Survey Says

Autolist Survey: Consumers prefer Ford, GM electric trucks over ones from Tesla, Rivian

In November, Tesla introduced the Cybertruck.

Photo courtesy of Tesla

Tesla showed off its new Cybertruck ahead of the L.A. Auto Show in November and reaction was mixed (to put it lightly). Consumer sentiment regarding the promise of all-electric trucks from Ford and General Motors has been better received, at least if you use social media as a gauge.

Today, no EVs for sale in the U.S. are trucks, though buyers can put a deposit down on a Cybertruck and a Rivian R1T. An exact timeline for an electric F-150 has yet to be publicly announced. Earlier this year, General Motors announced its electric pickup will go on sale in 2021.

2019 Ford Electric F-150 pickup Ford showed off the capability of an electric truck this year, but it's not the Ford electric truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Which company would customers rather buy their electric truck from? Autolist surveyed roughly 1,100 current car shoppers in late November and early December and asked them for their thoughts on the upcoming trucks from Ford, GM, Tesla, and Rivian.

Assuming they all had similar specs and features, GM was the top choice, garnering 29 percent of the vote. Ford got 27 percent while Rivian had 24 percent and Tesla nabbed 20 percent.

"Frankly, these results are good for all four brands," said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist.com. "It shows that Ford and GM can leverage their considerable -- and existing -- truck followings to boost interest in their EV models. Meanwhile, it shows that Tesla and Rivian could be poised to grab a meaningful share of a crucial new growth segment."

While pickups remain the top-selling vehicle segment in the U.S., there is some indication that an electric pickup would bring new buyers into the segment. Of those surveyed, 50 percent said that they had never owned a truck while 49 percent had. Of those that had never owned a truck before, many considered the Tesla Cybertruck as their top choice with 25.8 percent of the vote. The Rivian R1T (24.8 percent), Ford F-150 Electric (24.7 percent), and GM Electric truck (24.7) followed.

Among those that had owned a truck before, GM was the most popular option with 35 percent of the tally while Ford earned 28 percent, Rivian had 23 percent, and Tesla got 14 percent.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Production of the Volkswagen ID.4 will mark the automaker's first all-electric SUV launch. The ID.4 will have about 310 miles of range, depending on the drive package.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is investing heavily into electric vehicles (EVs), even in the U.S. where the models make up a smidgeon of the sales each year. The company has already begun expanding its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory to build a North American center for the engineering and assembly of EVs.

That doesn't mean that they're just working on cars. They're working on the design of the "things" that go into cars as well. Much of this will happen at the Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga. Breaking ground on the center is set to happen soon with the expectation of it being fully operational by spring 2021.

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant Volkswagen is investing $800 million and adding 1,000 jobs at its Tennessee plant. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The EPC will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

"There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries," said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America. "A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter."

The lab will include pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers and – perhaps the most unique – a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

According to Volkswagen, most automotive labs have MASTs, "but almost none were designed for electric vehicle batteries". EV batteries present their own set of testing challenges because of their size and weight. They typically weight hundreds of pounds each, making them the heaviest component in an EV.

"The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara," said Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development. "We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries."

Volkswagen describes the process:

"To run a MAST at such high frequencies, Volkswagen had to design its own tool rather than using an outside supplier. The supports for the MAST will be buried 12 feet under the lab's floor and buttressed with concrete to help withstand the forces in use. Volkswagen's new lab will be only the second location in the country with a MAST of this size."

Volkswagen is building the lab to LEED standards. "This lab was planned to be as sustainable as possible," said Maluche.

The production version of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV is expected to be revealed soon. It will be produced at the factory. The company recently celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off the line at the plant.

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The Audi E-Tron is being made more affordable.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Longer range, cheaper price. That's the bottom line for the 2021 Audi E-Tron. The all-electric SUV was the first in the E-Tron family to debut and go on sale and the a big step toward the brand's commitment to electrifying 30 percent of its U.S. model lineup by 2025.

Though Audi has revised the model's packages and lowered pricing, it's still pretty much the same SUV. Same fascia, body lines, wheels, brakes, and battery.

About that battery ... Software adjustments have made it so that drivers can now get 222 miles of all-electric range out of the 95 kilowatt-hour battery - an increase of 18 miles. The net energy amount goes up to 86.5 kilowatt-hours, nearly three kilowatt-hours more than the 2019 model.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback Audi sells the E-Tron in two varieties: E-Tron SUV and E-Tron Sportback.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The SUV retains its standard 355 horsepower (it can go up to as much as 402 horsepower with Boost Mode) and can get from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds using Boost Mode.

The all-wheel drive SUV will start at $65,900, an $8,900 dip from the starting MSRP of the 2020 Audi E-Tron. The model trim level lineup tops out at $79,100. A potential federal tax credit for purchasing an Audi E-Tron up to $7,500 may apply. There is a $1,095 destination charge.

The Premium (base) trim level is available with the Convenience Plus Package, which includes the Driver Assistance package and Black exterior trim kit. It comes standard with 20-inch five-spoke wheels; a heated steering wheel; quad-zone climate control; lane departure warning; heated front seats; a power lift gate; Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus; heated, auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors with memory; Homelink; Integrated Toll Module; and comfort pre-conditioning.

The E-Tron Premium Plus grade comes standard with charge ports on both the driver and passenger side of the vehicle. It also gets the Driver Assistance Package; ambient interior lighting; heated and ventilated 12-way power-adjustable front seats; matrix-design LED headlights; 3D Bang & Olufson Sound System; and wireless device charging.

2021 Audi E-Tron Sportback The Audi E-Tron Sportback is more expensive than the traditional E-Tron SUV.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The highest grade E-Tron Prestige adds a head-up display; individual contour front seats with massage functionality; Full Leather package; multi-color LED interior ambient lighting; dual-pane acoustic glass; an air quality system; power door closers; and rear sunshades.

The E-Tron Sportback, a sloped-roof version of the same SUV, has a higher starting price - $69,100. The E-Tron Sportback Premium Plus is $78,000 and the E-Tron Sportback Prestige is $82,300. It has an EPA-estimated range of 218 miles, has a 5.5-second zero to 60 mph time, and delivers up to 402 horsepower with Boost Mode engaged.

The standard features list for each of the E-Tron Sportback's grades is nearly identical to what is offered in the E-Tron SUV.

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