When Ford Motor Co. surveyed American truck owners last year, the automaker received a clear message: “Keep your hands off my truck.” Only 40 percent said they’d be “excited” about an electric pickup.
That truck, like it or not, is here. Now the question is whether consumers — and Congress — will join Ford and other automakers for the ride.
The Ford F-150, an iconic American brand with a seven-decade history, will go electric in 2022. President Joe Biden will tour the vehicle’s Dearborn, Michigan, factory on Tuesday in advance of Ford’s big reveal of the new truck, the Lightning, on Wednesday.
The president will make a case for his infrastructure plan, including $174 billion for electric vehicle technology and 500,000 vehicle charging stations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the plan “left-wing social engineering,” but Ford likes the way Biden thinks.
The company is a key player in what has been a rapid political turnabout that has corporate America ahead of the Washington curve on climate policy. While their onetime Republican allies in Congress wield fossil fuels as weapons in a culture war, Ford and other companies are moving ahead without them.
“The politics around climate change haven’t caught up with where the stakeholder community is,” said Sasha Mackler, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project. “Big companies are making their own commitments and actually doing things with respect to the energy transition. The Ford F-150 is part of that.”
And it will be a particularly important case to watch. Pickups, especially the F-150, are deeply rooted in the American psyche and the economy. And their sales are heavily concentrated in conservative states where high-speed electric charging stations are few and far between.
In Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota, more than 40 percent of all vehicles sold are pickups. In South Dakota, Alaska and Idaho, more than a third of all vehicles sold are pickups, according to a Cox Automotive analysis.
Those are also states with the lowest density of high-speed charging stations, according to Department of Energy data, and could be the biggest beneficiaries of Biden’s plan.
Ford and its automaker allies want Washington to ramp up spending on electric vehicle infrastructure. [Continue reading…]