Ford COO Jim Farley said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk On The Street show this week that the company’s first electric pickup truck and its first electric cargo van will be on sale by “mid-2022.” That’s about 24 months from now. Many thought the electric pickup would arrive sooner than that after the company posted a video of an electric F-150 pulling a one million pound freight train last year. “We are No. 1 in the pickup and the van market in Western Europe and the U.S. and this is our chance,” Farley said. “We are electrifying and we’re a brand people trust.”
The delay says a lot about how hard it is to transition from making vehicles with infernal combustion engines to making electric vehicles. We watched Tesla go through “production hell” with its Model 3 and now other companies are running head-on into the same brick wall. It’s not a pretty sight to see.
Trucks are the heart and soul of the American auto industry. Despite the factory closures due to the pandemic, manufacturers are desperate to start making pickup trucks again, but they are quite simply the most profitable vehicles ever in the history of automobiles. People who would haggle for hours over the price of a Honda Civic don’t bat an eyelash when it comes to forking over 50 grand or more for a full equipped pickup truck. They just gotta have it and so they are willing to pay whatever it costs to get it.
The field is about to get crowded. Tesla and General Motors say they will have electric pickup trucks on sale by the end of 2021. Ford, Nikola, and Rivian say 2022 is their release date. Somewhere in the mix is Lordstown Motors.
But what is more important to the world at large is the arrival of electric cargo vans, those four-wheeled workhorses that deliver our packages, serve as mobile offices for tradespeople, and form the basis for a host of passenger haulers at airports, convention centers, and the like. All of them use either diesel engines or big, old fashioned gasoline engines that pump out clouds of exhaust emissions in their wake. The sooner they get replaced with zero emissions vehicles, the sooner we can all breathe easier.
It would be nice if they went on sale sooner, but we should celebrate the fact that they are about to go on sale at all. It’s about time and the environment can’t wait.