Here’s Why You Will Be Driving an Electric Work Truck in 5 Years

Have you been skeptical about the trend toward electric vehicles? Through innovative designs, truck manufacturers are making a better case for contractors to go green very soon.

Here’s Why You Will Be Driving an Electric Work Truck in 5 Years

 Among many innovations, the Rivian R1T provides a secure storage space at the front of the bed with access from both sides of the truck.

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I suspect a lot of contractors who install septic systems for a living have been skeptical about the idea of electric work trucks. It has been easy to remain a naysayer about all-electric vehicles as the automakers promise but fail to deliver a stout unit that would serve an onsite installer’s needs for a job site truck. 

Why mess with the internal combustion engine, which has provided reliable service for generations? Our gas and diesel pickups and cargo vans provide plenty of torque, the ultimate in fuel flexibility and range to get to and from remote locations. Sure, they require some maintenance and can break down on occasion, but for the most part you’ve happily racked up hundreds of thousands of miles on the job in Chevys, Fords and Ram trucks. 

But something is changing. A corner is quickly being turned. And I now believe you’ll soon be transitioning to EV for most of your fleet vehicles. And you’ll love it! 

Once only of domain of technology dreamer Elon Musk of Tesla and a few other small-scale tinkerers, EV is quickly heading into the mainstream and will benefit from swift development by the companies that have provided your work trucks forever. Most notably, Ford is releasing its Lightning version of the F-150 right now, and Chevrolet will start selling its Silverado EV next year. In total, a dozen manufacturers have electric trucks nearing production. Aside from Ford, Chevy and Tesla (The CyberTruck), there is the GMC Hummer, Rivian R1T, Lordstown Endurance, Atlis XT, Bollinger B2, Canoo Pickup and Alpha Wolf.


And for our small contracting companies, full-electric trucks seem like they will provide a more practical and permanent technology transition than the hybrid vehicles that have emerged over the past 20 years. The hybrids seem more like a compromise or in-between solution on the way to something better. With both battery-driven motors and gasoline engines, hybrid vehicles feel like they offer no advantage as far as maintenance goes, just a few more MPGs. And especially for work vehicles, important features like payload and towing capacity haven’t proven out with hybrid technology.

I don’t think that’s going to be the case for EV work trucks and vans. They will have plenty of pulling power, ample torque and several other features contractors will find attractive when contemplating making the switch to electric. Here are a few of the game changers that will move you away from the gas pump and over to the charging station:

Extending the Range

Electric vehicle technology has been criticized for not offering a practical range for working vehicles. But the numbers are going up steadily. Ford says its extended battery option has a 300-mile range between charges, and that figure is based on a 1,000-pound payload capacity. In everyday use, some observers say the number will be much higher. The Silverado EV promise a top range of 400 miles. Tesla says its CyberTruck will go 500 miles on a charge and Rivian’s truck already on the road will go 314 miles. 

At the same time, the automakers are quickly adding charging stations, which is also being supported by the federal government’s infrastructure program, and fast charging is going to make it easier to quickly add miles needed to extend the range during the day. Ford, for example, says a 10-minute fast charge will add 54 miles and the F-150 will go from 15 to 80% in 41 minutes of charging. Chevy claims to add 100 miles to the range with a 10-minute charge.

Plenty of Power 

EV beats internal combustion engines by offering full torque across the power band. That means you’ll have the maximum power to pull heavy equipment from a dead stop. Chevy promises its work truck, the first EV Silverado release in 2023, will provide 510 hp and 615 ft-lbs of torque, while the RST model will up that to 660 hp and 780 ft-lbs of torque. This will take the truck from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and max towing capacity will reach 20,000 pounds in future work truck models. Ford says the F-150 Lightning will offer either 430 or 560 hp, both with 775 ft-lbs of torque, a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and up to 10,000 pounds of towing capacity in the early models. Tesla’s six-seat CyberTruck with four-wheel drive is touted to go 0-60 in a blistering 2.9 seconds and have a 14,000-pound towing capacity. 

