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Electric Vehicles

Australia Is Getting a Sporty Little Plug-in Pickup Truck. America Isn’t.

What gives, Ford?

Christina's World with a Ranger EV.
Heatmap Illustration/Amazon, Ford

Here’s the good news: An automaker is finally — finally! — making a smallish plug-in hybrid pickup truck. Ford has heard our pleas and is planning to sell a plug-in version of its midsize Ranger pickup next year. The truck should get at least 27 miles of all-electric range and it will start getting delivered in 2025.

The new Ranger will even come with Ford’s “Pro Power Onboard” feature, which will let owners plug in their electric tools or minifridges directly into outlets in the truck bed.

And here’s the bad news: Americans can’t get it. The Ranger PHEV will be sold only in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

That means Americans will have to wait at least another year — until 2026 — for a smaller electric pickup truck to hit the domestic market. That’s when the Rivian R2T, which the company’s CEO, R.J. Scavinge, says will be smaller and more affordable than the company’s current ginormo-offerings, is due to debut.

That the plug-in Ranger isn’t coming to the American market shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, although it remains a disappointment. The pickup trucks on sale in America are generally larger and longer than those sold elsewhere in the world. That’s partially due to the so-called Chicken tax, a decades-old 25% tariff on light trucks that effectively prevents automakers from importing smaller new trucks made abroad. But it’s also that larger vehicles are more profitable for automakers.

These two factors have conspired to — as Dion Lefler, a Kansas newspaper editor put it earlier this year — give the world’s terrorists and guerrilla fighters access to smaller trucks than many Americans have.

“Many’s the time I’ve turned on the nightly news and seen Taliban or ISIS militants tooling around in mini-trucks, mostly Toyotas, with machine guns bolted to the bed ‘Rat Patrol’ style,” Lefler wrote in April. “Every time I see that, I say to myself … ‘There, that’s the truck I want’ — minus the machine gun.”

The disappearance of small trucks has mirrored a general expansion of new cars sold in the United States. Even the modern-day Ranger is nearly two feet longer than the old pick-up-and-go mini-truck version, which Ford discontinued more than a decade ago.

In automakers’ defense, Americans have a better electric pickup selection than the rest of the world — it’s just that none of the options are particularly small. The F-150 Lightning, an all-electric version of Ford’s full-size pickup, is sold exclusively in North America; Americans can also buy the F-150 as a conventional hybrid. The Ford Maverick, which is smaller than the Ranger, also comes as a conventional hybrid — but it doesn’t plug in. Ford has recently increased production of the hybrid Maverick in order to meet demand, according to Mike Levine, a spokesman for the company.

The Rivian R1T and Hummer EV are also fully electric pickup options for Americans, as is the allegedly forthcoming Tesla Cybertruck. But they will be full-size trucks, just like the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, and Ram 1500 REV, which are also due out in the next two years. Beyond that, a few EV makers have promised that their own compact vehicles are on the way. By far the most interesting of these vaporwhips is the Canoo Pickup, which might go on sale next year. Maybe. Here’s hoping the selection improves soon.


Robinson Meyer

Robinson is the founding executive editor of Heatmap. He was previously a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covered climate change, energy, and technology. Read More

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