The pickup truck is the most popular passenger vehicle segment in the United States. Americans, for years, have been resonating with the practicality of the pickup—the high-riding position, ability to wander off the beaten path, and most importantly, the payload and towing capacity. According to data gathered by Car and Driver, the top three vehicles (by sales volume) sold in the U.S. in 2021 were trucks.
Given the popularity, one would assume that trucks are available with multiple powertrain choices. They are, but hybrid options are only a handful. As of July 2022, there are only four hybrid pickup truck options available for purchase in the United States. In this article, we’ll dive deep into those options and what new choices customers will have in the future.
Why so few hybrid pickup truck options?
There are only four hybrid pickup truck options in the U.S. because manufacturers didn’t find a business case in hybrid trucks in the past. Here are the main reasons:
Firstly, hybrid powertrains cost more than ICE-only powertrains. In case of the 2022 Ford F-150, the Powerboost hybrid variant commands a premium of USD 1,900-2,500 depending on the trim. Even though the entire cost difference isn’t attributed to the hybrid engine, ICE models generally start at a much lower price, making them attractive to customers.
While hybrids deliver extra mpg, the fuel savings cost may not offset the additional purchase price, at least for the first few years, which can also be off-putting for buyers. Moreover, a hybrid will contain a battery, which may need replacement during ownership. If the battery warranty period is over, it might cost customers a hefty price to get it replaced—a problem second or third owners may face.
Electric trucks on their way
Another reason for limited hybrid truck options is the transition towards pure EVs. There are already more electric pickup trucks in the pipeline than hybrid trucks on sale. With increased climate consciousness, sky-rocketing fuel costs, and more awareness about the benefits of EVs, carmakers are betting big on pure electric trucks. This segment will be flooded with around 15 options by mid-decade, which may affect the growth of the hybrid truck market.
Hybrid trucks may not have been popular so far, but carmakers and consumers seem to embrace different electrification forms in the journey towards carbon neutrality.
Ford F-150 Hybrid
The Ford F-150 hybrid pickup truck was released early in 2021 in the U.S. It appears visually identical to the regular F-150, and the difference is under the hood, where the truck comes with the 3.5-liter Powerboost full hybrid V6 engine. The engine is mated to a 46.5 hp electric motor which draws energy from a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. The peak output of this hybrid system is 430 hp and 570 lb-ft.
The combined fuel efficiency of this engine is 25 mpg (EPA), which is far better than the fuel efficiency of all other powertrains available on the F-150. Moreover, Ford’s Pro Power Onboard exportable energy is standard on the F-150 Hybrid. A 2.4 kW system with up to four 120 V/20 A sockets is standard, while customers can choose a more powerful 7.2 kW system with six outlets.
Additionally, the customers can tow up to 12,700 lbs and haul up to 2000 lbs of cargo while benefiting from the efficient, strong hybrid powertrain. The hybrid options start from the King Ranch variant onwards and are not available on the base XL, XLT, and Lariat variants. As a result, the truck comes loaded with a range of premium features as standard.
The standard package includes remote tailgate release, power-adjustable front seats, trailer brake controller, wireless charging, Bang & Olufsen sound with eight speakers, a subwoofer, and Ford’s latest Sync 4 software integrated into the 12-inch central touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, among other features.
The 2022 F-150 is among the models offering the highest customer satisfaction in some regions of the U.S., as per a Consumer Reports Annual Owner Satisfaction survey. Consumer Reports members’ high satisfaction scores put this model among the best options in the Northeast and Midwest regions of America. The availability of the fuel-sipping hybrid system undoubtedly has to do with this.
The base 2022 F-150 Hybrid XL SuperCrew costs USD 44,065 (excl. USD 1,795 destination charges). The hybrid powertrain commands a USD 4,495 premium over the gas-powered base 2022 F-150 XL Super Crew.
