Study: Electric pickups could replace nearly half of gasoline ones—with an ownership-cost savings

Pickup trucks are the bestselling vehicles in the United States, and many manufacturers are planning electric versions. That could help fleet operators reduce emissions and ownership costs, according to a new study from Geotab.

Geotab is a company that sells vehicle telematics systems. In October 2021 it worked with Enterprise Fleet Management to analyze data from 91,000 fleet vehicles, and concluded that 45% of pickups could be replaced with electric versions.

Looking specifically at the real-world distance these trucks are driven, Geotab found that 76% of trucks wouldn’t need to be charged during the day if they were electric. Most trucks studied didn’t exceed 280 miles of driving per day.

Electric pickup truck estimated range (via Geotab)Electric pickup truck estimated range (via Geotab)

Electric pickups are also expected to have higher prices than comparable gasoline or diesel trucks, but some of that premium can be offset by lower operating costs, Geotab noted. The company found a “sweet spot” of vehicles that drive short enough distances on a daily basis to eliminate range anxiety, but accrue enough annual mileage to provide a lower total cost of ownership than internal-combustion vehicles. That’s where the 45% figures comes from.

It’s worth noting that these estimates are based on the current positioning and pricing expected of electric trucks, which could change. But as more electric trucks reach production, fleet sales will likely help them achieve their maximum emissions-reduction potential. Fleets could put large volumes of EVs on the road at once—with extreme emissions reductions.

Over time, as electric pickups become cheaper than gasoline ones, the percentage of pickups that can replace gas ones at an ownership cost savings will of course skew closer and closer to 100%—save for some exceptional builds or use cases, perhaps.

2023 Chevrolet Silverado EV2023 Chevrolet Silverado EV

Automakers are considering fleet applications for their electric pickups. Ford’s F-150 Lightning Pro starts around $40,000, and the Chevrolet Silverado EV will also be a high-volume entry aimed at fleets.

Among other affordable models oriented to fleet use, production of the Lordstown Endurance is back on after a period of uncertainty. And other work-oriented models like those from Canoo could provide a lot of value in cost of ownership—if they make it to production.

Although no major automaker has yet announced a heavy-duty pickup, Magna has shown that the tech could be possible right now, without reengineering the rest of the truck.

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