The cost and charging infrastructure are just two hurdles.
Those hoping for an electrified revolution with pickup trucks best be the patient type. General Motors President Mark Reuss, in an interview with Bloomberg TV (at the 3:45 mark) about the company's $150-million investment into its Flint truck plant, said an electric pickup truck would take some time to come to fruition. He added there are several hurdles in place that an electric pickup has to overcome before supplanting internal-combustion-engine trucks.
First, according to Reuss, automakers have to reduce charging times. Inundating an EV battery with power can cause lithium-ion plating – deposition – that forms around the anode of lithium-ion batteries, which can cause battery malfunctions. Next, the U.S. needs a robust EV charging infrastructure similar to our gasoline and diesel infrastructure currently spread out across the country.
Then there’s cost, or cost parity, something Reuss discussed earlier this month. Electric pickup trucks will have to reach cost parity with gasoline-powered trucks or be cheaper. He said during the interview that many people buy trucks to earn a living and no one will pay more for a work truck. Then there’s the issue of having an electric pickup perform as reliably as a gas-powered truck. Customers will expect it to haul, tow, and travel great distances reliably without worrying about recharging or other malfunctions.
While Reuss gave little info regarding GM’s electric pickup efforts, he may have provided an inadvertent hint. Near the end of the segment discussing electric trucks, Reuss says they could find success at the high-end level – fast, capable, and luxurious – but they wouldn’t be up to the grueling expectations of today’s pickups. That makes us think GM’s EV pickup won’t be a high-priced luxury model, but instead, be designed to function at every price point.
GM has a plan to launch 20 new electric vehicles by 2023. Reuss believes cost parity will happen sooner rather than later. An electric pickup truck has to go far beyond meeting customers expectations. Truck buyers are fiercely loyal; however, if the late few years of trucks are any indicator, they’re open to new powertrains, technologies, and other features.