Can electric trucks breakthrough gas and diesel pickup loyalty?

Credit: R1T from Rivian | Cybertruck from Arash Malek | Nikola Badger from Trevor Milton

Electric trucks haven’t yet made their way to the market, but plenty of them are announced. The big question is: Will EV trucks ever see the success that sedans and crossovers have? Can they be more popular than the gas and diesel trucks that are widely utilized across the world?

Pickup trucks are popular outside of the United States. In Canada, China, and even Australia, pickups are used by everyone from construction use to daily drivers. Their versatility as a luxury vehicle or a way to move large objects from one location to another makes them one of the more feasible types of vehicles available to consumers. For years, trucks have been listed as powerful, sturdy, and capable machines that have loyal consumer bases because of their adequacy for a wide range of activities.

But with the ongoing transition away from gas powertrains and toward electrification, trucks are simply next on the list to receive battery-powered operation. With several manufacturers releasing designs, pricing, and other variables for electric trucks, the question remains of whether or not the EV truck segment as a whole will be able to make a dent in the popularity of petrol-powered trucks in the future.

There seem to be several boundaries that EV trucks need to cross into to gain the trust and secure a sale to a driver who is interested in a truck but has their mind set on gas or diesel powertrains. I believe that one is going to be proving effectiveness in “work” settings like towing, off-roading, and hauling. The other is breaking through the brand loyalty that many truck buyers have with a certain manufacturer. Interestingly, it is tough to determine which will be harder for an EV truck maker to break, but it will likely be switching an owner away from their usual manufacturer.

Truck owners seem to hold a loyalty to their favorite manufacturer that is unmatched by owners of other segments. All too often, especially in my neck of the woods, I see and hear truck owners talking about why their manufacturer is the best, why others cannot seem to compare, and why they’ll never buy another brand of truck. Sometimes, you’ll even see the infamous bumper sticker of a kid peeing on a rival truck maker’s logo.

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But breaking a consumer away from a brand that they have put many years, and many dollars, into owning a certain vehicle is arguably one of the most difficult parts of selling cars. Past the production issues, which have plagued many car companies, Tesla included, for years, growing a brand is difficult. To have a consumer willingly switch brands is a tough task, and it usually relies on that company providing a massive shortcoming to that consumer in particular.

For example, bad customer service, poor quality, or even a political stance can cause a consumer to switch sides and consider other options. But these things are rare occurrences, so to really convince someone to try a different brand without any negative experiences really requires a product that makes someone go, “Wow, I need that.”

Credit: @KimPaquette | Twitter

Electric trucks certainly have the pizzazz and the appeal to make this happen. I would argue that the Cybertruck is probably the truck that will most likely drive more people to switch from gas or diesel-powered machines to electric ones. Simply because the design is so unique, many people may just be looking for something new that looks “tough” and “durable.” The Cybertruck certainly fits that bill.

However, the Rivian R1T has it’s own advantages too. Because of the fact that it has more of a “traditional” truck look, which is exactly what Tesla and Elon Musk were looking to avoid, it may be more fitting for many recurring truck buyers. It has the durability; it has the look, it has the options. It also is around the same price as many other trucks on the market, so the “too expensive” argument goes out of the window for those that still use it.

The next real test is proving durability and effectiveness. We have seen the Cybertruck pull the F-150 in a tug of war, but people still may be looking to see the vehicle perform normal everyday work. Same with the R1T.

The typical truck buyer is likely hauling things as small as 2x4s or as large as a boat. Before religious pickup buyers truly accept EV trucks, the manufacturers will have to prove that their products are capable of hauling normal, everyday things and large and difficult items. Performance and overall use capabilities will be proven before any truck buyers consider an electric option.

Please e-mail or tweet your thoughts about this subject. I am certainly interested in hearing what you all have to say about trucks and how EV makers can start making a dent in gas-powered pickup sales once deliveries begin. I think it will take more than a new, fresh, and fun way to drive a car to swing consumers to the “other side,” unlike it was with the sedan segment. Sedans are sedans, and they’re all pretty similar. I don’t believe there is as much brand loyalty on that side of things, but I could be wrong.

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Can electric trucks breakthrough gas and diesel pickup loyalty?
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