Ford CEO Jim Hackett has confirmed the Detroit automaker is planning to produce both battery electric and hybrid versions of it’s F-Series vehicles, including the large F-150 pickup.
The confirmation, made at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit last week, follows the news that the automaker is planning 16 all-electric vehicles, including a “big surprise” for 2020 – which could certainly have been in reference to an all-electric F-150.
“We are going to electrify the F-Series with battery electric and hybrid and we are doing the same for Transit.
“We launched a PHEV version of Transit and that will be on a journey of electrifying Transit globally,” Hackett said, referring the PHEV Transit van unveiled in September last year.
Ford also sees the sense in providing battery electric power in work trucks, as it opens up possibilities for tradespeople to power tools on site.
“With the F-150 electric, you don’t have to have an expensive generator on site now,” Ford Executive Vice VP Farley said to an audience at the Detroit Auto Show last week.
“You can just plug your tools into your truck and that electric powertrain will run all the tools on the job site. Customers will pay for that because now they don’t have to buy a expensive $10,000 generator.”
The other benefit of an electric ute of course is the increased, immediate, torque offered by the powertrain – allowing better pulling and towing power.
So why isn’t fellow Detroit automaker General Motors openly considering a similar strategy?
Like Ford, General Motors has aired plans to go down this path. GM’s CEO Mary Barra responded to questions about a possible electric pickup truck at the Wolfe Research Global Auto Industry Conference earlier this year, but would not give any definite confirmation.
“Well, what I would say is we’ve been very clear. We believe in an all EV future. We have invested heavily in fuel cells as well but beyond that I don’t have anything specific to say. But I think if you look at where… our very strong statements are believing in all EV future… stay tuned,” she told analysts.
GM has previously put on record that an electric pickup or ute would not be on the cards for at least a couple of decades.
Mike Abelson, GM’s VP of global strategy, said at the FT Future of the Car Summit USA in Detroit in November 2018 that, “The core business is going to be the core business for a couple of decades to come.”
“There will not be any AV/EV pickups,” he said.
However GM also announced in November 2018 its plans to shut down five ICE factories to concentrate its focus on an electric future, admitting defeat in its efforts to curtail fuel efficiency regulations and the need to invest in a clean transport future.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.