Fully-Autonomous Electric Ford Pickup Truck on the Way? Probably Not
In the past couple of weeks, two stories out of Dearborn have made news. One, there will be a hybrid Ford pickup truck by 2020. Two, Google is partnering with Ford on a fully-autonomous vehicle. Does that mean that the days of trucks that you actually drive and that can do real work are over?
Autonomous vehicles utilize a crapload of sensors and computers to make sure that the vehicle stays on the road and doesn’t hit things. Today, that technology is limited to street driving. While the systems have come a long way, it is still in its infancy and there are still some concerns.
Trucks see a lot of work that doesn’t involve being on a road with clearly marked roadsigns and edge lines. Job sites have dirt, mud, and more that’ll get clogged up in those sensors and render any autonomous driving virtually useless.
There are GPS-assisted, fully-off-road vehicles out there now, but they are designed for certain tasks. A pickup truck isn’t a mission-specific vehicle; it’s tasked to do a lot of different things.
As for the electrification process, the hybrid version that Ford is supposedly working on is just a 2-wheel drive work truck. As you know, fully-electric vehicles’ performance suffers when the weather gets cold. And lots of people use lots of trucks in places where it gets properly cold.
So while Ford is definitely moving ahead and looking towards the future, their bread and butter is pickup trucks and I don’t expect those to be going anywhere for awhile.
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