2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid
The Ford Maverick is the most affordable hybrid pickup truck in the United States. It’s excellent value for money and has been among the most popular models of 2022 so far. According to the iSeeCars study, the Maverick is among the top 10 fastest-selling vehicles in the U.S. in 2022. The hybrid truck has been sold out, and reports suggest that Ford won’t accept new orders before summer 2022.
The hybrid powertrain comprises a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine that works in tandem with a liquid-cooled 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery under the rear seats and a 128 hp (98 kW) electric motor. The combined power is 191 hp, while the torque output from the engine is 155 lb-ft. Ford hasn’t released the combined torque output, but the electric motor produces 173 lb-ft, so expect the combined output to be well over 200 lb-ft.
The Maverick Hybrid is in a league of its own when it comes to fuel efficiency. Its powertrain returns a combined figure of 37 mpg. However, towing capacity isn’t comparable to its elder sibling, the Ford F-150 Hybrid. The Maverick is a light-duty hybrid pickup truck given its 2000-pound towing and 1500 lbs payload capacity. However, the optional 2-liter non-hybrid EcoBoost engine with the Tow Package doubles the capacity to 4,000 lbs.
Additionally, the Maverick’s popularity also stems from its practicality. It gets a 54-inch Flexbed that allows compartmentalizing storage in various ways. Moreover, it also gets power sockets in the bed and the cabin for external appliances. Other standard features include LED headlamps, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, FordPass Connect with Wi-Fi connectivity, and wireless charging.
The 2022 Ford Maverick hybrid pickup truck price starts at USD 20,995 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges) for the base XL variant. XLT starts at USD 23,360 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges), while Lariat is priced at USD 26,860 (excl. USD 1,495 destination charges).
2022 Ram 1500 eTorque
In 2019, Ram introduced the eTorque mild hybrid technology for the Ram 1500 truck. While this is not a strong hybrid where the truck can be propelled exclusively by electric power, Ram says the mild-hybrid technology helps boost efficiency. Interestingly, the eTorque system is offered on both the V6 and V8 engine options.
The eTorque combines a belt-driven motor generator with a 48-volt battery to enable three essential fuel-saving functions: engine start/stop, torque assist, and brake energy regeneration. The system can add 90 lb-ft on the 305 hp 3.6L V6 engine and 130 lb-ft to the 395 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8. However, don’t expect any significant fuel savings from the latter—V8-powered vehicles aren’t bought, keeping fuel costs in mind.
Moreover, the truck can be had with RWD and 4WD drivetrains. The V8 has a towing and payload capacity of roughly 8000 lbs and 1600 lbs. The V6 has a towing and payload capacity of around 5000 lbs and 1500 lbs. The capacities vary marginally for 4×2 and 4×4 variants. The figures mentioned here are round-offs.
Consumer Guide Automotive says that the 2022 Ram 1500 is the best buy in its class, thanks to an unmatched ride and handling as well as stylish interior, good fuel economy ratings, and offers a high level of refinement. However, it does point out one negative, that the high-end configurations of this model are pricey.
In the United States, the base 2022 Ram 1500 with the 3.6L V6 eTorque engine is priced at USD 36,500 (excl. USD 1,795 destination charges), while the base 2022 Ram 1500 with the 5.7L V8 eTorque engine is priced at USD 39,295 (excl. USD 1,795 destination charges).
2022 Toyota Tundra Hybrid
The Toyota Tundra is the third strong hybrid pickup truck on our list. The truck comes in seven variants: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition, TRD Pro, and Capstone. Only the top four variants get the iForce Max 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain. The base variants get a non-hybrid engine.
The Tundra hybrid’s powertrain packs some serious punch. The peak output is 437 hp and 583 lb-ft. The electric motor produces 48 hp and 184 lb-ft on its own and draws power from a 288-volt NMC battery with a 1.87 kWh capacity. The power gets sent to all wheels through a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The truck is extremely capable off-road. All variants of the Toyota Tundra get a 2-speed transfer case with high and low range, an automated limited-slip differential (LSD), and an e-locking rear differential. The maximum towing capacity is 11,175 lbs, and the payload capacity is 1600 lbs. Combined fuel efficiency is 20 mpg, according to Toyota.
