By on November 3, 2020

While Ford’s F-150 is slated for electrification, Super Duty versions of the F-Series are not. On Monday, the automaker told industry analysts that HD EVs weren’t in the cards — adding that customers can still expect all-electric versions of the Mach-E “Mustang” and Transit van.

“Our goal is to build a profitable electric vehicle portfolio,” John Lawler, Ford chief financial officer, explained during the forum hosted by Dan Levy of Credit Suisse. “To do that, we need to leverage our strengths and the scale that we have. We’re being very strategic about the platforms that we choose.”

This is a good answer, devoid of the false promises the industry is famous for. Ford has no idea if the electric F-Series is going to be a success and engineering something that’s capable of hauling substantially more weight on battery power alone is a tall and costly order. EV technology is also growing by leaps and bounds, making any bold investments into a platform that could be wildly outclassed in a few years a risky play.

Why bother building a non-competitive HD pickup to a customer base that only cares about whether or not it can haul 35,000 pounds for the entire day? The energy density of modern electric cars simply isn’t there, resulting in a hypothetical pickup that could theoretically haul monstrous loads a relatively short distance before needing to recharge. We doubt such a vehicle was even seriously considered by Ford after it crunched the numbers. Prohibitive development costs combined with gaps in battery technology undoubtedly killed the concept before it got off the ground.

According to the Detroit Free Press, any reasonable doubts to the contrary were removed by Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford Americas and International Markets Group. “At the moment, we do not have any plans to go into heavy duty with battery-electric vehicles,” he said.

That will change the second Ford thinks it’s profitable, however. CEO Jim Farley indicated that the automaker was interested in selling EVs to the commercial market, and not just private sales, during Ford’s third-quarter earnings call. If there’s a sudden leap forward in battery tech that can facilitate heavy-duty work without nullifying range and a customer base to sell to, Ford will probably begin development.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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36 Comments on “Ford Says Electric Super Duty Trucks Aren’t Happening...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “That will change the second Ford thinks it’s profitable”

    Yes, it’s always best to follow someone else’s lead. /s

    PS: This attitude shows how expendable their EV program really is. Tentative, me-too steps won’t lead to success.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Not really a company that can afford to do pie in the sky products like an HD EV right now. Developing a big project that is only going to collect dust on the showroom floor is a guaranteed way to end up giving Cerberus Capital another chance at playing the auto manufacturer game.

      I can’t argue their position since they are in the hole so most every project needs bring some rent money in ( I’ve been told the GT isn’t profitable at all so maybe that is the only vanity project they can tolerate ).

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I don’t blame Ford for protecting the golden goose, but they can’t simultaneously claim to have leadership aspirations in EVs.

        Tesla acquired its lead by losing billions for years while it took risks on five sequential production models, with more in the works, multiple production facilities, building out the Supercharger network, and securing their own battery production.

        If the electric F-150 is a turd, they can just blame ‘market conditions’ and ‘customer tastes’, and move on. Ford could certainly do the work it takes to lead, but with divided loyalties they don’t really have the commitment.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m not sure if this is really a “hot take” or not but I don’t believe any automaker outside of Tesla and the other startups really *want* to make EVs and they might even resent the feeling that they are being forced in that direction. I think they would be content to let Tesla have its slice of the market and just keep on with ICE.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    It would take a very, very large battery indeed. You’d need a CDL for sure.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Big mistake. This is going to have Ford lagging the industry at a point when it could be leading. The simple fact that electric motors can put out FAR more torque than a gas or diesel in the same-sized vehicle will have them behind in power and performance compared to any electric truck of similar capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      Torque is multiplied by gear ratios and those are different between typical electric motors and internal combustion engines. And there’s a limit on how much torque is needed and can be handled by various components. Large trucks aren’t really wanting for torque. The unsolved problem, as always, is not the electric motor but the battery.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        When it comes to electric motors, torque is DIVIDED by gear ratios, not multiplied. An electric motor makes its maximum torque at zero (0) rpm, almost the exact opposite of an internal combustion engine.