Fewer Repairs/Reduced Downtime

An EV by its nature has far fewer moving parts than an internal combustion vehicle. So breakdowns should be minimal by comparison, keeping your trucks and your crews on the road. And presumably as the battery technology evolves, concern over cost of replacing batteries should go away. Unlike many hybrid vehicles, the new electric trucks are being designed specifically for EV technology and manufacturers should be addressing ease of battery service. Just think about no more oil changes, coolant flushes, belts and hoses to change. Maintenance will not be nearly as routine.

Job Site Power/Backup Power

This is possibly the biggest selling point for electric work trucks for construction-related contractors. These trucks all offer ample 120- and 240-volt outlets so you can run power-hungry tools like saws and air compressors from the truck. This will free you from finding household power or carrying and running a loud, smelly gas generator at a work site. The Rivian R1T takes it a step further, offering a built-in 150 psi air compressor and integrated Bluetooth speaker and high-power flashlight that can be moved around the job site and returned to charge at the end of the workday.

And the Ford and Chevy promise bidirectional power capabilities that will allow you to keep the lights on at the shop during a power outage. Ford Intelligent Backup Power automatically reverses the power feed from the truck to the building and can power a household for up to three days from the large truck batteries.  

Frunk Flexibility

Securing tools on your pickup has always meant compromising bed space with a toolbox of some sort or having to add a service body to the truck, effectively eliminating the truck’s bulk hauling capacity. Without an engine up front, EV trucks convert that space into a “frunk” or front trunk — secure, weather-tight spaces. In the case of the Ford, it’s quite a big space. The frunk can transport tools and materials, and has a removable cover to a lower open area that can be configured several ways as a divider. The frunk also has lighting, several outlets, USB charging ports and a drain hole so you can hose out the area when it gets dirty.

Bonus Features

The first EV trucks offer independent rear suspension and advanced suspension controls, such as self-leveling, onboard scales to adjust range to cargo weight, and the ability to raise the height of the truck for traveling over rough terrain. 

The Chevy offers flexibility to haul bulky loads with a multiflex midgate that opens the bed to the second row of seating and several tailgate positions. This extends the bed to allow 11 feet of cargo space. 

Use of electric motors makes it easier to run power to two wheels or four wheels without costly transmissions to fail. The Rivian truck, for example, can be ordered with motors to each wheel, totaling 800 hp output. 

Ford designed the interior of the Lightning to easily convert to a work office on the road. The shifter folds down and out of the way and the center armrest folds out to provide a large working surface. A wireless phone charger and 120 outlets power any office tools you need on the road.

Fuel Savings and Price of Ownership

No matter how the price of gasoline or diesel changes, electricity is going to be a fraction of the cost, dramatically reducing your fuel budget. Add solar panels to the roof of your shop and you can run the EV at no cost for years to come. 

And the stated price of the EV trucks may surprise you, especially considering how the cost of traditional pickups has risen in recent years. The baseline Ford F-150 will start at $39,900, with the extended battery version starting at $49,900. The Tesla CyberTruck is allegedly going to start at $39,900 for rear-wheel-drive model and $49,900 for all-wheel drive. Most Silverado models will come in at the $50,000 to $80,000 range.   


Aside from the prototype Tesla CyberTruck, which looks like something out of a science fiction film, the Chevy and Ford EVs appear very similar to their gas-powered counterparts. And I think that’s a good thing. Making a leap to electricity is already a big change; it’s comforting that the American manufacturers have decided to keep a truck looking like a truck. If you buy an F-150, for example, most folks won’t be able to tell it from the rest of your pickup fleet when you pass by. 

You might want to go green and send a message that you want to reduce pollution and end your reliance on fossil fuels as much as possible. Or you may not care about that message at all. In the long run, I think any question or debate about going green will become irrelevant. You will choose electric vehicles only if they make good sense for your business. 

As with many decisions made by small-business owners, practicality will win out over all other considerations. Very soon electric work trucks will offer many advantages, including lower operating and maintenance costs and practical on-the-job features for your crew. That’s when you’ll ditch the internal combustion engines we’ve been using for 100 years and embrace the future.  


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