Reading time: 7 minutes
Who is the market for eTrucks? I’m a truck fan and have been for decades. I got won over by a little red Ford Ranger I bought when I moved to Colorado. My Canadian friends think my F150 shows my American roots. That may be true, but I find trucks super practical. Yes, even for a city dweller. (Is it just me or are Canadian parking spots extremely small?) I must be the target demographic for eTrucks – I’m itching to trade in my gas guzzler for a clean-yet-ultimately practical battery-powered replacement.
I fell in love with the Rivian R1T when I got first-hand access to it during its debut at the AutoMobility LA show, a conference that Third Law is proud to have helped organize. I’d love to get one (spouse notwithstanding). But I’ve also been watching with keen interest as new eTrucks keep coming on the market.
Ford had a massive reveal last month for the F150 Lightning. That made it feel like high time to do our own comparison of eTrucks. We focused on five different makes and models: the Tesla Cybertruck, the Rivian R1T, the Ford F150 Lightning, the GMC Hummer, and the Bollinger B2. As you would expect, some shine in some areas while others excel in others. Check out our infographic for an at-a-glance look at what we found and then read on for more details.
Note that there are other eTrucks announced that we don’t cover – like the Canoo and the Lordstown Endurance. The models in our lineup were chosen because they have imminent production releases and are primarily marketed to consumers rather than commercial customers.
If you’re considering eTrucks at all, you have to be able to afford them. The F150 and Cybertruck have the most affordable configurations that hover around $39,900; both are single motor vehicles. A single motor eTruck equates to a cheaper price, but also less speed, less torque, less towing capacity, and somewhat unintuitively less range – if only because they’re usually packaged with the smaller battery packs.
In addition, the F150 Lightning offers the best price point for a well-equipped model that is strongly competitive to gas models. In fact, the F150 Lightning will be the first electric vehicle that’s cheaper than its ICE equivalent – and that becomes even more of a bargain with any government incentives in place. This is a watershed moment for the EV industry, and will no doubt help accelerate EV sales and ensure the Lightning’s place in history.
The R1T price point sits above these two, but still comfortably priced for a loaded model truck. When it comes to the Hummer and the B2, be prepared to empty that piggy bank.
Range anxiety remains a concern for the public, but the Cybertruck crushes the competition (and pretty much any other EV) in range estimates with its max battery Tri Motor configuration. Without a payload, you’ll likely get a half day out of this bad boy before you need to think about finding a charging station. And of course, the Tesla network is a big one with more than 2,500 Supercharger Stations throughout North America and growing every day.
Note that all these vehicles have nice round number range estimates for good reason: they need to be taken with a large grain of salt. Real-life use will decrease range, especially for battery-chewing activities like towing trailers, using heaters in cold climates, or running power tools or camping equipment off the many outlets all of these vehicles provide.
Size and weight
Rivian wins for the most likely to fit into a parking space (especially around my neighborhood) while the Hummer lives up to its armor-plated legacy, weighing in at 4.5 tons and a massive footprint.
All these eTrucks can give the best terrain-tackling vehicles on the market a run for their money. With individual electrically driven wheels they automatically gain AWD. Each one has off-road specific modes that can increase your control of torque so you’re not just digging holes with the tires. They also sport underbody plating to protect the undercarriage and batteries. All except the F150 have electronically controlled suspensions, allowing you to hug the highway for better battery efficiency as well as jack up the struts for clearing rocks and fording streams.
For the absolute best vehicle able to handle off-road conditions, it looks like a tie between the Hummer and R1T. Both vehicles have great stats, although honorable mention must go to the Cybertruck. It may not win in overall off-road stats, but with an unpainted space-age metal exterior you’re not terrified of scratching the hell out of your premium price-tag vehicle. But I wouldn’t hesitate to take any of these beauties off-road.
Towing and payload
In terms of towing and payload, Tesla is in the lead, followed closely by Rivian and Ford. What’s missing from all stats provided by the OEMs are how badly towing decimates their range – expect half the range or worse for a full load. Notably, Bollinger put enough capacity into their payload so their resulting GVWR would qualify as a class 3 truck, which allows them to avoid airbags or crash test safety ratings. Hmmm.
