Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - 4

EDITORIAL

NY, NJ, OH:
Ryan Beckman
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rbeckman@techbriefs.com

Bill Visnic
Editorial Director
Bill.Visnic@sae.org

EDITORIAL
Deflating the 1,000-horsepower hype machine
Great fanfare has been lavished on the
growing field of battery-electric pickup
trucks that is poised to enter the U.S.
market. Everybody and their brother
want in. I'm already losing track of the
new nameplates that claim to be electrictruck " manufacturers " - a title whose
legitimacy can only come from actually
making and selling vehicles. How many of
the new " OEMs " will end up as flashes in
the pan, incinerating their investors' money, is still to be determined.
I'm not optimistic that more than one or
two will survive long enough to compete
with the incumbents, once a robust, highvolume EV market arrives.
Americans love their pickups, but there isn't enough
love to sustain more than a
few of the newcomers in this
hyper-competitive segment.
It's interesting, however,
to watch the online Zoom
debuts and read the
amped-up press releases.
Those jumping into the EVpickup arena are trying to
establish a brand by differentiating with
feature content. One attribute, however, is
shared by nearly all of them: power. Did
someone decree that electric-pickup
credibility must begin at 1,000 hp (746
kW)? Why not 1,500 hp? The herd is
ready to follow, as witnessed by the
" arms race " for payload and towing capability that has boosted heavy-duty pickup
specs into Kenworth territory.
Horsepower is a measurement of the
rate at which work is done. It differs from
torque, which we know also plays a critical
role in vehicle performance, payload and
towing. But it is horsepower that is headlining the hype with electric pickups. The
EV stage has taken its cues from the internal-combustion arena, of course, where
turbocharged 4-cylinder engines comfortably exceed the 300-hp (224-kW) threshold that was formerly V8 domain.
Four-hundred horsepower is the new
200, thanks to advancements in airflow,
ignition control, boosting, valve actuation,

thermal management and materials.
Jaws no longer drop at the mention
of emissions-compliant V8s with SAEcertified power ratings of over 700 hp
(522 kW). Such numbers are typical of
11-liter heavy diesels engineered to pull
80,000-lb (36,000 kg) loads across
Iowa. Most pickups do little more than
household errands or tow the ski boat
up to the lake. And for such moderate
duty cycles, 1,000 electrified ponies
might be a bit overkill, don't you think?
A longstanding beef of mine: When
electronic engine management and fuel
injection began to revive ICE performance in the late 1980s,
after a 15-year doldrum,
the industry failed to hail
their invigorated powertrains for what they are:
an important safety feature
that is directly modulated
by the right foot.
Every driver who has
relied on acceleration to
escape injury or death will
attest to its safety attribute. But OEM legal departments will
never permit Horsepower to be listed
among the Safety Features on any newvehicle window sticker.
Mashing the right-pedal rheostat in a
1,000-hp electric pickup might feel like
being fired out of a cannon. A gleeful
thought, but four-digit horsepower is
not the key to mainstreaming electric
pickup trucks. Smaller, lighter, lower-cost
batteries, traction motors, inverters and
cooling systems are. They make for
smaller, lighter, lower-cost propulsion
systems that are ideally engineered for
smaller, lighter, lower-cost vehicles.
Rather than another arms race, these
should be the industry's focus.
The first OEM to successfully sell an
affordable, pragmatically-powered electric midsize pickup - no, an electric
compact pickup - will have cracked the
code for EVs of all sizes, period. Which
OEM will that be?
Lindsay Brooke, Editor-in-Chief

Four-digit
horsepower is
not the key to
mainstreaming
electric pickup
trucks - or EVs in
general.

4 April 2021

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AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING



Automotive Engineering - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Automotive Engineering - April 2021

Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - CVR4
Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - CVR1
Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - CVR2
Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - 1
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Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - CVR3
Automotive Engineering - April 2021 - CVR4
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