The F-250, F-350, and F-450 Lightning won't be coming to a dealer near you.
If there's one vehicle segment that will stick as closely as possible to the established status quo, it's heavy-duty trucks like the Ford F-250, F-350, and F-450 Super Duty. Ford unveiled the new F-Series Super Duty last week, and it boasts several technological and safety upgrades, most of which the average customer is not interested in, judging by our comments section. These customers want a truck that can tow and haul, and that's it. They'll happily live with manual windows as long as the truck can pull 23,000 pounds without breaking a sweat.
That's why we don't see this segment going electric anytime soon, and neither does Ford's CEO, Jim Farley.
"If you're pulling 10,000 pounds, an electric truck is not the right solution. And 95 percent of our customers tow more than 10,000 pounds," Farley told Automotive News at the recent press event for the redesigned Super Duty. "This is a really important segment for our country, and it will probably go hydrogen fuel cell before it goes pure electric."
The marketing manager for Ford trucks, Todd Eckert, also stated that buyers in this segment hadn't shown much interest in EVs, opting instead to focus on a truck that gets the job done. "We haven't seen a huge clamoring," said Eckert. "It's about productivity, capability, and efficiency. Right now, gas and diesel really serve those needs."
That means Ford has to tread extremely carefully, as the Super Duty's market share is more than 50% in the utility, mining, construction, and emergency response vehicles segment.
We wouldn't take Farley's comments on fuel cell vehicles too seriously, however, as it's likely a reference to the short refueling times related to hydrogen vehicles. Currently, it's the only viable refueling alternative to stopping for gas. EV charging times are dropping rapidly, but charging a car is simply not as easy as pulling into the nearest gas station and filling the tank.
EVs definitely have a sweet spot within the commercial market, but you can rule them out completely if the job includes towing.
The F-150 Lightning has been slated several times for its poor towing performance, yet demand is at an all-time high. While Ford quotes towing figures for the Lightning, most customers buy it knowing the limitations or simply don't care.
It's a different story with the Super Duty, and the proof is to be found in the two new powertrains. These days it's bonkers for a manufacturer to invest money in a new ICE powertrain, yet Ford designed an all-new 6.8-liter V8 for the Super Duty. The Blue Oval has also substantially upgraded the existing 7.3-liter V8 and developed a new high-output diesel motor.
These are clear indications that heavy-duty trucks will be the last to cave to full electrification, but that won't happen anytime soon.