Ford’s electric version of America’s most American pickup truck, the F-150, is here. “This sucker’s quick,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday when he took one for a spin in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Lightning’s debut is a big moment for the auto industry and for truck buyers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford was selling on average 100 F-150s per hour. The model has been the bestselling light truck in the US for more than four decades, and the whole Ford F-series line generates more profit than McDonald’s.
Five of the 10 bestselling vehicles in America last year were pickup trucks, adding up to 2.4 million units. Meanwhile, total electric vehicle sales in the US from all manufacturers in 2020 were less than 300,000. So getting even a tiny sliver of these trucks to run on electrons would give electric vehicles a massive boost.
But at nearly $40,000 for the base model and more than $90,000 for one that’s fully loaded, the truck is still far from the mass-market electric vehicle that’s needed to shrink the climate impacts of the auto industry and push gasoline and diesel off the road.
President Biden has made electric vehicles one of the tentpoles of his strategy to limit climate change. Cars and light trucks produce 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, which is the largest source of carbon dioxide in the US. The White House’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal carves out $174 billion for electric vehicle subsidies,…