        • 0 avatar
          Imagefont

          I know how torque multiplication works, thank you. And the peak torque generated by an electric motor is usually NOT zero rpm. It depends entirely on the type of motor. For a typical squirrel cage induction motor peak torque is close to the sync speed. I have quite a few speed torque curves I can send you to prove that. But cars use various types of electric motors. They can be permanent magnet electrically commutated, variable reluctance, or they can indeed be standard 3/ph induction driven by what is essentially a variable frequency drive, which changes the torque curve.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          Right now, a superduty has to derate the engine through tuning in the 1st 3 gears to not just spin the tires and break the driveline. Big trucks aren’t torque limited. Electric motors don’t necessarily put out “more” torque, they put out torque with a different curve. Most of the more interesting electric vehicles have motors that put out 250-300lbs but then they add a number of motors’ output together. Gear ratios work the same no matter what motor it’s put on, they could multiply or divide.

          HDs do have a lot of weight capacity though so a hd hybrid seems very interesting to me.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          No, electric vehicles use gear reduction too, and still put less torque to the wheels than many ICE vehicles.

          Modern HD trucks have more than enough torque already. Given how often they’re used for highway towing, they’d be one of the last places to invest Ford’s limited battery resources.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Electric vehicles are terrible for towing efficiency, something HD trucks do a lot of.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        All you guys trying to refute the fact that electric motors put out their maximum torque at zero (0) rpm need to do some study. I made it quite clear that motor size STILL determines how much torque they put out but it is still at maximum when full power is applied and NOT several hundred to over a thousand rpm later. What limits an EV’s torque at startup is the control system, obviously intended to limit slip, but only for that purpose. Without that anti-slip control, the system would potentially jolt the wheels right out from under the vehicle (and has in some cases.)

        Yes, some of those electric drive systems do use a reduction gear or two–for obvious reasons. An electric motor is usually designed to turn at a far higher rate than an internal combustion engine CAN turn, with some electric motors capable of turning … not a mere 10,000 rpm (the upper limit for performance ICEs) but into the hundreds of thousands of rpms. Take a look at how many different motors are being used in the current crop of battery-powered cars.

        Also, yes: more motors means their torque can be added, along with their comparative horsepower, to where when one axle motor might put out something like 300 hp, two can effectively double that without doubling the energy drain and three can add another 300 horses with an even lower relative energy use. Again, this has been demonstrated by multiple brands. Ford is using seven electric motors in that custom Mustang Mach-E to achieve over 1200hp with only the whine of the gearing being audible inside or outside the vehicle. Tesla is managing similar performance with a mere three motors.

        But the one place where I will not dispute your words is in battery capacity. Each vehicle is going to be limited to how much battery it carries, which will control, more than anything else, how far it can go on a charge. But again, the motors, the control system AND the driver, will be the ultimate measure of range, as no matter how efficient or inefficient the motors themselves and the control system may be, how the vehicle is driven will determine the vehicle’s range. Drive like an idiot, and your range will be far less than somebody driving reasonably. Treating the open highway like a race track will see you getting less range than driving smoothly and steadily. Since this last is true whether you’re driving electric or ICE, don’t expect to see miraculous range if you like to drive at excessive speeds or with jack-rabbit starts and constant heavy braking. In exactly similar vehicles, I would wager I can get better range out of any vehicle than most who complain BEVs can’t do what they so clearly can.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          in re: your last paragraph, Towing is going to be a much bigger factor than your driving habits. And since this is an article about HD trucks, I’ve got to assume that range while towing is the presumptive biggest factor

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mr Icky: Range while towing is roughly halved, no matter if it’s battery or ICE. The difference, up to now, has more to do with the size fuel tank available than it does the amount of power available. Only reason most HD pickups have so much range is that they’re carrying upwards of 45 gallons in two separate tanks and typically tow at 10-12mpg (Diesel a little better but also a lot more expensive to refuel.)

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            Well, kind of. The real difference is that there is a gas station at least every 100miles and it takes 10 minutes to fuel.

            I tow regularly btw. I had a 2005 cummins 3500 until just last year and I also have a 2007 gas megacab. The 10-12 is fair enough on the flat at 70 or less – however when you’re climbing with a load on a long grade you can get all the way down to the 3 or 4 mpg range on the diesel.

            A nominal 350 mile range on an EV would only safely be around 100 towing in states with mountains- maybe less.

