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Can a Pickup Save the Planet?

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

Google "Most annoying business buzzwords," and just about every listicle you will see on your results page will bash the phrase "game changer." The term is so widely overused that even the grammar columnist for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette wrote an entire column about it.

Despite the risk of getting busted by the Arkansas grammar police, this simply must said:

The new Ford F-150 Lightning is a game changer

And not a game changer in terms of just pickup truck sales, or even the automotive industry overall. It's bigger than that. It's a game changer for US Industry as a whole, and because of that, for climate change and the planet itself.

But how could a truck save the world? Isn't the automobile industry one of the biggest contributors to global warming?

Generally yes, road transportation is a huge producer of greenhouse gasses, and the auto industry has, historically speaking, generally opposed regulations on vehicle emissions and other environmental pollutants. But all that is changing.

It's true that electric vehicles have been with us for a number of years now and that other vehicle manufacturers sell them. But they don't sell them like Ford sells the F-150. NOTHING sells like Ford's F-Series, which absolutely dominates pickup truck sales. The F-150 has been the single best selling vehicle in the U.S.for years. And it's going to go up from here.

Ford is going to sell huge numbers of these trucks

For all the new technology Ford bundled into the F-150 Lightning, it's surprisingly affordable. Oh, also, it will power your home for a few days if your electricity goes out. For real. So basically, one more set of winter blackouts like last year and every single homeowner in Texas is going to buy an electric F-150 Lightning.

And the new F-150 isn't even primarily targeting passenger vehicle sales, Ford has big plans for fleet sales, and as commercial fleets adopt and invest in electric vehicles, they will spur further electric and hybrid product innovation in medium and heavy trucks as well.

The bigger picture here? We've reached the tipping point. The #1 market share truck is going electric. This is not some fancy Tesla or prissy Prius for the nation's elite, this is an everyman's pickup truck. And therefore, this is the moment historians will point at to say that the United States got serious about climate change.

"The F-150 Lightning represents all that our country can do when we push for progress.” -- Ford CEO Jim Farley

There's no political divide around the F-150; everybody buys them. And so electric vehicles will now be for everyone, and this will alter consumer attitudes about fighting climate change in a critical, if subtle way:

If buying a pickup truck becomes an act of environmental progressivism, everybody is now a climate change warrior.

Partisan divergence on the issue dissolves. No more red vs. blue attitudes on the issue; going forward we are all green. Investment in charging stations becomes something everybody wants, and so at some level everyone now becomes invested in building green infrastructure. Goodbye, gasoline.

This truck is just the beginning

In marketing terms, the consumer psychographic profiles and attitudinal segmentations around climate change will shift. Consumer preferences will evolve, and this will prompt other industries in addition to automotive to follow -- to better meet the changing demands of consumers. This truck is just the beginning.

Who would have thought that the first bargain struck in the actual American "Green New Deal" would be a pickup truck? But here it is, the Ford F150 Lightning. The game changer. The pickup that saves the planet.


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