The transition to electric vehicles will enter a new phase this spring with the debut of the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck, the first all-electric edition of the country’s top-selling vehicle.
Bob Tomes, owner Bob Tomes Ford, stated that enthusiasm is high in McKinney Texas, a far-flung suburb near Dallas. His customers have already made deposits on almost 500 EVs, which is quite a number.
“People are extremely, extremely excited about it,” Tomes said.
However, he is also disappointed that Ford is unable build trucks fast enough to meet customer demand. This means that only a small number of customers will receive one truck right away.
I reached out to Tomes and other Texas Ford dealers this week to try to answer one of the biggest questions facing the F-150 Lightning: Will a significant share of existing truck buyers want to move away from the internal combustion engines they’re accustomed to and buy this electric pickup?
Texas, epicenter of the nation’s oil and gas industry and its top oil and gas producer, is a good place to ask because the state also leads the country in sales of Ford’s F-Series pickups. According to IHS Markit, Texans registered 85.654 new FSeries pickups between January and October 2013. This was more than twice the number of pickups in California, which had 35.555.
The F-Series pickups are the best-selling in the country, and the F-150 is still the most popular model. It outsells all other cars and trucks.
Dealers told me the F-150 Lightning will be a big hit in suburban and urban Texas, but rural Texas will take a while to embrace an all-electric truck.
McKinney is an ideal place for the truck to be used. Customers can commute 50-60 miles roundtrip to McKinney and charge almost all their batteries at home. The model has a range that is about 230 miles so drivers no longer have to buy gasoline.
But it’s a different story in Winnsboro in northeastern Texas, a city with about 3,500 residents.
“There aren’t a bunch of people standing in line for an electric vehicle with a range of 230 miles,” said Larry Brown, general manager of Texas Country Ford in Winnsboro.
A common drive, such a roundtrip from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, will drain all of the battery power.
He said that if his customers buy an electric car, it will likely be a hybrid gas-electric. His personal vehicle, a hybrid F-150 is his favorite and he loves its power and range.
I specified “local” customers because the all-electric vehicles that Brown sells are usually to customers who are driving long distances from urban areas because their local dealerships have sold out. The Mustang Mach-E, an electric vehicle that was introduced in 2020, saw 27,140 sales in 2021. This was approximately half the number of gasoline-powered Mustangs.
Ford has been creating hype for the F-150 Lightning by spending money on the most expensive advertising, such as on NFL games, in order to show that the new vehicle may have features that make it better than a gasoline-powered model. One ad shows a family using their Lightning as backup power for their home.
Ford announced this week that it was almost doubling the production of the Lightning. This would mean Ford will produce 150,000 Lightnings per year by 2023 at the River Rouge facility in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford explained that this is part of a plan for increasing electric vehicle manufacturing capacity over two years in order to reach a global target 600,000.
To give you an idea of how the F-Series was sold in the United States, 726,004 were sold in 2021.
The company also stated that it has almost 200,000 Lightning reservations. This is a significant number. A $100 refundable deposit is required to reserve the Lightning. This puts customers in line to purchase the model when it becomes available. I want to use caution when talking about reservation numbers, though, since it’s not much of a commitment to put down a refundable deposit.
That said, Ford’s announcement that it’s increasing production of the Lightning is a sign that the company expects this to be a huge seller. Ford’s Mach-E success gives Ford some credibility in predicting that big talk on electric vehicles will be followed up with big results.
Ford is attempting a push in the EV market dominated Tesla. Meanwhile, Tesla has been working to introduce the Cybertruck, the brand’s first pickup. Tesla had initially said Cybertruck would go on sale in 2021, but CEO Elon Musk said in October that the model’s debut was being pushed back to late 2022 because of shortages of some parts.
The Cybertruck has a polarizing design that doesn’t seem to be aiming for typical pickup truck buyers. Tesla claimed that the model had received more than 500,000 preorders in 2020. That’s a lot, but we’ll see how many of those translate into sales.
Rivian, a California-based firm that wants to be for electric vehicles what Tesla was for electric cars, has another truck, the R1T. The R1T, which was produced in very limited quantities last year, received rave reviews from automotive journalists. Customers who ordered the truck should begin receiving them in March.
The F-150 Lightning, Cybertruck, and several other electric trucks will bring more EVs to the market. This is a continuation of a shift that occurred in the past when most EVs were small or subcompact.
Chevrolet is also on the scene, and plans to release an electric version of its Silverado pickup in spring 2023. On Wednesday, the company presented a first look at its model at the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas. They also revealed new details such as a 400-mile battery range and a starting price of $39,900.
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It may take some time before all-electric cars are popular in rural areas. Brown from Texas Country Ford asked me what range of batteries he thought his customers would need before they feel comfortable with an electric vehicle.
“It would need 400 to 500 miles,” he said. “I’m in Texas and that’s a whole other kind of world. You leave town and it’s a while. You’ve got a long way to drive.”
Automakers continue to improve their battery ranges thanks to improvements made in design and materials. It is likely that soon, an affordable vehicle will have a long-haul range.
One of the larger points from talking with dealers is that customers are basing their decisions on a vehicle’s price and whether it can meet their needs, not on considerations about the environment or wanting to support oil industry jobs.
“I think our society is doing a great job with the electric vehicles, but we’ve got a little work to do to make them highly popular out in the country,” Brown said. “In the city, those people are loving it. You can drive 10 miles in your car to work without having to buy gas. It’s a great thing.”
He is touching on one of the unifying features of American drivers: Nobody, at least nobody I’ve ever met, gets pleasure from buying gasoline.
This week, there are other stories about energy transitions you should be aware of:
Georgia Solar Factory Shows the Promise (and Dangers) of Biden’s Industrial Policy:In response to Trump Administration tariffs on panels made in China, Hanwha Q Cells of South Korea built a massive solar panel plant at Georgia in 2019. The Biden Administration now wants to use government incentives and similar policies to increase panel manufacturing in America. This will encourage other plants like the one in Georgia. Biden’s approach is a government intervention in the market that has political and economic risks, including the risks of rising consumer prices, as Gavin Bade reports for Politico.
A closer look at the Large Roofing Company That Sells Solar Shingles.GAF, the largest American roofing company, has begun selling solar-shingles. GAF Energy is a subsidiary of the company that sells the product. It’s shingles that can be used as solar panels. GAF has a national reach and can challenge Tesla, which has been slowly developing a solar shingle company. Tik Root reports. The Washington Post.
This 1970s Farmers’ Uprising Has Lessons for the Energy Transition:The country must build more interstate power lines to make the transition to renewable energy. But proposals to build the lines often get bogged down in objections from people who don’t want to look at them. This week, I wrote about the 1970s Minnesota uprising against a proposed powerline. It shows some of the motivations for opponents. The lessons learned by power companies and state officials in the Minnesota case allowed them to propose projects without facing such fierce opposition. Advocates for clean energy say the United States can learn from Minnesota’s mistakes and make improvements.
Tesla reacted better to parts shortages than others. Here’s How:In 2021, the global shortage of computer chips and other components caused delays and reduced sales in the auto industry. Tesla was able manage the shortages better that its peers. The company was able make parts in-house. They also sold vehicles while disclosing that certain parts like Bluetooth chips or USB ports were missing.
Inside Clean Energy is ICN’s weekly bulletin of news and analysis about the energy transition. Send news tips and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Inside Climate News