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Ford could build an all-electric F-150 — but don't hold your breath

Cadie Thompson
Ford F150
Ford F150

(A 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck is displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, January 11, 2016.Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Ford could someday roll out an all-electric F-150, but don’t hold your breath.

The automaker announced in January that it will begin offering a hybrid F-150 by 2020. Yet, the company also plans to roll out an all-electric crossover SUV with a range of 300 miles within the same timeframe.

So why is Ford going fully electric with the CUV, but not with its pick-up truck?

For starters, it’s because a heavy battery in an F-150 could actually hurt the truck’s performance, Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technology officer, told Business Insider.

“In a CUV, you aren't too worried about payload or towing, but it’s very different for a truck. And when you put that number of cells and that much weight into the vehicle, it does cut into payload and towing,” Nair told Business Insider.

A hybrid version of the F-150, on the other hand, does not compromise the vehicle’s capabilities, Nair said. In fact, it actually adds value to the vehicle.

"We want electrification to be a bonus" Nair said. "One thing that is really advantageous on the hybrid is it also becomes its own power generating source."

Still, though, Nair said that a fully-electric truck isn’t completely out of the picture.

"I would never rule out anything like that," Nair said. But right now, a hybrid version makes more sense, he added.

It’s worth noting that Tesla plans to reveal an all-electric pick-up truck in 17 to 24 months. However, it’s not clear whether Tesla’s truck will be a full-size pickup truck like the F-150 or a smaller vehicle like a Chevy Colorado.

While a lot of attention has been focused on fully electric cars, Ford sees hybrid vehicles as playing a major role in the transition from gas-powered cars to electrified vehicles, at least in the near term.

In addition to its F-150, Ford also plans to offer a Mustang hybrid, two new hybrid police vehicles, a transit plug-in hybrid van, a hybrid autonomous car, and six more electrified vehicles that have yet to be revealed. By 2020, the company aims to have 40% of its fleet to be electrified.

To accomplish this, the company is investing a total of $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle technology.

"I think hybrids and plug-in hybrids are going to be a big part of this electrification story," Nair said. "Not just your battery electric car."

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