If inefficiency were a virtue, President Biden is its champion.
Yesterday, President Biden test drove the new electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck which Ford will formally unveil at midnight tonight.
The F-150 is the best selling vehicle in America, but is the American Everyman prepared to shell out $70,000 for an electric base model and over six figures at the top of the line? Those are the prices Car and Driver predicts.
Today’s pickup trucks are affordable. “The F-150 carries a base price of $28,940, which is one of the lower starting prices in the class. SuperCab models start at $33,025, and SuperCrew models start at $36,650.
Pickup trucks combine power with rugged hauling capacity that appeal to sports and tradesmen. A pickup truck enables individuals to start a business with minimal capital. Buy a pickup, maybe add a trailer, and you’ve acquired much of the gear you need to start a business as a landscaper, handyman, repairman, mechanic, or carpenter. Add some skills and a lucrative career as a plumber, electrician or tech specialist beckons.
Pickup trucks and vans are essential elements for many workers’ American dream.
Electric vehicles’ short ranges and long charging times are significant impediments to that dream.
The already announced Ford E-Transit van “delivers an estimated driving range of 126 miles in the low-roof cargo van variant.” That’s assuming warm weather and driving maximized to fit the EV power curve.
We’ll learn tonight whether some models of the F-150 lightning might make 300 miles, but if they do, we know that will mean a substantial increase in cost and particularly weight.
Motor Trend wrote, “expect the electric F-150 to therefore fall on the heavy end of Ford’s light-duty pickup lineup when all is said and done.”
Ford told President Biden that the F-150 Lightning’s batteries will weigh over 1,800 pounds. That’s a lot of lithium.
Biden raved over one of the best features of electric vehicles: their quick acceleration.
“This sucker’s quick.” Biden remarked behind the wheel, “I think it’s going from zero to sixty in about 4.3… 4.4.” The Ford spokesman confirmed, saying, “right.”
EVs boast near instant torque. However, that’s been true since the birth of the automobile at the end of the nineteenth century. Instant torque may be a cool feature for drag racing, but hauling capacity and range are what Americans demand in a pickup.
Ford partnered with Thomas Edison to develop an electric vehicle in 1914, but shelved the project due to limitations which though improved, persist today.
Lithium-ion batteries may be more efficient than the lead-acid batteries Henry Ford and Thomas Edison used, and technologies such as recombinant braking offer efficiency boosts with a cost in mechanical complexity, but the essential reasons electric vehicles never caught on remain.
Electric vehicles are costly to make, require massive batteries that don’t last, and are limited by short ranges and long charging times. They require exotic materials, sourced overseas, often mined under appalling conditions.
It remains to be seen whether pickup truck entrepreneurs will overcome sticker shock and range anxiety and embrace electric vehicles.
Will they adopt electric pickup trucks voluntarily, or only through government coercion?
EDITORS NOTE: This CFACT column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.