Silverado EV Forum banner

Automotive News: Ford, GM and Ram primed for EV pickup battle

631 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  HawaiiEV
I wonder if @HawaiiEV identifies somewhat with the "TJ Quigley" fellow the article talks about below. Guy lives in SoCal... Has a Toyota Mirai and a Prius. But Quigley believes in the future of BEV trucks. I guess Hawaii Guy won't relate with the SoCal portion heh.

Article published Jan 1, 2023

Ford, GM, Ram gear up for EV pickup competition



Less than a year after Ford Motor Co. opened a gleaming assembly plant at its historic Rouge Complex to build the F-150 Lightning, it's already tearing apart some of the walls to expand. Ford is growing the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center by 50 percent while workers inside continue building Lightnings around the clock. It's a delicate dance between production and construction, with autonomous robots maneuvering truck frames past stacks of steel beams and other building materials blocked off by orange caution tape.

General Motors plans to begin shipping the Chevrolet Silverado EV in a few months, starting with a work truck in the spring and a loaded-up consumer version later in the year that will top $100,000. It will follow that with the GMC Sierra EV pickup in 2024, around the time Stellantis plans to launch the Ram 1500 EV, which will be revealed in concept form this week at CES in Las Vegas. "We expect it to be relentless," Darren Palmer, general manager of Ford's battery-electric vehicles, said of the competition. "We welcome that. It's great for the industry because we're going to push each other to go further."

Beyond the Detroit 3, startups Rivian and Lordstown Motors are selling their own electric pickups, and Tesla has said its Cybertruck, originally promised for 2021, will reach customers by the end of 2023. Compared with the conventional pickup segment, which has a fiercely brand-loyal customer base and the same major players year after year, the electric truck market is a far more wide-open race.

Analysts say Ford's head start over the other legacy pickup makers doesn't guarantee future success. Even brands such as Ram that come later to the party could carve out sizable chunks of the segment, said Paul Waatti, manager of industry analysis at AutoPacific. "Being first to market doesn't always mean you're going to be the most successful in the long run, and Ram has a lot of wind at their sail right now," Waatti said. "I'm sure they're benchmarking hard against everything that's already out there, and that could be to their advantage because they already know what everybody else has in store, and they're going to try to beat wherever they can."

GM's strategy: Likewise, GM isn't worried that Ford entered the market first, said Michael MacPhee, director of Chevy truck marketing. "We don't have any hubris as it relates to the competition available for buyers, and that's why we've put so much emphasis and effort on making sure this is the absolute best truck for our buyers," MacPhee said. "That's why we did the ground-up, fresh, clean-sheet approach. And that's why we put it with the Ultium technology. That's what's going to separate us from some of the more mainstream competition."

Chevy was intentional about starting the Silverado EV from scratch, rather than adapting the gasoline-powered model, MacPhee said. The result is a GM-estimated 400 miles of range — vs., at most, 320 for the Lightning — while also offering 10,000 pounds of towing capability, four-wheel steering and a midgate that increases cargo capacity. "At the essence of every Silverado EV reservation holder is a customer who wants the truck to do truck things," MacPhee said. "And that's important for us because no matter what we do, there's Silverado hardworking DNA put into all of our full-size pickups."

The Sierra EV will have similar range and capabilities as the Silverado EV when it debuts. In a statement, a GMC spokesman said, "We are confident that customers will be thrilled with GMC Sierra EV's unique mix of distinct bold styling, purposeful technology, luxurious appointments and next-level truck capability."

Chevy has more than 170,000 reservation holders for the Silverado EV, with more than half of them new to GM, MacPhee said. Fewer than 40 percent currently have a pickup, and they are more concentrated on the U.S. coasts, slightly younger and more affluent than today's Silverado buyers. "That's going to be an opportunity for us to talk to a new customer versus our traditional truck buyer," he said. "That's really the big difference."

Attracting new buyers: Newcomers have been key to Ford's early success with the Lightning. The automaker has said about 70 percent of orders came from people new to Ford and new to pickups.

They include TJ Quigley, a day one reservation holder from Southern California who took delivery in June of a Lightning Lariat with the extended-range battery. Quigley previously owned a Toyota Prius and Mirai. He said he switched to a pickup because he camps a lot and liked features such as the front trunk and onboard generator. "It's been a great fit for my lifestyle," he said. "I feel kind of dumb that I haven't had one before." Quigley also had reserved a Cybertruck and Rivian R1T. He had an opportunity to buy the Rivian first but ultimately chose the Lightning based on Ford's production pedigree. "I just thought that Ford's not going to launch their premier vehicle, the F-150, and not do it right," he said. "They're not going to mess it up because they can't."

