Electric pickup trucks: Ford shows prototype F-150 by towing a freight train

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DETROIT — Tesla CEO Elon Musk has made bold claims about the company’s upcoming electric pickup. Now Ford, maker of America’s most popular pickup truck, is already pushing back with a demonstration of what its planned electric F-150 could be capable of doing.

Ford released video of a prototype electric F-150 towing a line of freight train cars weighing, according to Ford, over 1 million pounds. The truck, driven by F-150 chief engineer Linda Zhang, pulled the train for 1,000 feet.

After that was done, Ford added train cars carrying 42 F-150 pickups — one for every year that the Ford F-series has been the bestselling truck in America — and Zhang pulled the train again. With the trucks, the train weight rose to 1.25 million pounds, according to Ford.

Ford pointed out that this was a “one-time short event demonstration,” in which the prototype was “towing far beyond any production truck’s published capacity.” Ford has not yet announced how much the production version of the truck will be capable of towing over long distances during day-to-day use.

Ford did not say what sort of battery power, electric motors or gear ratios the prototype truck was using.

In a podcast interview in June, Elon Musk took direct aim at the Ford F-150, claiming Tesla’s truck would be better than Ford’s in terms of “truck-like functionality,” while offering better driving performance than a Porsche 911. He did not say what currently available version of the F-150 he was referring to. Musk also claimed Tesla’s truck would have a starting price below $50,000, but said its design would be off-putting to many traditional truck customers.

Tesla has not yet unveiled its planned pickup.

In April, Ford announced it was investing $500 million in Rivian, a Michigan based startup that’s planning to manufacture its own electric pickup trucks and off-road oriented SUVs. Amazon has also invested in Rivian.

Ford has not said when it plans to begin production of the fully electric F-150, but a hybrid version of the truck will go on sale next year.

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