The Electric Truck Problem No One Is Talking About

GMC Hummer EV in the middle of the desert, illustration
Mike Mareen/Shutterstock.com

Electric cars and trucks are all the rage right now. Everyone wants a piece of the action, and almost every major auto manufacturer in the U.S. is building EVs. Americans are also super excited about electric trucks, but there’s just one big problem—actually buying one.

Tesla announced the Cybertruck back in 2019, and since then, all the big players have slowly shared plans to make a truck, including newcomers like Rivian. We have the new Ford F-150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T, GM’s Hummer EV and Chevy Silverado E, a RAM 1500 EV, eventually an EV Toyota Tacoma, and others.

It’s an exciting time to be a truck fan patiently waiting for electric pickup trucks. But, unfortunately, we’ll all need a lot of patience.

Good Luck Buying an Electric Truck

Ford F-150 Lightning EV on a job site
Ford

While every significant player in the automotive sector is working on all-electric trucks, a few big problems still make buying one a pipedream, at least for now. The demand is enormous, but the supply is tiny. We’re talking about supply constraints, production speed, and woes, not to mention high prices.

A prime example is the upcoming F-150 Lightning EV, as Ford expects to build and sell roughly 20,000 vehicles in 2022. For comparison, Ford sold over 700,000 gas-powered F-150s in 2021, which is roughly 36x more regular trucks than EVs. Moreover, gas-powered numbers are still expected to climb this year.

Initially, Ford said it wanted to build 50,000 F-150 Lightning’s in 2023 but recently increased that to 80,000 and now hopes it can make even more by the end of 2023. That’s still nowhere near enough.

Tesla is on track to sell over 1 million electric cars in 2022. The difference in electric truck numbers is staggering.

Rivian R1T electric truck
Rivian

The new Rivian R1T truck looks fantastic, and it was the first electric pickup to hit the market back in 2021. That said, we learned that Rivian was only producing two R1T trucks a day, which is far from a practical production volume. Even with recent production increases, the company has over 70,000 pre-orders to fill, and if you order its $70,000 truck today, it won’t ship until mid-2023.

Heck, this week, GMC announced that interest in the Hummer EV was vastly more than expected, and the truck is completely sold out. GMC is working overtime to fill reservations. If you order a Hummer EV today in either the $99k or maxed out $130,000 configuration, it won’t ship until 2024. Ouch!

Other rivals in the truck space are even further behind. The all-electric Chevy Silverado E won’t even start production until mid-2023, and we have no clue how many Chevrolet will be able to build once it finally gets released. The more expensive GMC Sierra E has a similar timeframe.

Stellantis is working on a RAM 1500 EV. We don’t know anything about it, except that it should arrive sometime in 2024. We’re also light on details surrounding Tesla’s Cybertruck. After initially saying it’ll come in 2021, then 2022, the latest news from Elon Musk is that production “should start” next year. When Tesla releases it, if ever, is another question entirely.

Are you noticing a trend yet? Every electric pickup available now or coming in 2022 will be extremely limited in supply or wildly expensive.

Ramping Up Production

Ford F-150 Lightning EV production plant
Ford

I get it. New technology takes time and undergoes all sorts of growing pains. It’s just frustrating that all these companies are pushing the dream of fast, powerful, capable electric trucks. In reality, it’ll be tough for the average buyer to get one in the foreseeable future.

We do have good news, though. Due to the overwhelming response to the F-150, Rivian, and Hummer EV being so positive, every manufacturer is working as hard as possible to ramp up production, meet demands, or fast-track plans and get as many EV trucks on the market as possible.

Ford plans to meet the soaring demand by doubling production at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Rivian just boosted its factory and is on track to build 150 trucks a day. GMC’s global VP Duncan Aldred claims production is on track, and the company has put several plans in motion to expedite the process.

Speaking of production, several manufacturers have plans or deadlines on when they’ll stop selling ICE (Internal combustion engines) completely. Most of those aren’t until like 2030, but EV production needs to improve rapidly to meet those goals at the current rate.

When Can I Buy an Electric Truck?

Chevy Silverado EV Charging
Chevrolet

So, when can you get an electric truck? That’s a complicated question. Ford plans to start delivering F-150 Lightning trucks to reservation holders in May. GMC is still slowly shipping its Hummer EV. And Rivian is playing catch-up on its pre-order list while increasing prices by 15% to meet rising production costs.

If you want one bad enough you’ll likely be able to get an F-150 Lightning or Rivian R1T this year, but other manufacturers aren’t anywhere close to releasing one. For most people, realistically, you should be able to buy an electric truck near the end of 2023.

Based on everything we’re seeing so far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Chevy move up its launch date, RAM hurrying things along, and Tesla pushing hard to finish designing its Cybertruck and build it in 2023.

Unless you pre-ordered an electric truck or get lucky and find a used Rivian R1T or F-150 Lightning later this year, good luck getting one anytime soon. Even if you find a used electric pickup for sale, due to supply and demand, the resale value will skyrocket.