The Age of Electrification
Keeps Automakers on Their Toes

Chevy was the first automakers out of the gate in the race to produce the first affordable long-range EV, introducing the Bolt EV in 2017. Its 65 kWh battery pack delivers an impressive EPA-estimated range of 259.  The powertrain is a permanent magnet electric motor driving the front wheels, outputting 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque with a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 93 mph.  With all these accomplishments and nearly a year of headstart on the rival Tesla 3, Chevy got accolades that the brand needed with the Bolt.  But the Model 3 was the sexy newcomer with better looks, an edge on all the rankings and a negligible difference in starting price, ultimately winning the competition with much higher sales figures.

Chevy’s answer with the 2022 Bolt is a refreshed interior and exterior, more standard options and a lower starting price. Bolt pricing now starts at $31,995 ($5,500 less for base trim than the 2021 model) and $35,495 ($7,500 less than the previous model) for the 2LT trim. Chevy continues maneuvering to stay relevant in the big leagues, introducing the 2022 Bolt EUV for just about $2,000 more than the 2022 Bolt.  The Bolt is far and away besting the Nissan Leaf on price, power and battery—with the Chevy nearly doubling the Nissan’s range.

In the luxury EV class, the handsome and sporty Ford Mustang Mach-E is turning heads and rating high against its plentiful pool of rivals that include the Telsa Model Y, Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace. All-new for 2021, it was designed specifically to be an electric vehicle while its driving experience delivers to the Mustang name.   Our tester was the Premium with AWD with MSRP of $49,700 (AWD adding about $2500 more than the starting price Mach-E). The extended range 88 kWh battery option added another $5K to its tag and gave it 270 miles of range (59 more miles than the standard range battery on the AWD).  Every Mustang Mach-E also comes with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced driver aids and the premium trim added a host of nice convenience and tech features.  There are no significant changes on the 2022 model.

We’ll get to the plan for fully electric pickups in a minute but first, let’s take a look at how far the mainstream American truck manufacturers have come in getting their loyal owners to even pay attention to a hybrid pickup much less a fully electric truck. It started 14 years ago, when Ford introduced the 3.5L EcoBoost engine, a V6 gas engine direct-injected with twin parallel mounted turbochargers, designed to deliver equivalent power and torque as the V8 while being cheaper to buy and cheaper on gas.  In 2017, the redesigned 3.5L EcoBoost added 10-speed automatic, multi-port fuel injection and new turbochargers to reduce the turbocharger lag and allow peak torque levels to be reached faster.

The 2021 third-generation PowerBoost engine teams the 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo engine and 10-speed automatic and adds a 35-KW 45 hp electric motor and a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery.  It sprints to 60 in 5.3 seconds while the gas mileage even for the 4WD is rated at 24 miles per gallon, meaning it will get some 700 miles on a full tank.  Electric only power is very limited with the gas kicking in for a smooth output, but the transmission is criticized for struggling with low-speed, light-throttle situations such as heavy traffic. Anther kink to work out is the braking, but handling and ride are right on.   The F-150 PowerBoost touts 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque and can pull 12,700 pounds.

Ford’s Pro Power Onboard mobile generator system allows you to power tools and appliances whether you’re stationary or driving.  Pro Power Onboard can be paired to regular gasoline engines, too, but with the PowerBoost it can generate up to 7,200 watts –enough juice to power a whole worksite.  A fold-out worktable in the center console is another “made-for-work” feature.

As always, Ford offers an endless array of configurations, not just in engines, but also in cabin and bed options and trim levels.  Our tester was the simply fabulous King Ranch SuperCrew with a base price just over $60,000.  The PowerBoost engine added $2,500 and it was loaded up with a chrome appearance package, tow technology package, FX4 off-road package,  Pilot 360 Active Prep package, twin panel sunroof and other niceties adding about $16,000 to its price tag.

So what’s in store for no-gas pickups?  Reservations are full for the just-launched limited edition Hummer EV Edition 1 and the Hummer EV 3X will follow in Fall 2022.  Tesla is building a new Gigafactory in Austin that will produce its fully electric Cybertruck.  The Cybertruck and the all-electric Ford  F-150 Lightning will launch as 2022 models.   In 2024, Chevy has an electric Silverado coming, and RAM and Toyota are promising electric truck roll-outs around the same timeline.

The true test for truck-makers will be if an electric pickup can perform just like a standard variant when it comes to payload and towing.  Mainstream truck manufactures know the answer must be yes!