Keith McCluskey, CEO of McCluskey Chevrolet in Cincinnati, called the Silverado EV a "game-changer" for the brand and said he anticipates it will attract many first-time pickup buyers. "I, without question, would hate to sit back and see Tesla come out with their Cybertruck, or somebody else come out with EV trucks, and us not be in the EV game," said McCluskey, who is chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council. "We've got a foot in both camps, is kind of the way we talk about it," he said. "If things are a little stronger on ICE than everybody's predicting, GM's going to win, and we're going to win. If things get real strong with EV, and there's no range anxiety anywhere, then that's going to turn out just right."

Delivering the plan: Ford was able to reach the market before GM and Ram because it based the Lightning on the gasoline F-150 instead of waiting for a ground-up vehicle with a dedicated battery architecture. Another advantage of that strategy is being able to leverage the F-150's long-established supplier network for parts. The fact that both versions share the same paint and body shop helped reduce potential launch issues, Ford's Palmer said.

The Lightning debuted in the middle of the global microchip shortage, but Ford has been able to keep production humming by prioritizing it over less profitable models.
The company says it's on track to reach annual production capacity of 150,000 next year, roughly double today's level. "We've had all these things thrown at us, but we're still sticking to the plan and delivering it," said Corey Williams, manager of Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant as well as the Lightning facility nearby. "It's about understanding the importance of it all to deliver."

To stay ahead as more competition arrives, Ford aims to keep ratcheting up Lightning production, improve owners' vehicles with over-the-air software updates and bring out another electric F-Series product, which will be built at the Tennessee assembly plant Ford plans to open in 2025. "We'll never rest," Palmer said. "We're already working on the next generation."

Watching and adjusting: Stellantis, meanwhile, is still fine-tuning the first generation of the Ram EV. It's closely watching how the market responds to the Lightning and other electric pickups to see where Ram can create advantages. "It's a fact that we are coming slightly after them," said CEO Carlos Tavares, who will be a keynote speaker at CES in conjunction with the Ram EV unveiling. "But it's also a fact that we have the opportunity to adjust the competitiveness and the appeal of our own trucks to what they are doing."

Ram has been gathering consumer feedback on its electric pickup through its Ram Revolution insider program and a series of town hall conversations. "Where I think Ram is going to separate ourselves from the rest is with the full knowledge of what our competitors are doing," Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. said. "We will push past our competitors in terms of those important metrics like towing and hauling and, in the future, charge time, range and things of this nature." Koval acknowledged that Ram is "in a race" and can't settle for merely acceptable. "This is competition," he said. "We want to be the best."

Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, expects Ram to separate itself from the pack with a range extender that could make it more appealing to those looking for a work truck. "Ram is planning an extended-range model where it will have a small gas-powered engine to power the electric drivetrain," Fiorani said. "So that will improve on the current paradigm."

Challenges ahead: Despite high demand for electric pickups, the next few years could be challenging for the Detroit 3 as they shift more of their production to EVs, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal research analyst at Guidehouse Insights. "Keeping the battery costs under control is going to be critical for everybody in the industry to be able to sell EVs at an affordable price point and still have a decent profit margin on them — or any profit, for that matter," he said.

Ford executives said the company's early profits on EVs have been wiped out by rising materials costs. It already has increased the price of the Lightning three times since the truck's launch, with the entry-level model rising to nearly $58,000 now, including shipping, from $40,000 initially. MacPhee said GM expects the Silverado and its other EVs to be moneymakers. The company told investors in November that its EVs would be "solidly profitable" by 2025, when it projects they will generate $50 billion in revenue, which is more than Ford brought in from its full F-Series line in 2021.

Another challenge will be building enough batteries for all the EVs that automakers intend to produce. GM is ramping up output at an Ultium Cells battery plant in Ohio, its first with joint venture partner LG Energy Solution, and has plants under construction in Tennessee and Michigan. Ford is planning multiple battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee, and Stellantis signed joint venture agreements this year with LG and Samsung SDI for battery plants. "There's a lot of moving pieces here," Abuel-samid said. "They have to get the products. They have to execute building the products. They have to manage their supply chains. They have to make sure that they build the batteries, get the materials for the batteries and keep all the costs under control. ... They face some pretty serious challenges."

Vince Bond Jr. contributed to this report.

Tire Wheel Automotive lighting Automotive tire Motor vehicle

Stellantis will reveal its Ram 1500 electric truck, scheduled for 2024, in concept form at CES this week.

