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Amplifying the Next Phase of Fleet Electrification: The Pickup

Cal Silcox | September 30, 2021

The pickup truck has long been the workhorse of American fleets. In 2020 there were an estimated 4.2 million trucks operated by businesses or governments with 15 or more vehicles – 2.3 times the number of cars in similar fleets, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Fleets – with their regular daily mileage, return-to-base operations, and laser focus on operational costs – are a prime candidate for vehicle electrification.

Utilities’ existing relationships with local governments and large business customers make them well positioned to support fleet electrification efforts.

The nascent electric pickup era now opens the door to a massive new market for utility and other transportation electrification programs to finally grab these low-hanging fruit.

Automotive start-up Rivian appears poised to be the first to the consumer truck market with its R1T truck due to begin deliveries this month. Ford’s F-150 Lightning – the all electric version of the most popular vehicle in America – is set to hit lots next spring, followed by the General Motors’ electric Hummer and Chevy Silverado, the quirky Tesla Cybertruck, and more through 2024.

While few fleets are likely to shell out $80,000 for the reincarnated Hummer, TRC’s analysis for one client fleet shows that even a $70,000 EV can compete on cost with a comparable gas-hybrid vehicle priced at $40,000 – at least in California where upfront and ongoing incentives stack up quickly.

After significant federal and local purchase incentives, fuel and maintenance savings, and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit values are factored in, the cost per mile of the luxury-branded electric Rivian is just three cents, or about 7% more over the vehicle’s 10-year life, compared to a Toyota Highlander hybrid.

And fleets – particularly municipal fleets that rely on half-ton pickups for their versatility – are eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Interviews with more than a dozen city and county fleet and sustainability managers, conducted on behalf of a midwestern utility, found that availability of EVs that meet their fleet’s needs (more simply put: trucks) was the primary barrier to greater fleet electrification and participation in the utility’s EV infrastructure programs. The municipalities interviewed showed significant interest in those utility offerings, but most noted it would be a few years before they would start to see availability of the types of vehicles they were looking to procure.

Utilities that have pilots or programs in place today or soon to launch will be best positioned to meet commercial customers’ needs once the electric pickup market starts heating up.

The next concern on fleet managers’ minds? How they’ll get their hands on these high-demand electric trucks in an already tight new car market.

Stay tuned to TRC for additional information on this topic as we continue to explore this emerging market.

Cal Silcox

Cal Silcox specializes in transportation electrification, utility strategy and policy analysis for TRC’s Advanced Energy Practice. He combines experience as a journalist with an eye for data analysis to communicate technical subjects and guide decision-making. He is skilled in navigating complex policy and regulatory environments, with more than half a decade of work in the EV industry. In his previous position as a Product Manager and Expert Analyst at PG&E, Cal developed EV programs and strategy for the California utility, which saw the highest adoption of EVs in the nation. His experience there spans a broad range of initiatives, including customer outreach, program design and regulatory engagement, stakeholder coalition building, state and federal policy analysis, and rate design. His work led to the development of nearly $400 million in utility-funded investment in EV charging infrastructure and pilots, as well as the approval of a first-of-its-kind subscription rate for commercial EV charging. Cal holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in Science, Technology, and Society. Cal can be reached at

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