Everyone wants a piece of Tesla’s Cybertruck: After Ford, now Ram to launch EV pickup

July 9, 2021, 2:30 PM UTC

Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck is set to receive fresh competition as Detroit’s carmakers embrace electric vehicles in a bid to win back lost investors and wayward customers.

Elon Musk has reportedly collected refundable deposits from over 1 million customers for his polarizing pickup that will run off assembly lines at his Giga Texas plant as early as this year. For comparison, cumulative production since the company’s founding only cracked the seven digits in March 2020.

Seeking to eat into that potential customer base, former Fiat Chrysler brand Ram revealed on Thursday plans to launch its first battery-powered truck on an all-new dedicated architecture for light duty pickups that traditionally lead U.S. vehicle sales tables. 

With a number of rival carmakers holding electrification strategy days this year, most recently Renault Group and later this month Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, management attempted to convince capital markets Ram’s upcoming entry would be every bit as competitive as the next despite its late arrival.

“In 2024, with full knowledge of what our competitors are doing, we will surpass their offerings with the Ram 1500 battery electric vehicle built to redefine the full-size segment,” chief executive Mike Koval told reporters during a presentation, without explaining how or why.

Courtesy of Stellantis

Claiming a stake in the burgeoning EV truck market is key for Ram. The brand is behind the second bestselling pickup nameplate in the U.S. after the Ford F-Series, according to first-half data from Automotive News.

Ram will rely on new technology under development from parent group Stellantis. That entity, which emerged from French carmaker PSA’s January acquisition of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, aims to invest over €30 billion ($35.6 billion) in electrification and software through 2025.

While auto analysts at investment bank Jefferies wrote on Friday the group’s EV strategy day should “put to rest lingering concerns that Stellantis lagged industry electrification,” they did not share Koval’s optimism, arguing a battery-powered Ram due in 2024 was “more symbolic than an actual market share threat.”

Whereas passenger cars and sport utility vehicles are highly fragmented markets with hundreds of different entries from which to choose, the pickup segment in the U.S. is carved up among a handful of nameplates from American brands—a dominance resulting from a 25% import duty known as the Chicken Tax that is levied on foreign-built models. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is therefore also one of the most lucrative markets, with Detroit long milking the segment for profits.

500-mile range

Following the arrival of the Cybertruck, interest in electric pickups is now heating up, and Tesla’s remarkable bull run last year indicates investors believe in their long-term future. 

In May, Ford showcased its F-150 Lightning, a zero-emission version of America’s overall bestselling model line. Since then, the Detroit carmaker has collected deposits for 100,000 units.

Other hopefuls coming soon include the GMC Hummer EV Pickup from crosstown rival General Motors as well as the R1T from Amazon- and Ford-backed startup Rivian. 

The Ram 1500 electric will be based off the STLA Frame, an electric-only platform expected to accommodate a range of workhorse models needed to tow and haul payloads. 

According to the company, they will be capable of driving up to 500 miles or 800 kilometers on one charge, thanks to batteries as large as 200 kilowatt-hours in size. The cells can be recharged at a rate of up to 150 kilowatts at a direct current fast-charging station, and the vehicle will be equipped with electric motors delivering as much as 330 kW (443 hp) of raw power. 

How its technical specifications will stack up against a 2024 Cybertruck is unclear, as the current version that hits markets in a matter of months will allegedly have a range of 500-plus miles and 14,000-pound towing capacity in its flagship tri-motor version. 

Ram finished its presentation pledging not to stop at just the 1500 model. 

“As the only dedicated truck and van brand, Ram will offer a fully electrified solution in the majority of our segments by 2025 and a full portfolio for all of our segments no later than 2030,” Koval said.

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