            Mine had a Titan 67g fuel tank btw so mine was the best case comparison- I would regularly go from Boise Id to the Pacific Coast or to Yellowstone on a single tank with fuel to spare. I’d consider a HD hybrid, but there is no current scenario where an HD pickup would really work except local contractor and even then it would be extremely limiting.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @ Mr Icky:

            • “The real difference is that there is a gas station at least every 100miles and it takes 10 minutes to fuel.”
            — And Tesla has a Supercharger location approximately every 100 miles as well. Moreover, Electrify America and others have placed other high speed chargers across the country (and adding more) in many of the same areas as Tesla so you don’t even need to worry that much about so-called ‘Range Anxiety.’

            • “A nominal 350 mile range on an EV would only safely be around 100 towing in states with mountains- maybe less.”
            — True… for one of Tesla’s cars. But you forget that Tesla and the others, like Lordstown and Rivian, are claiming over 500 miles of range, which means an average of 250 miles when towing–not all that different from a gas or diesel pickup.

            I won’t argue your claim about having a 67gallon fuel tank. But that also means that at 10mpg you’re getting over 600 miles while towing and well over 1000 miles unladen. Most dual-tank pickups have some combination of either a relatively large single tank (up to about 30 gallons), twin smaller tanks (my F-150LB had twin 16s for a total of 32 gallons) or maybe a smaller and a larger tank, like a 16 plus a 30 for about 46 gallon capacity. Of which I’m aware, very few carry as much as your specific one carried unless they are special-ordered from the factory that way or carries an aftermarket modification. I also remember seeing advertisements for in-bed range-extender tanks supposedly designed as support for towing a fifth-wheel trailer (temporary use only, if I recall.) I’m not saying it can’t be done, only that such extreme range as described is uncommon and usually not a factory installation.

            That said, the electric has an advantage on towing in the matter of strong, smooth acceleration to get up to highway speed in less time (making it much safer at highway entrance ramps) and holds speed on a grade more easily than either gas or diesel, even with the benefit of turbocharging. Moreover, unlike the ICE, going down a grade allows the truck to recover some of the energy used, so that the total range loss crossing mountains is a fraction of that lost with an ICE. One driver related crossing the Rockies as losing only the equivalent of 11 miles compared to driving on the flat. Can you make that claim?

            And remember, electric also doesn’t lose horsepower as you climb higher; the available energy is the same at 10,000 feet as it is at sea level.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            — And Tesla has a Supercharger location approximately every 100 miles as well. Moreover, Electrify America and others have placed other high speed chargers across the country (and adding more) in many of the same areas as Tesla so you don’t even need to worry that much about so-called ‘Range Anxiety.’

            This isn’t accurate in much of the country. “They” (Tesla and others) talk about this- but it really isn’t what I see at least not out west.

            And lets talk about the configuration of the charger stations- I want you to imagine trying to use a charger station with a trailer. Picture that in your mind for a moment – maybe 1 out of 10 is curbside and most are lane adjacent so to use one you’ll have to a) find a spot large enough to disconnect b) disconnect your trailer c) drive over to the charger and charge and go kill however much time is necessary d) reconnect.

            Also, a 500 mile range would really translate to about ~175. If you were going over the Cascades or the Rockies, that 500 mile range would be less than 150. I’d like to know who the driver you’re quoting is. Check out tfl’s videos on attempting to tow with a tesla.

            Maybe someday, but not now, and certainly not within 5 or so years for practical towing.

            I understand you’ve jumped on the bandwagon, good for you. But

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mr Icky: I don’t own a Tesla… Yet.

            I do own a pickup truck.

            I’ve been studying BEV technology to a greater or lesser extent for almost 20 years and can see its potential. I also have seen what Tesla and VWG are doing and can again, see the potential.

            You’re essentially saying a BEV truck can’t do what it has already done.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            What a goofy thing to use as a counter. Is it *possible* for a consumer level electric truck to work in the role of a superduty truck- yes. Is it practical? Not yet.

            You are horribly optimistic about the state of electric charging across the country. I’ve read your comments about your pickup truck before in other articles- the way you use a truck and the way I use a truck are different.

            I also think that because things are a certain way where you are, that they are that way across the country. This is incorrect. You can go 70-100 miles out west without a regular gas station in UT, ID, NV, Western WA and OR, NM, CO, AZ and NM. Plug ins are substatially more rare, and you see lines at the plug ins. Its fine in metro areas, but it’s a skeleton outside of that.

            Here’s what I think, the electric vehicle market is pretty close to “mature enough” in 2 areas. Large commercial carriers who have the resources to create their own infrastructure, and light duty commuters. Light duty trucks that may tow occassionally and filling up the battery is part of the adventure fits into that too.

