Big EV Trucks Are Still Big Trucks

We shouldn’t be surprised by the electron guzzlers

As the price of gas crept over $6 a gallon in California, I expected to see fewer large pickups barreling down the highway at 80-plus miles per hour. Surely the easy-to-understand economics of the situation would dissuade people from driving like a bat out of hell. Anecdotally, it didn't. 

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV.


This brings us to the expected hand-wringing about the efficiency of the Hummer EV. A vehicle that, since its introduction, has been the source of rightful hand-wringing. Yes, it's an electric vehicle, but it's also not all that efficient. It's heavy, uses quite a lot of electricity to travel anywhere, and it's enormous. In other words, it's a Hummer. 

This all came to a head this past week when the nonprofit organization American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published research showing that the Hummer EV produced more CO2 than the Chevy Malibu. The piece came up with the Hummer's emissions number using a national electrical grid average, which means it could be far less in some areas of the country and far more in others. 

Not Surprising

The inefficiency of the Hummer EV has been discussed (again) since its unveiling. The fact that it emits more CO2 than a vehicle with an EPA-rated combined 32 miles per gallon isn’t ideal, but it’s also far better than reintroducing the Hummer as a gas-powered vehicle. That’s not to excuse GM for putting out something enormous for the sake of enormity. GM built the Hummer EV because people would buy it. 

In fact, the automaker is slowly working its way through 70,000 pre-orders for the gigantic pickup. 

Not Alone

While the Hummer is the target, it’s not alone as an inefficient EV. All EV trucks are rolling around with huge batteries in order to appease the range demands of customers. The Ford F-150 Lightning can travel up to 320 miles on a single charge with an extended-range battery, but that pack is a huge 131-kWh. 

The electric GMC Hummer.


The Rivian’s max-pack, which offers over 400 miles of range, comes in at a whopping 180-kWh. While Tesla and Lucid boast about how efficient their vehicles are, that’s not what’s happening in the EV truck world.

The Customers

This brings us back to the folks driving their gas-powered lifted pickups like they’re transporting hearts to nearby hospitals. Not all truck owners feel the need for speed. Many just need a utility vehicle to get a job done—whether it’s their actual employment or something that needs to be done around the house. Truck people love their trucks the way convertible people love convertibles.

Moving someone from a gas truck to an EV is a huge deal. It’s not the equivalent of moving them over to, say, an EV sedan, mostly because they’re not going to buy that vehicle. You have to give the people what they want. And they want trucks.

Not So Fast

That doesn't let the Hummer EV and its owners off the hook. If you really want an inefficient vehicle, maybe you don't get the tax incentives of, say, someone buying a Hyundai Ioniq 5. The current federal incentives are based on battery size, which might've been a good idea a decade ago, but now, efficiency should be the deciding factor. 

We have a gas-guzzler tax, and it's time to consider electron guzzlers. Again, right now, as we move to electric vehicles, we should be reducing the incentives for highly inefficient vehicles, not making them more expensive. I feel like a broken record, but an EV F-150 on the road is better than a gas-powered F-150. No matter how you move the number around, that's just a given.

Front view of the electric GMC Hummer.



Speaking of the Ford F-Series truck, it’s been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 40 years. A lot of those sales are to fleets, contractors, landscapers, etc. There are so many pickups on the road taking care of business that they almost become invisible, but their environmental impact isn’t. If we could half that in the next 10 years, that would be a huge achievement. 

The work these people need to do to make a living is done with a smaller impact on our environment. Trucks mean jobs for so many customers. You might covet a pickup because of your love of pickups, but for many, it’s a livelihood. And while not as efficient as a small EV, putting an electric powertrain in a truck is a game-changer.

The Whole System

We sometimes put our entire clean future on the conversion to EVs. The Hummer EV is an easy target because it's ridiculously large and inefficient as an EV. It makes for fun headlines, and it's easy for the average reader to understand. Articles about the grid, though? Not so much. They can be dense and with few options for the average consumer. 

For many, there is one option for power coming to their homes, and they have no choice in the matter. We can't shop around for a better utility company. If we're lucky, we can add solar panels and batteries to our home, but it's expensive and takes years to make that money back on electric costs. There's no easy consumer call-to-action when talking about the grid like there is with EVs.  

The thrust of the Hummer EV research piece was its CO2 emissions based on the average energy production of the US grid. It's important to remember that two things can be true. The Hummer EV and EV trucks, in general, are not as efficient as smaller EVs, but also, the grid needs to evolve as well. 

Oh, and to the people with the giant trucks: slow down. Have you not seen the price of gas?

Want to know more about EVs? We have a whole section dedicated to electric vehicles!

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