The pickup truck has become a status symbol, thanks to American marketing ingenuity. What started as a bare bones reincarnation of the horse-drawn buckboard has become a sophisticated transportation device swaddled in leather and swimming in a sea of creature comforts that rival the accoutrements usually found in luxury cars and SUVs. With the EV Revolution now taking hold in many countries around the world, it’s no surprise that electric pickup truck models like the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevy Silverado EV, and Ram 1500 EV are coming to market.
But those full size trucks can be difficult for urban drivers to handle. Who hasn’t witnessed the struggle to fit one of these behemoths into a parking space at the mall? All that backing and forthing can be embarrassing and besides, not everyone needs to haul 5 tons of concrete pipe or a horse trailer every day. There is a market for less bulky vehicles with room for a dirt bike or two in the load bed, especially in countries where the roads in urban areas were originally built to accommodate ox carts, not today’s super sized vehicle.
Meet The Radar RD6 Electric Pickup Truck
The United States has exported many of the attributes of an advanced culture to China, among them lung cancer and the blessings of capitalism. Until recently, pickup trucks were relatively rare there and used mostly by farmers to get their agricultural products to market. But the American mania for pickup trucks has begun to spread into Chinese culture just as the demand for SUVs has exploded.
Geely approaches the car business differently than most other automakers. It has a dizzying array of brands — Volvo Cars, Polestar, Zeekr, Geometry, Lynk & Co, Smart, and the London EV Company, among others — and it has just announced another. Its latest brand will be called Radar Auto, which will focus on lifestyle vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks, and ATVs, according to a press release.
The first product from the new brand is the RD6 electric pickup truck, which is scheduled to go into production in the fourth quarter of 2022. Very few details about the truck have been revealed, although the company does say it will have a range of more than 600 kilometers. Make allowances for the NEDC rating system used in China and the stricter EPA rating metrics and the EPA range, if there ever is one, will likely be 250 miles or so.
Although Geely has multiple electric car brands, almost all of them are based on the company’s Sustainable Experience Architecture platform which gives the vehicle an extensive technological foundation that can support single or dual motor configurations. It is being used for the Zeekr 001 which has dual motors and a 100 kWh battery available as well as the latest iteration of the battery-electric Smart which has a single motor and a 66 kWh battery.
Ling Shi Quan, the CEO of Radar Auto, says, “Understanding this new market segment and creating a new brand specifically for these unique users has been the highlight of my career so far. Radar Auto will be purpose-driven from the start and that purpose is to enable users to explore the world in a more sustainable way.”
He told Reuters Recently, “In an optimism estimation, the annual sales of pickup trucks can reach 3 million units in China by 2030 More people are pursing a healthy lifestyle with more outdoor activities while the governments are also restrictions for pickups in relaxing cities. Those changes are supporting the growth of pickup trucks.” The photo the company released showing the RD6 on a beach with stand up paddleboards and camping equipment is a visual representation of the company’s vision for the Radar brand.
Electric says the development of the brand was assisted by automotive designer Peter Horbury from his design studio in the UK. “Radar’s product portfolio focuses on electric pickups and SUVs,” he explains. “This orientation challenges us to combine functionality and user-friendliness with aesthetic form. Our goal is to give radar users the opportunity to broaden their horizons and explore nature in a sustainable way,” Horbury says.
According to Autoblog, Geely is thinking of bringing the Radar RD6 to the United States where it would give American drivers a battery-electric option to the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, and other compact pickup trucks. Since the company has previously said it is considering bringing the Zeekr 001 to America and its Volvo and Polestar products are already on sale in the US, that move would make sense.
It’s possible (this is idle speculation on our part) that Geely could build these vehicles in Sweden to avoid the 25% import tariff on Chinese-made vehicles. Volvo and Polestar have excellent brand recognition in America, so branding them as Volvo or Polestar products would give them instant credibility with US new car shoppers.
Ford Protects Lightning & Thunder Names
CarBuzz spotted a recent application from Ford to trademark the names Ranger Lightning and Maverick Lightning with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. Trademarks don’t always mean products with those names are actually coming to market. Years ago, Ford trademarked “Model E,” much to the consternation of Elon Musk, but no Ford Model E has emerged yet, although the Mustang Mach-E comes close.
Separately, Inside EVs reports that those names have also been reserved in North America, but that Ford has gone a little further by also trademarking the word “Thunder” in connection with its Ranger, Maverick, and F-150 pickup truck models. They speculate the Thunder moniker may be reserved for high performance off-road versions of the company’s upcoming electric pickup trucks. Thunder and Lightning. It’s a marketing manager’s dream come true!
Ford CEO Jim Farley has made no secret of the fact that his company is pushing ahead with plans for more electric pickup trucks after production of the F-150 Lightning gets ramped up. “We’re already pushing dirt down in Blue Oval City in Tennessee for another electric pickup truck that’s different than [the F-150 Lightning],” he said last fall. We also know that Ford and Volkswagen are collaborating on a battery-powered version of the Amarok for sale in markets where compact trucks are popular.
Inside EVs has an interesting graphic that shows the outline of the Maverick, Ranger, F-150, and F-250 stacked on top of each other. It’s not that the Maverick is small, but that F250 is gigantic!
The first rule of marketing is “Give customers what they want.” Today, customers from Beijing to Berlin to Brooklyn want battery-electric SUVs and pickup trucks. Geely and Ford have done their homework. They know what their customers want and are working hard to do just that. Exciting times ahead as the EV Revolution moves forward.
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