Quite suddenly, large electric pickups have become the hottest thing you can’t yet buy. But they’re out there, looming, just waiting to see whether demand for this embyonic segment materializes.
Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Tesla, and Lordstown Motors all have a stake in the game, with the next two years promising to reveal exactly how much pent-up thirst exists for these battery-bound behemoths. Watching from the sidelines is Fiat Chrysler, an automaker whose historical aversion to EVs is a matter of record.
Not surprisingly, FCA plans to take a wait-and-see approach.
Asked about the ambitions of FCA’s rivals during an earnings call this week, CEO Mike Manley didn’t hop on board the gotta-have-an-EV-truck bandwagon. He’ll catch the ride if it proves itself worthwhile, not before.
“Pickup is a key franchise for us and we’re not going to sit on the sidelines if there’s a danger that our position gets diluted,” Manley said, per Bloomberg.
For now, the automaker is content to offer two flavors of full-size Ram, one old, one new, with heavy duty models rounding out the stable. A midsize would be nice, but that possible project’s still cloaked in uncertainty. For now, the Ram 1500 Classic, soon to enter its third year of production, serves those looking to spend less.
At least for now, it beats spending precious dollars on a costly development program with an uncertain payoff.
Despite unkind words spoken by former CEO Sergio Marchionne about the former Fiat 500e, FCA isn’t uninterested in electrification. Mild hybrids already abound in the cash-cow Ram and Jeep brands. The global popularity of its Jeep brand depends on widespread hybrid availability, and that’s just what the brand is going to get. While electrified Renegades and Compasses will tempt buyers mainly on the east side of the Atlantic, larger models like the next-generation Grand Cherokee also stand to go green. Count the upcoming Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer among that cohort, along with the looming plug-in Wrangler.
FCA’s merger partner, Groupe PSA, revealed a new modular electric vehicle platform this week, stating that it should find its way beneath compact and midsize vehicles by 2023. If FCA needs any more non-pickup EV help in the future, the platform’s there for the taking.
Of course, should demand for big EV pickups take off, there’s always the possibility of tapping Rivian for its in-house skateboard platform, saving the automaker time and R&D costs. Ford went its own way with the F-150 EV, so the two wouldn’t be platform buddies.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]