Automotive parking light Tire Wheel Automotive side marker light Vehicle

F-150 Lightnings charge at the end of the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center assembly line.
See less See more
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
I’m not sure, because I’ve always owned a truck and I expect this truck to be as good as my previous trucks doing “real truck things” at a price I can afford. We have owned hybrids and own the PHEV RAV4 Prime now, I have a Prius Prime on order also as a family backup efficiency beater to replace an old corolla. I’m not drinking the kool-aide, I love automobiles and motorcycles, I’m a mechanic and I’m not interested in compromising, especially long term use of such an expensive truck.
I also have a lot of experience in the realities of electrical grids and green energy, I have many good friends working for Helco and I design and install solar with battery storage for a living. I’m the perfect customer for the Silverado EV, having owned and used the Escalade EXT for years and I’m not above criticism of it or any other tech/vehicles deficiencies.
We shall see how it goes and if I can afford it I’ll be one of the first to put my hard earned money where my mouth is, running off mostly “renewable” energy. No doubt someone will find a way to discount my opinions and criticisms as “politics” because it doesn’t fit into their political mold and expectations. 😂 I would happily tell such a person what I think of people who can’t tolerate other people and their opinions/beliefs, last I checked this was a free country and everyone I know is a little different, that’s a good thing. 😉
See less See more
i'm interested to see what RAM shows off. seems they're pretty late to the game, but then maybe they're more agile because they're smaller. they also might have tech advantages from other holdings in Stellantis' portfolio and possibly leaner management that gets in the way less than GM/Ford. it does feel like they're coming out of left field though in terms of the EV truck market...
I design and install solar with battery storage for a living. I’m the perfect customer for the Silverado EV...

Random question, I can't tell if you're actually for or against the proliferation of battery deployment across residential/consumer applications. If you install solar + ESS, which system(s) do you push to minimize all that Cobalt/rare-earth stuff you're concerned about? Tesla Powerwall systems don't seem to be your cup of tea with their existing nickel-cobalt-manganese design that you feel are unsafe and use a lot of that evil cobalt. Their lithium iron phosphate (LFP) ESS aren't coming out for a while... and even then I don't know if you're a fan of that since the rare earths being used are still heavily impacted by the foreign supply chain.

I'm not sure which residential ESS batteries you think are better today and if you like where the trend(s) are headed tomorrow.
I install almost exclusively LFP except for Generac which is using NMC. As I said before LFP is a lot better for the environment then NMC Is now and is uniquely suited for home install due to the size and weight. Jury is still out on long term reliability given that all the cells are manufactured in China. I’m not against transitioning to EV vehicles and especially not against home storage in a market like Hawaii. I’m merely trying to point out some of the issues of saying EV is the only choice and someone buying an ICE is bad and doing the wrong thing. It’s just not true and I don’t like blanket philosophy’s and rhetoric that paint these issues as black and white when there is mostly grey area now.

No doubt EVs are the future and home energy storage is a reality now that makes sense economically in a lot of markets even if there are some environmental issues. As the markets mature things will improve with what we have now and future technologies will make EV the ubiquitous choice as solar with home storage is now in Hawaii.
I’m not against environmental compromises either, they have and always will be a reality of human civilization. But to pretend like all new “green” tech is all roses and sunshine and the only logical choice at the present time for the majority is a load of BS.

I don’t install Tesla powerwall and the issues with non redundancy reliability and the service especially in a place like Hawaii make it a non starter in my opinion.
See less See more
Speaking of home storage, how well does it work in a greyer environment such as the Pacific Northwest? Would I just be charging the home batteries mostly from the grid, or would solar (or mini hydro, or wind) be able to make a dent in my reliance on utility provided power?

Also curious how the system works in general. Does the house operate directly off of the batteries, which then replenish from the grid during off peak hours? Or do the batteries take on the role of an on-demand generator, with a system that switches over automatically when it senses an outage?
I’m sorry I can’t speak directly to your market, I don’t know your utility, rules and rates or specific power needs. Solar would behave very differently there.
In Hawaii we have plenty of sun, Helco no longer offers net-metering and the grid is unreliable. While battery systems are often sold as grid charged backup systems on the mainland, in Hawaii we use batteries to shift solar power to run the house off solar at night to avoid paying the highest electric costs in the country. Most of the time the batteries will be sized such that the house usage during the night still leaves 30% left over for backup in case of grid outage as well. These systems are islanding so when the grid goes down they switch to running independently of the grid seamlessly and maintain loads, recharging the batteries when the sun returns. That’s the newer technology as previously AC coupled batteries provided backup but could not charge until the grid returned. We do a lot of full off grid systems as well as business and utility scale projects which are all very different from the typical grid tied residential system.

I recommend you reach out to reputable installers in your area for a quote and customized solution, any engineer worth their salt will be excited to explain your options and how they can benefit you.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 7 of 7 Posts