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Data Point

With Ford on Top, Tesla and Rivian Face Uphill Battle in Electric Pickup Truck Consideration

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New research from Cox Automotive suggests that consumers shopping for electric pickup trucks are not all that different from their ICE-considering counterparts. In a third round of research, Cox Automotive found that the Ford F-150 Lightning is on top for shopper consideration when compared to its EV counterparts from Chevy, GMC (Hummer), Ram, Rivian and Tesla. The research suggests that shoppers are more likely to consider full-size EV trucks from brands they know or currently own.

“Ford’s full-size pickup has long been the best-selling, best-example of the genre, so perhaps it is no surprise that the F-150 Lightning arrives with a leg up on the competition,” noted Vanessa Ton, senior manager of Market and Customer Research at Cox Automotive. “Our studies continue to show the importance of brand strength, and that is particularly true in the full-size pickup truck segment, where brand loyalty often runs deep and fierce. This fact makes it particularly challenging for brands like Tesla and Rivian, both newcomers to the pickup segments.”

The survey was conducted in July and August, while two earlier rounds of similar research from Cox Automotive were undertaken in late 2020 and the spring of 2022. As more full-size EV pickups hit the market or step closer to full production, shoppers certainly have more to consider. In the latest research, truck shoppers who are in market and intend to purchase within the next two years were asked to consider a number of factors, including projected range, driving performance, styling and price. 

In the latest research, the Ram 1500 Rev came out on top for straight vehicle appeal (67%) but dropped to second behind the Ford once branding was revealed. Among shoppers, 67% would consider the F-150 Lightning ahead of models from Ram and Chevy (both at 63%). Forty-eight percent of shoppers indicated they would consider the GMC Hummer EV Pickup and the Rivian. The Tesla Cybertruck garnered 27% consideration, just below the pre-brand/model reveal appeal of 29%. 

APPEAL AND CONSIDERATION AMONG ELECTRIC PICKUP CONSIDERERS

In specific factors that matter to shoppers, the full-size Ford was on top in all five categories, scoring particularly well in “overall look/styling” and “technologically advanced.” The latest survey indicates that shoppers of full-size EV pickup trucks are motivated by reduced fuel costs and the expected positive environmental impact of driving an EV. As with all EVs, price is a challenge for consumers. Unsurprisingly, the lowest scores in the survey are related to price, with Tesla’s Cybertruck and the GMC Hummer EV scoring at the bottom of the list.

Top 5 Factors of Importance to Segment and Brand Consideration

“This research really shows how important it will be for a brand like Tesla to attract consumers and shoppers who are NOT traditional pickup truck buyers,” added Ton. “The new Cybertruck will have to convert shoppers who are not already pickup owners or intenders. It is natural to consider the new Tesla truck as part of the full-size pickup segment, but this research demonstrates Tesla’s need to attract a different audience.”

For more than a year now, since the launch of the Rivian RT1, the Hummer EV pickup and the Ford F-150 Lightning, the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team has been expecting strong growth in the full-size EV pickup market. Sales have increased – nearly 15,000 full-size EV pickup trucks were sold in Q2, more than double the number from a year earlier – but the era of big volume and big competition always seems like it’s just a quarter away. As a share of the EV market, full-size pickups are still quite small, roughly 5% in Q2, whereas full-size pickup truck sales account for nearly 14% of the larger U.S. market. 

Higher volume sales of EV pickups are still a way off, even though Ford and Rivian are well underway with sales. GMC Hummer EV pickup production has started slow, with only a handful sold last quarter. The much-anticipated Cybertruck is closer to production, but the expected delays are pushing – again – any hope of real Tesla volumes into next year. According to most reports, the Chevrolet Silverado EV is “coming soon,” but our team does not expect any serious volume efforts until 2024. The Ram 1500 REV is currently scheduled for launch in late 2024.

Full-size pickup trucks are uniquely American, and the expectation is that – someday – full-size EV pickups will further fuel EV growth in America.

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