Of course, we can’t have an eTruck discussion without taking ADAS and self-driving into account. Most of these new trucks (except the B2) will have an autonomous capability option between SAE L2 and L3. Whether it’s an optional or standard feature differs by OEM, as well as how the system determines when it should disengage if the driver isn’t paying attention. We’ve not yet gotten to full self-driving, so the driver-facing cameras to detect driver inattention (as used by the R1T, F150, and Hummer) are a safer option than the Cybertruck’s steering wheel contact as a way to gauge driver attention. That’s especially true given how many Tesla owners are posting “full self-driving” videos that highlight potentially unsafe scenarios.
Here’s the granddaddy question of them all – how much stuff can you carry if your neighbor needs help moving, you need a few cubic yards of mulch, or you need to pick up a load of supplies from CostCo?
The B2 has the biggest bed space although it’s all uncovered. Cybertruck’s triangular bed walls enclose a similarly sized volume (albeit slightly smaller), but it can be protected with the power tonneau and the ability to climate control that space. Pretty cool if you’re lugging groceries around for the community BBQ.
The F150 wins the fight for biggest frunk space – the protected storage that’s probably ultimately the most practical. You’ll never have to put that extra camping gear in the back seat ever again.
Both the R1T and Cybertruck have additional creative options for extra protected storage. Rivian’s gear tunnel underneath the passenger seats looks great for storing long things like a kitchen tent, snowboard, or hockey sticks, and the door conveniently doubles as a step to access the bed. Both eTrucks also have under-bed storage for tools or ice and beer for tailgating parties – and Rivian’s is large enough for a spare tire. Cybertruck’s “sail pillar” storage is the futuristic equivalent to the non-electrical Dodge RamBox. That makes a handy spot to put tools and jumper cables for helping your friends restart their puny gasoline-powered rides.
Trucks once met rough rides and spartan interiors. Thankfully this is no longer the case – at least for some of our models.
The Hummer and R1T strongly compete for the nicest plush and well-designed interior, While the F150 is no slouch even in the base XLT model, you might need the Lariat or Platinum to upgrade to a primo ride that has features competitive with the Hummer and R1T. Prices haven’t been announced for those upgraded Lightning trim levels, but expect they’ll be close to (or even more) than the Rivian.
The B2 purposefully rocks a minimalistic old-Jeep vibe. Buyers will know (and one would assume appreciate) what they’re getting into: manual crank windows with the trade-off that the doors, roofs, windows, and windshield are all removable. Sporting just a windshield, the B2 might make the ultimate professional surfer vehicle.
The Cybertruck has a naked yet clunky looking interior that – in the prototypes at least – looks like it was a high-school shop teacher’s senior class project. Let’s hope they give it a little bit of the classy stylings the other Tesla models sport.
Best unique features
Every one of these eTrucks has notable features the others don’t. The OEMs are all in a race to reimagine a truck’s form, function, utility, and fun and, no matter what, the consumer wins.
Here are a few of the coolest brand-specific features that caught my eye.
Cybertruck built-in tailgate ramp
The Cybertruck has a lot of unique utility features, but in my mind the absolute best must be the tailgate ramp. I have always wanted an instantly available hideaway ramp like this to handle anything from bikes to wheelbarrows.
R1T camp kitchen
Rivian too has a huge number of well-thought-out features like the gear tunnel and door-stored flashlights. But my favorite option is the camp kitchen for the gear tunnel: gourmet outdoor RV dinners with super-simple setup.
F150 hitch scale
Lots of pretty sweet electronics in the F150 although I am always curious to know the weight of my trailer when it’s packed to the gills. Is my trailer overweight, should I rebalance, will it sway? With the truck reporting the weight of the load on the hitch, there’s now no need to second guess it. (I am also secure enough to admit that the trailer backup assist is a very close second.)
It doesn’t matter that I don’t do rock-crawling. Seeing an HD surround view all around my truck (including the ground) would be seriously amazing – from the campground to the supermarket parking lot.
B2 full vehicle pass-through
Trucks are clearly good for moving building materials, but the B2 takes it seriously. Fold-down seats and bed/frunk passthroughs allow straight-line storage that’s the length of the entire vehicle, making carrying 12’ molding or 16’ 2x4s super easy. No more open tailgates and red flags for those super-long loads.
After all this eTruck research, I think I’m still leaning toward the Rivian R1T, especially since adventure is my main motivator, but there are definite advantages to every one of them. Check out our infographic and see if you agree.
Are you looking at one of these eTrucks – or one we haven’t covered? Which one and why? Drop us a comment – we love hearing from you!Download