I wish I hadn’t bought the story.
Ford, the pickup truck gorilla, was going to take over the electric pick up market which was going to crush the gas and diesel portion over the next few years.
Ford knows the pickup business like nobody else. The Japanese and Koreans know new cars, but trucks are a mystery for them. The Germans can spell BMW, but for hauling a boat or a jalopy, “nein.”
So when Ford brought in new management, a swami from Apple, and committed at least five years of earnings to building lithium ion batteries and the vehicle to put them in, I figured they were going to win the gold medal.
They had Tesla, GM, and upstart Rivian to beat. Elon had an Andy Warhol design, but it looked like it would have big trouble hauling gladiolas.
GM, well, it had Mary Barra talking trash on Bloomberg, but if it couldn’t be Ford in gas and Diesel trucks, how was it going to finish first in electric pickups?
Rivian was a novice, parked in the old Mitsubishi plant in Bloomington, Illinois, and Ford owned 12% of the stock, so they had an Insider’s view of their progress–or lack of it.
They held four 10s in the pickup poker game for domination. I was waiting for the Lightning to strike and the stock would reach for Tesla heights.
Then stuff started to go wrong. Everything was delayed because the computer chips were stuck in Long Beach or Shanghai, and the Chinese Communists were quarantining the workers because they were paranoid about COVID. I wonder why?
Lithium was in short supply and the battery plants were sluggish in pulling things together. Everything was going up in price, so Ford kept raising their prices on F-150 Lightnings, which were late to the dealers.
Finally they put a few sexy Lightnings on the street and people started towing things. After all, these vehicles were not Tesla Y models for the country club luncheons. They were theoretically supposed to pull things and get dirty before they ran out of juice in the forest.
Real people started pulling awkward, ugly stuff, not the nicely designed magazine tests where Ford was a big advertiser. Instead of getting 250 miles before a recharge was needed, they struggled to pass 100 miles before drivers started sweating.
Ford’s tests were usually in mild weather on fairly flat surfaces. But then Joe Public videoed some of their tests and put them on YouTube. Don’t you hate that if you are Ford?
GM and Rivian got similar results. Elon Musk was still cracking the whip, but he was also trying to save Ukraine and figure out his Twitter fiasco.
Ford stock is down almost 40% from its euphoria of nine months ago. Their $35,000 pickup is now $50,000, and it is breathing heavily, carrying a backpack uphill. Folks who would love the thrill of pulling a boat with their electric are having second thoughts.
Life is tough when you are trying to do something that hasn’t been done.
Question: What would an electric truck have to be able to pull for you to purchase one?