The New York Times recently published an article with the title, “Just How Good for the Planet Is That Big Electric Pickup Truck?” This comes as no surprise since people have been poking fun at EVs like the massive and expensive GMC Hummer EV, and Tesla's Cybertruck is on the way this year.
When hybrid and electric cars first came to market, they were typically small, polarising, and practical commuters without much in the way of pizzazz or performance. People wanted large electric trucks and three-row SUVs, however. In order for automakers to prove that EVs are just as good (or much better) than petrol cars, larger and more practical models needed to arrive, and with impressive performance.
At any rate, according to an article by Autoblog, The New York Times author Elana Shao admitted that choosing an electric pickup truck over a similar petrol-powered truck will significantly reduce emissions. If people are going to buy large and heavy trucks and luxury SUVs either way, the electric versions are much better for the environment. Shao shared via Autoblog:
“Take the Ford F-150 pickup truck compared with the electric F-150 Lightning. The electric versions are responsible for up to 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions per mile.”
However, the NYT article quickly takes a turn to prove that while large electric vehicles are cleaner and more efficient than large petrol vehicles, they're not as clean or efficient as smaller EVs.
We already knew that EVs were better for the environment than petrol cars. It makes sense that the comparison would hold more weight if you chose similarly sized rivals. Whether it's a petrol car or an EV, a larger one is going to be less efficient and, as a result, not as environmentally friendly.
The NYT article notes that these large electric pickup trucks have large battery packs and use more electricity. This means they have more overall emissions for their life cycle. Meanwhile, small EVs may create lots of emissions during the manufacturing process, but it doesn't take long for them to offset those emissions during their emissions-free time on the road.
The New York Times author goes on to point out that large and heavy vehicles also create a higher safety risk than small cars. Again, this is true, but it's just as true for large petrol cars versus small petrol cars. If people are going to drive family-friendly or work-ready vehicles regardless, EVs are still arguably the better option for so many reasons.
In general, the US has a growing appetite for larger and more extravagant vehicles, which is arguably not the direction we need to be going, and electrifying them shouldn't be an excuse to build more. However, as we switch each style of car, truck, and SUV from petrol to electric, and there are more and more EVs on the road, there is most certainly a reduction in the emissions that are damaging our planet and bad for our health.