- The Rivian R1T will be the first mass-market electric truck.
- But a field of established automakers are nipping at its heels.
- Here's how the R1T stacks up against the GMC Hummer EV, Tesla Cybertruck and others.
While there are a wide range of electric sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs on the market, a full complement of electric motors still eludes one class in particular: the full-size pickup. But that will change in just a couple months' time with the scheduled release of the Rivian R1T this September. While the R1T will beat the rest to market, it is merely the first of many electric trucks coming out over the next few years. Here's how it stacks up against the incoming competition.
General Motors created some buzz when it announced the relaunch of the Hummer SUV last year. Even more surprising was that the name would be used on not a gas-guzzling truck but an electron-guzzling off-road-oriented pickup. "Wow, this nearly 24-month wait will be interminable," we thought. And then holed up in our houses for a year and a half (and counting!) and promptly forgot about GMC's electric brick.
But the 2022 GMC Hummer EV is coming — it's almost here, in fact. Prospective buyers have reserved all of the first-year Edition 1 models; if you haven't plunked down cash yet, your next chance will be in the fall of 2022 when the Hummer EV3X is released. Buyers taking delivery this year will be the first to experience GM's long-range electric pickup.
Specs are impressive for this big beast: Three electric motors produce a combined 1,000 horsepower, enough to propel this truck, GMC says, from zero to 60 mph in just 3 seconds. The manufacturer also claims the Edition 1 can travel up to 350 miles on a charge and add 100 miles of range in 10 minutes using a high-output DC fast-charging station.
For reference, the R1T Launch Edition (also the only version available this year, and also sold-out) produces about 750 horsepower, but should still sprint to 60 in 3 seconds flat. The standard battery pack provides more than 300 miles of range, Rivian says, though a larger pack with more than 400 miles of range is planned for early next year.
So Rivian can match the Hummer in terms of performance, and will soon outlast it on long-distance road trips, too. The R1T is also far less expensive than the initial versions of the GMC Hummer EV. However, the Hummer has unique features including Crab Walk (which turns the rear tires of a stationary Hummer up to 10 degrees in the same direction as the fronts for low-speed diagonal movement) or Wrangler-like removable roof panels. Also on deck is GM's Super Cruise system, which allows for hands-free driving on certain limited-access roads like divided highways. The winner in this on-paper comparison depends on how much you value the Hummer's off-road prowess, and how long you can wait to get behind the wheel.
The Rivian R1T and GMC Hummer EV are both highly desirable, but their high prices — about $73,000 for the R1T Launch Edition and over six figures for the Hummer EV Edition 1 — will also make these trucks inaccessible for many. The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning starts at around $41,000, which is only about $6,000 more than a comparable gasoline model. Note too that the Lightning's price premium shrinks if you're able to take advantage of available federal and state EV credits.
The F-150 Lightning's specs are more modest in comparison to the headliners above. The standard pack delivers an estimated 230 miles of range, and the dual-motor powertrain produces 426 hp (though the 775 lb-ft of torque is substantial). The extended-range pack will boost range to about 300 miles and increase output to 563 hp. Ford says a Lightning with the bigger pack will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a quick 4.5 seconds.
In addition to the new powertrain, the Lightning replaces the F-150's solid rear suspension with a fully independent setup, which should translate to a more comfortable ride and improved handling. Ford's new BlueCruise system is also along for the ride and should function similarly to the Hummer EV's Super Cruise platform.
This is where our comparison gets a little cloudier. Chevrolet has announced that an electric Silverado 1500 is in the works, and it will be equipped with the same battery technology used in the GMC Hummer EV. But don't expect to see a Silverado EV at your Chevrolet dealership anytime soon. General Motors generally announces its vehicles far in advance — refer to the Hummer EV's unveiling in February 2020 for a release in fall 2021 as an example. If Chevy pulled the wraps off an electric Silverado tomorrow, chances are it wouldn't be available to purchase until late 2022. The only solid data point we have is that Chevrolet is targeting range of 400 miles.
The electric Ram 1500 is another vehicle that is confirmed to be in development, but few specifics are known at this point. This Ram will reside on the largest of parent brand Stellantis' upcoming EV platforms. This platform in particular is said to deliver a target of 500 miles of range. That figure is significantly more robust than what others are promising. While that might not matter much in everyday situations, a big battery is critically important for towing. Pulling a trailer causes an EV's range to drop precipitously, so having plenty of range to work with in the first place makes long-distance lowing possible. Unfortunately, the electric Ram 1500 isn't slated to enter production until the 2024 calendar year.
Our SEO team says we can't write about electric trucks without mentioning the Tesla Cybertruck. So here it is. Tesla Cybertruck. There, are you happy, Mike?
Anyway, Tesla made waves back in November 2019 when it pulled the wraps off the Cybertruck, seemingly the world's first vehicle styled solely with a protractor. While Tesla gets credit for already rolling out a concept vehicle, it sports too many details that we have a hard time believing would make it to production. Examples include the lack of exterior mirrors and the bullet-resistant bodywork. Tesla is also targeting 500 miles of range for the top tri-motor trim, which Tesla says can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. Our take? Wait till you see these things on the road before sending money to Elon to reserve one.
When the 2021 Rivian R1T finally rolls off the production lines, it will be the only electric pickup on the market. However, rivals from some traditional automakers aren't far behind, and some might be worth waiting for.