for work and those who would otherwise purchase an electric SUV for personal use.
Electric trucks, she said, “kind of give people who were maybe on the fence about (an electric vehicle) more reason to buy.”