2021 showed us that trucks and SUVs don’t need petrol engines

The renaissance of modern electric vehicles has been hampered from day one by the physical limitations of the current state of battery technology. Inefficiencies in the form of heavy battery packs and low power density have long limited not only the range and performance of EVs, but also the forms they can take – there’s a reason Tesla started with a Roadster and not a Cybertruck. But steady advances in power systems in recent years — in addition to skyrocketing demand for larger, electrified vehicles fit for the U.S. market — have led to a turning point in 2021: the rise of EV pickups and SUVs.

Yes, we all know the Model X exists and Tesla “did it first” – spare me your tweets – but the sheer number and variety of new, pure EV pickup and SUV models, either ready to hit the showroom floor or being in active development is staggering compared to a few years ago. Let’s take a look at some of this year’s highlights.

GM is investing heavily in its proprietary Ultium battery technology, investing $35 billion in self-driving and EV technologies through 2025. The company also announced that it plans to sell 30 EV models by the end of 2025 and after 2035 only EVs with the 1,000 horsepower GMC Hummer EV serving as the vanguard.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

The Hummer EV has been a surefire hit since its debut last October. By December, more than 10,000 potential buyers had made deposits on the $112,000 Hummer Edition 1. Likewise, pre-orders of Hummer’s EV SUV variant unveiled in April sold out in minutes — not bad for a vehicle that just hit the shelves in December. hit the streets in the fall of 2023. Deliveries for the Hummer EV pickup are scheduled to begin this month. There have even been rumors of adapting the Hummer EV frame and power system to military applications, though no final decisions on that proposal have been made yet.

Hummers are just the beginning. In April, GM confirmed that its second EV model will be an electrified Silverado. We still don’t know much about the Silverado, other than that it will use GM’s Ultium battery technology, that the company is aiming for a range of more than 400 miles, and that the EV pickup will offer four-wheel steering, which shortens cornering. . radius’ at low speeds and increases cornering stability at high speeds – especially when towing loads.

We’ll have a full rundown of the Silverado’s capabilities once it makes its official debut at GM’s CES 2022 keynote address. Plus, in July, GM teased its third upcoming EV — a full-size GMC pickup truck, according to CNBC. At this point, virtually nothing else is known about it, even if it will use the existing GMC Sierra branding. Hopefully we’ll get some more hints in the new year.

Not to be outdone, the Stellantis Group (formerly FCA and umbrella company of Chrysler, Jeep Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and a host of others) announced in July that it too will invest $35 billion in its electrification efforts by through 2025 and 55 electrified vehicles (40 BEVs, 15 PHEVs) will be available in the US and European markets by the end of that year. Additionally, Stellantis is working on an all-electric Ram EV to compete with the Silverado and Ford F-150 Lightning, although the Ram isn’t expected to hit the market until 2024. seeking Wrangler BEV concept in March, released its “light hybrid” Wrangler Sahara 4XE in May and debuted its PHEV Cherokee 4XE in September ahead of the vehicle’s 2022 release.

Ford also had a year worth touring on its own horn, starting with the February release of the Mustang Mach-E. The EV was initially hesitant to launch, but solidified its position with the release of the performance GT edition. In all, Ford had sold more than 21,000 Mach-E units by last October, despite a handful of loose-bolt recalls and “deep-sleeping” software bugs. That’s not bad for a first-year crossover SUV that works to conquer customer nostalgia, but the Mach-E’s numbers are nothing compared to the hype that Ford’s upcoming F-150 Lightning EV has amassed.

The company’s electrification efforts have hardly been an industry secret, but when Ford debuted the Lightning on May 19 (or May 18 if you look at President Biden’s speech) the American car-buying public just about lost their minds as nearly 45,000 people signed up. to pre-order the EV pickup within the first 48 hours.

Interest in Ford’s upcoming light hybrid Maverick pickup has been no less rampant. The Detroit News reported in August that more than 100,000 people had signed up to reserve the minitruck, many of whom were California residents. Granted, those folks weren’t required to make a down payment, so whether all those pre-orders translate into actual sales — or people just decide to restore their existing ICE Fords with the eluminator system — remains to be seen.

Some of the biggest headlines in the 2021 EV truck space came from the amazing startup Rivian. While competitors like Lordstown Motors were critically short on cash and the subject of Justice Department fraud investigations, Rivian has already reached its first production milestone: actually producing vehicles (despite having to push its first delivery window from July to September). But that’s not half.

This year, the company also announced plans to install 10,000 charging stations in North America by 2023, unveiled a membership plan for owners that offers both roadside assistance and roadside assistance, as well as exclusive OTA software updates, and outlined its Remote Care program that would provide remote diagnosis and on-site repairs for the electric trucks. The startup also has big plans for the future. It announced plans to invest $5 billion in a second production plant in the US and is reportedly eyeing the UK as the site for its first international battery facility.

Some of those future plans include partnerships with other companies like Amazon — which owns a 20 percent stake in Rivian, bought 100,000 vehicles from the startup in 2019, and has already started making deliveries in San Francisco and Los Angeles with them — but they won exclusively for Ford. Despite Ford investing half a billion dollars in the EV startup two years ago, Ford announced in November that the two companies will no longer collaborate on an upcoming EV. It looks like the electric Lincoln rumors will remain dead for now.

FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images

At the other end of the headline spectrum, surprisingly, is Tesla. Despite the company’s hugely profitable year, the development of its Cybertruck is slow. While CEO Elon Musk announced in January that “volume production” of the EV SUV will begin in 2022, it increasingly looks like that will happen later in the year — after Ford’s F-150 Lightning and GMC’s Hummer EV hit the road. came, both of which debuted well after the Cybertruck did.

Of course, American automakers are far from alone in getting into the EV game. Mercedes announced in April that its compact SUV EQB is almost ready for production and will go on sale in the US next year. However, the concept of the ‘Sustainer’ van may take a little longer to hit the market. Hyundai, on the other hand, unveiled its Ioniq 5 SUV in February with plans to release it this winter, in addition to promising that its Genesis line of vehicles will go all-electric by the middle of this decade. Meanwhile, Kia’s Niro EV continues to be a quiet sleep hit.

We’ve seen a lot of hype and big promises about EV pickups and SUVs in recent years, but 2022 is going to be the year when everything comes down in the wash. Consumers will finally be able to see these vehicles on the street and in their neighborhood and likely breathe their necks while stuck in traffic, rather than just on a showroom floor or livestream presentation stage. This is a huge opportunity for automakers to further proclaim the benefits of battery electricity over their internal combustion predecessors – this time using America’s favorite type of vehicle.

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