American buyers can’t get enough of the Ford F-Series. The Dearborn, Michigan-based firm sold over a million pickup trucks in 2018, so it’s understandably worried about what will happen to that number if customers one day flock to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. To hedge its bets, Ford announced it will add hybrid and all-electric versions of the F-150 to its lineup. The electric F-150 could arrive as early as 2021, according to a new report.
“We’re going to be electrifying the F-Series — battery electric and hybrid,” Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, revealed during a presentation made on the sidelines of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
Technical details, like much else, remain under wraps for the time being. The project remains at the embryonic stage of development so Ford hasn’t floated horsepower and torque specifications or a range figure. We don’t know where the electric F-150 will be positioned in the lineup, though it’s reasonably safe to assume the truck won’t go electric-only in the near future. The gasoline- and diesel-powered variants will stick around in the foreseeable future.
The company has already started testing preproduction prototypes. It released a video showing one of its early all-electric test mules towing 10 double-decker rail cars carrying 42 new 2019 F-150s, a load that adds up to over 1 million pounds. Don’t expect the production model to arrive with a million-pound towing capacity, but going electric could help Ford win the truck segment’s towing war.
Ford will shift its electrification offensive into high gear in the coming years. The hybrid model will arrive in showrooms as a 2020 model, but Ford hasn’t revealed precisely when it will introduce the first battery-electric F-150. In an interview with Automotive News Canada, Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director of electrification, hinted that the all-electric model could arrive by calendar-year 2021. Cannis didn’t give a specific timeline, but said the F-150 could show up as soon as a year after Ford’s upcoming Mustang-inspired electric SUV, which is expected to launch in late 2020. That timeline means the all-electric model will likely be based on the next-generation F-150.
When it goes on sale, the electric F-150 will face competition from a growing number of rivals. Most are startups looking to capitalize on the increasing popularity of electric cars.
Rivian introduced a truck called the R1T at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show that’s entirely electric, rugged, shockingly fast, and boasts 400 miles of range. It’s due out in late 2020. Ford is investing $500 million in Rivian, and will use the startup’s vehicle architecture for another electric model alongside the F-150. Another, even lesser-known company named Atlis emerged from stealth mode in early 2019, and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk previously said he’s dying to build a pickup truck. Workhorse is developing a plug-in hybrid truck, but it’s primarily aimed at commercial fleets.
What about Ford’s traditional rivals? General Motors CEO Mary Barra has said “full-size pickup trucks” are part of the company’s “all-electric future,” so it’s possible an electric Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra could challenge the F-150. Ram hasn’t made any announcements about an electric truck, however.
Updated on September 11, 2019: Added new details on the electric F-150’s launch timeline.