But most battery-powered pickups are being branded more as lifestyle vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Automotive News last month that he conducted zero customer research for the upcoming Cybertruck, opting instead to make a vehicle “we thought was awesome and looks super weird.”

Rivian, a rival that Ford has invested in, will come out with the R1T pickup next year. The truck is marketed toward outdoor lovers, and the company says the interior was inspired by contemporary furniture as well as hiking and outdoor gear.

That gives Ford an opening to make a business case with its longtime work-oriented base.

“It’s a very natural fit and very much in alignment with the company’s past and the way they serve their customers,” Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst with IHS Markit, told Automotive News. “It makes sense for Ford to stick with what they know and what they’re respected for.”

Cost has long been a deterrent to EV ownership, but Ford is attempting to downplay a potentially high sticker price by touting lower lifetime operational costs.

The automaker last week said the F-150 EV will have significantly lower operating costs compared with the gasoline version, in large part from reduced maintenance. In addition to never needing gas or oil, the truck will save companies money by being out of service less often, Ford said.

“The consumer wants this,” said Angela Pritchard Spiteri, COO of Pritchard Family Auto Stores in Iowa and a member of Ford’s commercial vehicle advisory board.

Spiteri said her fleet buyers are becoming more mindful of their environmental footprint and are intrigued by the potential for lower operating costs.

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“It’s different than previous alternative fuel solutions,” she said. “It’s something that’s going to stick.”

Part of that newfound interest revolves around data. Ford has promised the F-150 EV can be continually improved via over-the-air software updates.

In addition, Spiteri said, fleet operators can take advantage of telematics software within the vehicle to unlock more savings.

“That data can be measured, and those measurements can be utilized to truly measure that cost and find driving efficiencies,” she said.



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