It’s an easy one journalistic trope to ask about every new electric car released will be a “Tesla-Killer.” Or which new electric car will “win” the electric car wars. Or whether Rivian, Ford, Hummer or Tesla will be the electric pickup to have.
All this is pointless fuss.
- The new Rivian R1T is a medium-sized to full-size luxury pickup aimed at wealthy adventurers.
- The new Ford F-150 Lightning is a full-size pickup that will drive everything from a practically focused work truck to a luxury rig for people who never use the bed but still want a truck.
- The new GMC Hummer EV is a giant (rumored to weigh more than 10,000 pounds) ultra-lux off-road vehicle for people who want the craziest pickup on this side of the Cyber truck. Or maybe the other side of the cyber truck.
- And of course we have the often delayed Tesla Cybertruck, which is its own brand of absurdity but which does not yet exist so we can safely ignore it.
All of these pickups have truck bodies, so it’s easy to compare them – but should we?
For a non-car person, they are all the same: large vehicles with a bed and an electric driveline. But for truck buyers, they all accomplish very different things – and will never cross-trade except perhaps of people who have never owned a truck before, but who are interested in it because electric is now available.
Ford F-150 Lightning
The F-150 Lightning is more like a traditional pickup, which makes sense because it’s the only one that’s not brand new. The F-150 name has been iconic for decades, and the Ford F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for longer than I have lived.
Ford knows what truck buyers want, and it puts them at a premium: practicality, toughness and new capabilities made possible by an electric propulsion system. Only the F-150 Lightning can power your house in a power outage, or produce such huge amounts of juice that a single truck can drive an entire construction site.
These are impressive features that will entice existing truck owners and truck curious to check it out. And I suspect this will be the first electric car that really resonates with the overflight country. No surprise there.
Ford recently began pre-production of Lightning and announced that it was doubling the production capacity to 80,000 trucks per year at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. This is great, but with more than 150,000 pre-orders, more than two years of production are already sold out – and that presupposes that Ford can even do so many, which is not a given given the production difficulties that all car manufacturers see nowadays.
Rivian, on the other hand, makes an unabashedly luxurious pickup. It’s something that does not really is available elsewhere on the market. There is no BMW or Mercedes-Benz pickup (although the latter made the X-Class for three years in some international markets, it was discontinued due to low sales).
It is not a work car and is not meant to be. It’s a luxury car first and a pickup second. And it is priced and specified accordingly. It’s also absolutely fantastic, and the first electric car pickup that actually started deliveries (albeit in small numbers). Rivian is aimed at owners of Tesla, BMW, Audi and other luxury cars and SUVs.
Although the Ford F-150 Lightning comes in advanced trim similar to the Rivian in price, they are very different trucks. They have different design philosophies, different vibes and completely different looks. For the outside observer, they are both electric pickup trucks – but for individual buyers, it becomes immediately obvious which one to buy.
Do you like camping and hiking and outdoor adventures? How about whipping up a gourmet meal at a tailgate? Or maybe you just like the finer things in life and want a car that reflects that. You are definitely a Rivian material.
If you like to lug stuff, practicality, towing, spare power for emergencies and not stand out from the crowd (too much), you may have already made a deposit on an F-150 Lightning.
2022 GMC Hummer EV
And then there’s the crazy GMC Hummer EV pickup. With a service weight matched only by its price tag and a design that fits a sci-fi movie, the Hummer is almost the only vehicle from a traditional carmaker that could possibly compete with the madness that is the Tesla Cybertruck.
The roof is removable, it can go from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, and it has a thousand horsepower. The on-screen user interface was literally designed by the same people who created the user interface for Black Panther.
It can drive sideways (type) and can have 37-inch tires, something that is usually reserved for off-road vehicles such as the Ford Raptor or a Jeep Wrangler with a large lifting kit. It’s a glove the size of Mjölnir thrown down by General Motors, which has been the electric car leader for Detroit Three for more than a decade now.
I do not know exactly who buys the GMC Hummer EV, which can cost well over $ 100,000 depending on the spec you get, but I know they will not consider anything as pedestrian as a Ford F-150.
The Reverse analysis – As a professional car reviewer, I am always asked for advice when buying new vehicles. I will ask some questions and make a recommendation based on the buyer’s personality, needs and magic instinct. And I will not have it easier than figuring out which electric pickup I should recommend.
But I suspect that for most EV pickup buyers, they do not even need to ask. One look and they know.
And if you really want to know which electric pickup to buy, sign up for Jordan Golson’s free newsletter on car reviews on Substack.