            If you’re somewhere inbetween it’s not ready yet. If you’re towing you’ll have to stop at EVERY charger to make sure you can get to the next one. You will spend about 1/2 an hour at every charging station for every 2 you drive.

            Here’s a Tesla X in action with only a 2k# (half it’s rating) trailer that’s relatively low. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjklex38lkQ&t=1494s. Here’s edmunds- 99miles and 4k elevation is a “nailbiter” in an x. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpExnUKxH7g.

            Now your retort will be that a superduty is going to have more capacity, but EVERYTHING is going to scale up- the trailer will be bigger, the drag will be worse. You’d basically need 500k range to pull a 2500# trailer.

            So whatever, it’s been a fun discussion. In 2025 I will revisit this conversation with an open mind.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mr Icky: If you’ve been following my conversations for any length of time, then you will know I’ve already refuted the first youTube video you linked; they went out of their way to make the Tesla X look bad, not only by following the worst possible towing habits but also by performing some of the most dangerous ones–such as maximum acceleration with that loaded trailer, which if it had been an RV trailer would have thrown nearly everything onto the floor and who knows what other damage they could have caused. They also chose, when they did pick a camping trailer, one of the worst possible choices with literally no aerodynamics and purposely designed for off-road camping, built to be towed behind a Jeep-like vehicle, not a modern CUV. It also weighed far more than a mere 2K.

            I give the second video you offer far more credence; the reviewer gave good information and drove responsibly. But where I acknowledge he called it “nail biting”, he did so BEFORE the run, not after. The car did achieve the climb and arrived at the next Supercharger with more than 10% charge remaining. Yes, he did reduce his speed… by 2mph… and gave a very legitimate reason as to why, pointing out the aerodynamic drag of a trailer and how going fast increases the total load on the motors.

            BUT… Note that even that second video is now 3 years old and there are significantly more Supercharger locations available in the US, with now nearly every mile of the Interstate Highway System covered, including the long-argued gap between central North Dakota into Montana. Moreover, Tesla is enlarging some of its existing locations and adding new ones capable of handling up to 40 vehicles or more AND partnering with several truck stops and convenience stores along well-traveled routes. You cannot assume that just because something was one way, three years ago, that they haven’t changed since then. Much of what you complain about today with BEVs, I complained about nearly 50 years ago with ICEVs, especially out west where at the time, those 50-70 mile gaps for gas stations stood more like 120 to 150 miles apart.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            @Vulpine, it’s pretty pointless to talk about the Tesla supercharger network in a discussion about whether Ford should build a HDBEV, since they wouldn’t be able to use them. It’s like arguing back in the 80s that electronic companies should build more Betamax players because there were so many Blockbuster stores.

            Which brings up the obvious question: given their huge advantage in building EVs and their large charging network, why doesn’t Tesla build a HD truck? If they are economically feasible, they could blow Ford out of the water with those advantages . Why doesn’t Rivian build a HD truck in addition to a half ton equivalent? The Cybertruck and the Rivian are not HD competitors, you aren’t going to see many of them at horse shows or pulling big boats and trailers, because they’re half ton trucks, and they’d be at the upper limit of their rating instead of the bottom end of the HD class. I’ve pulled a 26 ft boat and a two horse trailer with a 150 and 250, and there is no comparison. A HD truck is a much bigger and heavier vehicle than a light duty, and is going to need a much bigger and heavier (and more expensive) battery that will take even more time to recharge, even if a high speed charger is available. With the current state of battery technology, price, and fast charging infrastructure, a HDBEV doesn’t make much sense, and won’t until those issues are addressed.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Mr Icky: “it’s pretty pointless to talk about the Tesla supercharger network in a discussion about whether Ford should build a HDBEV, since they wouldn’t be able to use them.”

            — Obviously you didn’t read my statement thoroughly; I only used the Tesla Supercharger network as an example; Electrify America is attempting the same thing and while nowhere near as extensive as the Supercharger network as yet, can already cover most of Tesla’s routes acceptably, even if not quite as closely… yet.

            Your specific argument to which I was responding, however, singled out Tesla, whereupon the response used Tesla as the example.

            Oh, and look at the specs on the Cybertruck in particular. By its expected performance characteristics, it will be ⅝-ton truck, almost exactly splitting the difference between a half-ton and a ¾-ton. I expect a larger truck from Tesla that is not a semi- will probably be a medium-class (Classes 4 through 6.)

