DETROIT (AP) — When the futuristic-looking electric Ram pickup truck goes on sale next year, it won’t be first in line.
By then, at least seven EV contenders are slated for sale, all vying for a share of the huge full-size truck market, which now includes the best-selling gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S.
Four models — Ford’s F-150 Lightning, Rivian’s R1T, Lordstown Motors’ Endurance and GMC Hummer EV Pickup — are already on the road. This year or next, three others — the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV and Tesla’s Cybertruck — are slated for release.
Executives at Ram, Stellandis’ truck and commercial vehicle brand, say they are less concerned about trailing than leading their competitors.
“It’s really an advantage for us,” Ram Brand CEO Mike Cowell Jr. said in an interview. “Because we have full knowledge of what the other guys announced.”
On Thursday afternoon, company executives unveiled a concept version of the Ram 1500 Revolution battery-powered truck at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas. Appearing to be the halfway point between Tesla’s angular Cybertruck and a regular gas pickup, the production truck is unlikely to be as rugged as the one shown on stage. But the Ram EV, Koval says, outperforms competitors in areas that customers value most: payload, towing, range and technology.
GM has announced that the Silverado EV can travel 400 miles (640 kilometers) on a single charge. (Its competitors have ranges of 230 to 400 miles, depending on battery size.) Cowell asserts that the Ram product will “surpass everything our competitors have announced.”
By next year, he noted, more charging stations and other infrastructure will be in place, making the market for EVs more attractive.
Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com’s managing director of insights, says the Ram won’t be too late for the market because electric trucks currently on sale can’t fully meet sustained growth in consumer demand.
GM says more than 170,000 people have put down a $100 refundable deposit on the Sierra. Last year, Ford sold 15,000 Lightning trucks, even though the vehicles weren’t available until May. The company closed reservations after receiving $100 deposits from nearly 200,000 potential buyers.
Last year, Americans bought more than 2.1 million full-size pickups, most of which still run on gasoline. Large pickups account for more than 15% of all US new vehicle sales, a large and lucrative market. Electric vehicle sales are growing rapidly: Last year, 807,000 were sold in the U.S. — a 65% increase from 2021.
Prices for EV trucks, which are relatively expensive, will need to move closer to gasoline versions to draw buyers, said Michael Krebs, managing analyst at Cox Automotive.
Ford’s electric pickup initially had a version starting around $40,000. But now the starting price is less than $56,000, driven by the demand and cost of raw materials. That’s a lot more than the base gasoline-powered F-150, which starts under $34,000.
Krebs said, “The problem with pricing is the rising costs of building EVs. The cost of lithium and other (battery) minerals is high.”
Automakers say prices should drop as companies spread costs across more vehicles, and advances in battery chemistry reduce the size or eliminate the minerals needed to store energy.
Even with the “crazy” costs of raw materials, Cowell says he’s well aware that the electric Ram should appeal to customers who want base-model work versions and more expensive luxury and technology.
“We’re going to try to have something for everybody, but with that important price point in mind,” he said.
The truck offers fast 350 kW charging that can add up to 100 miles of range in about 10 minutes, a large interior accessed via “saloon style” doors with a multi-structure interior.
It may take some time for people to abandon gas-powered trucks, Krebs admits. In the Midwestern states and Texas, where most pickups are sold, there aren’t many EV charging stations that make long trips possible.
Electric trucks may also appeal to companies that buy work trucks and want to get tax breaks and avoid paying for gasoline.
Caldwell thinks the market for electric pickups includes buyers who use them for work and those who buy electric SUVs for personal use.
Electric trucks, he said, “maybe give people who were on the fence about (an EV) an extra reason to buy.”