Vinfast not discouraged by US e-pickup market challenges

The Vietnamese challenger is looking to enter a crowded segment yet to prove its demand credentials

Vinfast not discouraged by US e-pickup market challenges
The Vietnamese automaker showcase its new concept in Las Vegas

The US electric pickup market continues to attract new entrants like moths to a flame, despite underwhelming sales from products that have already launched and data that suggests a minority of pickup buyers have any desire to go electric.

Vietnam’s Vinfast is the latest to conclude that, because Americans buy a lot of trucks, they will in future buy a lot of e-trucks.  At CES in Last Vegas, it unveiled its VF Wild mid-size e-pickup concept.

"We are very proud to introduce the VF Wild concept, which encapsulates our mission to make sustainable, high-quality electric vehicles accessible to a broader market. This is not just a new product in our offering — it showcases our aspiration to venture into the fast-paced and thriving electric pickup truck market," says Tran Mai Hoa, deputy CEO of sales and marketing at Vinfast Global.

And it is aiming to tackle genuine truck use cases, emphasising its product’s flexible bed size. A power-folding mid-gate will allow the VF’s Wild bed length to expand from 5ft to 8ft with the rear seats folding down automatically, equipping the vehicle with the largest bed in its segment.  

But, while it will target a “new generation of consumers looking for innovation and eco-friendliness without compromising on performance and durability”, serious questions remain about the size of such a market. Data from market research firm Autopacific in December found that only a fraction of current ICE pickup drivers are considering the switch to electric, and that ICE and e-pickup customers are “vastly different groups”.

Compounding the risk that the US e-pickup customer pool will prove far shallower than initially expected, automakers have already piled products into the segment, with more on the way. All three of the traditional ‘Detroit Three’ powerhouses have products out there or launching this year.

Ford has its F-150 Lightning — which sold only just over 24,000 units in the US in 2023, or c.2,000/month on average, but Ford hails as the country's best-selling e-pickup, which speaks to current levels of demand. And it is already talking up an e-pickup in its yet to be unveiled second generation model line-up.

GM has the Hummer EV, with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra EV Denali also at various stages of their journey to market. Stellantis will also be joining the party later in the year with the Jeep Ram 1500 BEV.

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Among other legacy OEMs, Germany’s VW is reviving the Scout brand is to try to target the BEV segments of the US pickup and SUV markets, while Japan’s Toyota displayed its latest EPU e-truck concept at the Japan Mobility Show in October.

EV pure plays have also got involved, with Rivian’s R1T and Tesla’s Cybertruck already available. Start-ups such as Fisker, Alpha and Canoo are also hopeful of bring e-pickups to market.

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