(WKBN) – The automotive industry is in a race to see who produces the first all-electric pickup trucks for the American consumer.
Recently, we’ve seen concept versions from Tesla and Lordstown Motors. Images have also been released of a pickup from GMC, as well as one Ford is investing in.
It seems the trend is not slowing down.
“The question is, can they be made and sold profitably and is the market going to be there?” said the University of Michigan’s David Cole.
Cole is the former chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.
He says, while electric vehicles will address the growing political push to get away from gasoline and diesel-powered models, the cost of lithium batteries to power trucks like these is still 50% higher than he thinks it should be.
“The real differentiator, ultimately, between all of the manufacturers, whether they’re the new guys or the traditional guys, will be on that battery cost,” Cole said.
But Cole also believes even if cost issues can be addressed, battery power poses other problems.
“There are issues with temperature’s impact on batteries. Cold temperature, they don’t work as well, you have to heat the vehicle. There’s issues of grid capacity to charge,” he said.
Cole says right now, the nation’s power grid isn’t large enough to support mass use of electric vehicles, saying more than a few of these vehicles in any single neighborhood could significantly drain the local grid unless there’s a corresponding build-up in capacity.
In the end, Cole believes the ultimate success of electrics will depend on individual consumers.