Nissan Teases Electric Pickup Truck, Ford To Build All New Electric Vehicle In Kentucky

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Mention a new battery electric sedan to people and watch their eyes glaze over. It could clean your house, do the laundry, and make buttermilk biscuits for breakfast, but most people would rather stick a fork in their eye than drive a sedan. But say the magic words “pickup truck” and people perk up their ears. There is probably no country on Earth where pickup trucks are more highly prized than America, so the US would seem to be the perfect place for an electric pickup truck to be offered, especially if it is reasonably affordable. (Australians also love pickup trucks, which they call utes. Theirs are often seemingly half the size of an American pickup truck.)

People go all gaga over the Tesla Cybertruck, Rivian R1T, Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevy Silverado EV, and RAM REVolution 1500, but none of them can really be characterized as affordable. In fact, most of them aren’t even in production yet and may take longer to reach showrooms than anticipated. There is a wildcard in the mix as well. Canoo has a dandy electric pickup truck that is about the size of an Australian ute that is reportedly all ready to go, but it is struggling to find the money to build it.

Nissan Teases Electric Pickup Truck

At the Japan Mobility Show earlier this month, Toyota (Yes, Toyota!) introduced its EPU concept, a battery electric pickup truck it is considering building someday in the far distant future, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Visually, it looks like a smaller version of the Rivian R1T, with a load bed just big enough to carry the stuff most people use a pickup truck for.

Citing a report by Automotive News, Autoblog says Nissan is also considering a lightweight electric pickup truck for the US market. The vehicle would serve two purposes: First, it would maintain Nissan’s truck portfolio as it pulls out of the full-size market. Second, it would expand the company’s offerings in the EV segment.

Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s head of global product strategy and product planning, told Automotive News, “One thing you can be sure about is we’re going to keep investing in the truck segment. How do we evolve is the question that we are discussing internally. Eventually, we will have to electrify the truck.”

“They don’t want to be in the Rivian or the Cybertruck space,” Tyler Slade, Nissan’s U.S. dealer board chairman, told Automotive News in a separate interview. “They want to be in the affordable $40,000 range.”

Before you get all jiggly at the idea of an affordable electric pickup truck from Nissan, consider this. The company is winding down production of its full size Titan pickup, which is still a slow seller in the US market despite 20 years of trying. At the same time, Nissan is prioritizing the electrification of medium and full size SUVs. “The demand for electrification is concentrating today much more on the C-SUV and D-SUV [segments],” Espinoza told Automotive News. “I see trucks a little bit on the later stage. The key here is to read the customer requirements accurately and jump on the wave at the right moment.”

Automotive News believes any electric pickup truck from Nissan is probably not in the cards until 2030 or later. Patience, grasshopper.

Ford Promises All New Electric Vehicle

Courtesy of Ford

In an exclusive report, WDRB News in Louisville, Kentucky said Ford is planning an “all new” electric vehicle to replace the Ford Escape after production ends in 2025. The Escape was once one of Ford’s best selling cars until the market embraced larger, heavier, thirstier — and more profitable — vehicles.

A source familiar with the company’s plans told WDRB News that adding an EV at the Louisville Assembly Plant is one of many plant-by-plant “product commitments” Ford made to the union in the tentative four-year labor contract the parties reached on October 25. Union contracts typically include company commitments to bring new products and upgrade plants — commitments that are prized because they provide job security.

Todd Dunn, president of UAW Local 862, the local that represents the 3,200 hourly workers at LAP, said Thursday he wasn’t aware of the specific product committed to the plant, but he said all of Ford’s North American plants will receive commitments through the contract. Dunn noted that LAP is the closest Ford plant to the BlueOval SK EV battery factories in Hardin County, Kentucky, which will supply batteries for Ford EVs.

“They’ve measured the plant. They’ve reviewed the plans.They know what they’re going to build now, three years from now. They’re starting to work on design and all that,” Dunn said.

The EV commitment is a win for LAP, considering Ford had no plan for the Escape beyond the 2025 model year, the source said. The hope is that the “all new” EV — Ford hasn’t been any more specific about the model — is the first of several EVs that could bring the plant back to a three-shift operation for the first time since 2017, the heyday of the Escape, the source said.

Ford is aiming for an expansive set of EVs in the coming years, while the company has backed off the pace of initial plans amid uncertainty about market demand but has yet to announce a fully electric version of a crossover vehicle like the Escape. When visiting Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville in May, Ford CEO Jim Farley was vague when asked about the long-term plan for the Louisville Assembly Plant.

“We want their (LAP employees’) work to be building a vehicle that we’re deeply passionate about, where the customers can’t imagine their life without it. And we have the opportunity in the two row crossover market to do that. So, I think they should be really excited about their future.” Separately, Farley said Ford is no longer going to build Escape or Edge type vehicles, which suggests that whatever Ford has in mind for a new electric car, it will be larger than either of those vehicles.

Ford recently introduced a battery electric Explorer for European customers. Perhaps that vehicle offers a hint about what the new electric car for the Louisville Assembly Plant might be.

The Takeaway

The EV revolution seems to have hit a bit of a speed bump lately, but that doesn’t mean it has stopped moving forward. There are new products in the pipeline, greater availability of used EVs for sale, and new government policy initiatives coming that will greatly improve the number and quality of public charging stations. EV sales in America are now nearing the point where mainstream acceptance will begin to accelerate. So keep calm and charge on. The future will be here before we know it.

 


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