Electric Pickup Truck News You May Have Missed: GM, Ford Announce Plans; Tesla Design Speculation

Rivian R1T Electric Pickup Truck

Cars.com photo by Mark Williams

By Nick Kurczewski

The past few weeks have seen major announcements from key players in the electric pickup truck world, specifically Ford and GM. First, the Blue Oval-brand announced it would invest $500 million dollars in Rivian, an upstart electric truck company based in Michigan. The two firms will share technology, though each will remain committed to developing their own unique lineup of electric-powered trucks and SUVs.

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Over at GM, CEO Mary Barra said the American automotive giant has plans to build its own range of electrified trucks, including full-size models. Details remain sparse, however, and the timing of an electric Chevrolet or GMC truck — and any potential partnership to fast-track the project — remains open to speculation.

Last but certainly not least, Tesla has remained relatively quiet on the truck front as the company continues to focus on increasing production of its sedans and crossovers. That doesn't mean the web doesn't have ideas about what a Tesla-badged truck should look like in the years ahead. The result straddles the line between pickup truck and an electric-powered sports car.

Ford-Rivian Partnership

Don't call this an electric vehicle marriage because, according to the press release regarding Ford's $500 million investment in Rivian, the two companies have agreed to an open-ended working relationship. For its money, Ford gets access to Rivian's electric "skateboard" technology, the underlying structure that serves as the frame of its R1S and R1T SUV and pickup truck, respectively. This chassis also houses the battery pack (which varies in size depending on the range required and the model chosen) and supports the suspension and body. In return, Rivian is granted access to Ford's engineering and manufacturing know-how. That's a big win for Rivian, which is committed to bringing vehicles to market next year and has a plant in Normal, Ill., slated to build the R1S and R1T. During the recent 2019 New York International Auto Show, company officials told Cars.com that more vehicles are also in development. This Ford partnership allows Rivian access to more resources, and even potential production sites, as it ramps up sales and introduces models in the years ahead.

This could also help Rivian to lower the prices for future models. Right now, the R1S and R1T are expected to have a starting price of about $70,000 and a range of approximately 200 miles per charge. When fitted with the largest available battery pack capable of 400-plus miles of range, the price for a Rivian could get uncomfortably close to six-figure territory.

Having a partnership that allows it to remain independent helps Rivian minimize engineering costs, which in turn could lead to less expensive truck offerings. Apparently, Ford's own Mustang-inspired electric crossover — which has been hinted at in teaser images — and upcoming full-size electric truck, based on the next F-150, are still on track.

GM Moves Into the EV Truck World

Not to be outdone by its rival, GM announced it intends to get into the electric truck market. As reported in The Detroit News, during a recent financial report, GM CEO Mary Barra said the company is moving forward with plans to introduce its own range of electric-powered trucks. Details pretty much end there, however. Barra stated that further information would only be revealed "when competitively appropriate."

The timing of this step toward electrification was unlikely by chance, since the automotive rumor mill had GM in talks with Rivian. When those broke down, Ford stepped into the void with its half-billion-dollar investment. For now, GM's only fully electric vehicle is the Bolt hatchback, a compact four-door hatchback that can travel 238 miles on a full charge.

Tesla Pickup Truck

This one is primarily for fun, but we like what we're seeing. The folks at TopGear reported about design sketches for a proposed Tesla pickup truck. Penned by Istanbul-based automotive designer Emre Husmen, the designs are a hypothetical look at what a future Tesla pickup might look like. Based on the drawings, the result blurs the line between a work truck and sports car. In a brief description of the project, Husmen explains the truck would have a fully independent suspension, and that inspiration came primarily from the shape of the new Tesla Roadster supercar. There's a hint of the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup concept, first shown during the 2015 Detroit auto show (and rumored to finally be headed toward production within one to two years).

Rivian Road Trip

Rivian released a one-minute video of the company's R1T and R1S taking a New York-style road trip. The journey begins in Tribeca, the hyper-trendy downtown district in lower Manhattan, and takes the viewer roughly 80 miles east to Westhampton Beach in Long Island. The one-way trip should be easily within the approximate 200-mile range of the entry-level electric SUV or pickup.

Then again, as any savvy New Yorker knows, the planned two-hour drive can turn into a multi-hour nightmare when dealing with summer traffic. This might explain why Rivian's beach-themed journey took place during what appears a very cloudy and overcast day. Nothing wrong with having gloomy weather lend a hand when it comes to avoiding traffic and range anxiety, right?

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