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            @Vulpine, perhaps you should make sure who you are responding to.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @285exp: (In a once well-known ‘muskrat’ voice) It’s possi-bull, it’s possi-bull. ;)

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    How large and heavy would a battery need be for my F350 Super
    Duty to tow my 16k lb trailer from Brown County State Park in Indiana back to my home in Western Ohio 156 miles away (the trip I just made a few hours ago)? That’s a combined weight of right around 22,000 lbs at an average speed of a tick above 60mph. For me, I don’t think battery electric is ready for me or even close to being ready. No range anxiety – I still have about a half tank of fuel remaining after the trip…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It would need to be a smaller version of the Tesla Semi.

      It can be done, but whether such hauling with electric propulsion is practical is another question. Tesla has pre-orders for the Semi that says it is, but that may only be true for long-term commercial ownership, rather than private.

  • avatar
    285exp

    This isn’t simply a matter of not wanting to lead, it’s a matter of battery technology and price. It doesn’t matter how great the torque and efficiency is, HD trucks have to be able to haul big loads, and that means a big, heavy, and expensive battery with long recharge times, even if you can find a place on the road to plug it up. Until energy density increases and price and recharge times decrease, EV HD trucks don’t make sense, no matter how much you want them to.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Ford needs to dedicate one brand to the electric vehicles, sort of like what GM is doing with Cadillac. Maybe they can bring back Mercury. If it flops, just send it back to the dustbin of history. If it takes off, then pat yourself on the back for having such foresight and daring.
    Heck, start with an electric Ranchero or Ranger pickup. Price it affordably, put the maximum possible battery in it, and watch them fly off the showroom floor.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    We’re talking about an approx 5,000 lbs battery (the Tesla 3 has a 1,000+ lbs battery) for a net gain of about 4,000. This in a class limited to 14,000 lbs.

    The EV crew/4X4/Dually F-350 would weigh very close to that limit with the driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @DM: Boy, are you off with that one, dude. The Tesla Model 3’s battery weighs less than 800#, it’s the Model S 100kWh battery that weighs 1,000#. However, those numbers are trending towards lower as newer formulations and manufacturing methods reduce weight, combined with new motors and control systems improve efficiency and power. The newest Model S carries 110kWh in a battery pack no larger than the old 100kWh pack and goes 100 miles farther on a full charge.

      Now, supposedly the Tesla Cybertruck is going to achieve something like 500 miles of range on somewhere between 120-150kWh of battery while also offering a towing capacity in the 11,000# area. Taking everything into consideration, this means the Cybertruck is going to offer more horsepower and torque than the F-150, even if it doesn’t quite rate up to the F-250. But then, there aren’t all that many travel trailers that weigh more than 11,000#, even if there are a few. Once things settle down and their REAL capabilities are known, I expect the 250-series and up pickups are going to be relegated to commercial medium-duty tasks and even then may see the electrics run them out of that market as well, over time.

      Politics aside, I believe the changeover to electric vehicles has reached a tipping point on the Global market which will either force the US OUT of the international market or force them to convert as well, just to reduce costs.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It could easily take another decade for battery (size/weight) tech to meet the demands of Class III trucks, which of course need to be loaded Lariat/Laramie/etc (or greater) crew cab 4X4s to make it worthwhile for their respective automakers.

        Half tons are a different story. They’re used extensively as commuters, family sedans, weekend warriors and local, short run commerce/industry/utilities/etc where a 2,000 lbs battery is all it would take, minus the weight of the ICE.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          There you go again, claiming a highly unrealistic battery weight for the EV truck. Do some research; so far you’re 2 for 2 on the wrong side of the equation.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            There’s no getting around the size and weight of the things. Having enormous batteries is the #1 obstacle in the development of EVs that tow 2, 3, 4X their own weight or more.

            Dollar to Donuts the Tesla semis won’t be used for long haul trucking. It’s simply not a possibility.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @DM: I suggest sitting back and simply wait to see. With at least two versions of the truck in the works, the smaller of the two is obviously meant for regional routes while the larger is obviously meant for hub-to-hub type driving, typical of the major cross-country companies like Roadway, UPS, Hunt, Swift, etc. Where it comes down to independent drivers, you’re probably right but corporate entities could easily recognize the advantages of using electric over diesel, especially on mountainous routes.

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