The hybrid powertrain makes the truck heavy. The TRD Pro tips scale at 13,260 lbs (curb weight), 1000 lbs more than the base non-hybrid variant. The 2022 Toyota Tundra Hybrid starts at USD 53,000 (excl. USD 1,695 delivery, processing, and handling fee).
Ram 1500 Range Extender (Upcoming)
While the Ram 1500 electric version is in the works, parent company Stellantis has stated that an alternative powertrain is also in the pipeline, likely to be a range-extender hybrid. The hybrid pickup truck would target customers who are not yet ready to buy electric vehicles, and range anxiety is a major concern.
A series hybrid or a range-extender is a technology where the internal combustion engine is used to power a generator that juices up the battery. The engine performs this function at the most efficient rpm. The battery then supplies power to the traction motor, which is powering the wheels.
This means the engine is used only to charge the battery and not to power the wheels—that function is performed by the electric motor only. Hence, the range-extenders are a halfway house—like strong hybrids and PHEVs—between gas-powered engines and pure electric powertrains.
Stellantis have hinted previously that the Ram range-extender will not come with compromises when it comes to towing and payload. Moreover, the range-extender will presumably be more efficient than Ram’s eTorque-powered mild hybrid trucks.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Hybrid (Upcoming)
According to an Autocar report dated February 2021, electrification is in the pipeline for the Santa Cruz, Hyundai’s chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke told the British publication. The Santa Cruz is Hyundai’s light-duty pick-up truck with a relatively affordable starting price (USD 24,440).
The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid, an affordable hybrid pickup truck, has garnered great interest among buyers, and it’s already sold out. Hyundai may look at launching a rival to the Ford model by electrifying the Santa Cruz.
It’s not like the Korean carmaker is new to hybrid powertrains. In the United States, the brand offers strong hybrid versions of the Tucson, Santa Fe, Sonata, Elantra, and the Ioniq. The Tucson Hybrid gets a 1.6-liter engine mated to an e-motor and a 1.49 kWh battery. The system adds 59 hp and 195 lb-ft to the overall output.
The Tucson also gets a PHEV version with a 13.8 kWh battery and 33 miles of electric range. While Hyundai has not given a timeline for the Santa Cruz Hybrid, it may consider using its existing resources for the pickup and re-engineering the model to make it more emissions-friendly.
Jeep Gladiator 4xe (Upcoming)
Jim Morrison, Senior Vice President and Head, Jeep (North America), has indicated that there is a plan to launch a Jeep Gladiator 4xe plug-in hybrid electric model. He talked about future products in a conversation with Motor Authority outside the New York International Auto Show in April 2022. Below is what he said:
Well, we have said it (electrification) will come with all our vehicles. Yep, By 2025.Jim Morrison, Senior Vice President and Head, Jeep (North America) in April 2022
The Jeep Gladiator 4xe could carry the same powertrain as the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe. The current Jeep PHEVs club a 2.0L gas engine with two electric motors that get their juice from a 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This combination produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission and a 4WD system direct the engine’s power to the wheels. A pure electric drive mode is available, in which the vehicle can travel for an EPA-est. distance of 21 miles.
Ford Maverick plug-in hybrid
A Ford Maverick plug-in hybrid could join the hybrid model in a couple of years. In June 2022, Motor1 posted spy shots of an unusual Maverick prototype that seemed to have modifications for a plug-in hybrid system. It had a junction box reading “PHE-V” and “2.1L” attached to its rear door, which hinted that Ford is developing a 2.1-liter plug-in hybrid powertrain for the lifestyle truck.
The junction box had “1,790” as the vehicle’s “Base Weight.” That could mean that the prototype was 3,946 lbs. instead of 3,713 lbs. (1,684 kg) like the hybrid model. The significantly higher weight is another sign that we were looking at a PHEV, as they usually have a heavier battery pack and hardware than HEVs.
Featured Image Source: Ford