Why I’m Almost As Excited As Joe Biden About That New Pickup Truck…

Unlike President Biden, I certainly do not consider myself a “car guy.” No way. I want a car that’s reliable, safe, with air conditioning for the summer and a heater for the winter. That’s it. 

Why, then, am I so excited about the newly introduced Ford-150 pickup truck? 

Because this is a story that combines several happy elements—good old American ingenuity, the importance of immigrants in our nation’s life and future, and real potential advances in both creating good new jobs and enhancing our efforts to protect the earth from climate change.

Here’s a clip of the President behind the wheel of the all-electric Ford-150 “Lightning” pickup truck—after he’d addressed UAW workers one day before the Lightning’s formal introduction. The truck is wrapped to hide its new exterior prior to that public showing.

He said in his speech that if he could “lose the Secret Service,” he hoped to drive the truck. And then he did, marveling at its extraordinary acceleration (0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds).

He didn’t lose the Secret Service, of course: one agent sat next to him, and others followed him as he reveled in the experience. “This sucker’s quick,” he told reporters. 

Apart from his love of cars and trucks, Biden was there because this new vehicle can be a game changer—today’s equivalent of the original Model T, it’s been said—that will help further his agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote American manufacturing, and support unions. 

Electric cars are key to this vision. In fact, his infrastructure plan includes incentives for buying electric vehicles and money to build the necessary electric charging stations (half a million of them) throughout the country.

Ford is the leader, but the company isn’t alone. General Motors has announced its goal to manufacture only electric vehicles by 2035. Its investment is comparable to the $22 billion that Ford has said it will devote to electric vehicles between now and 2025. GM expects to compete with Ford’s Lightning by electrifying its Silverado pickup truck. 

So the days of the combustible engine appear to be nearing an end.

I caught a segment of Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show in which she covered Ford’s development. (She is a car aficionado.) After mentioning the huge companies like Nike and McDonald’s and Visa and all their billions, she segued:

“Do you want to know what`s bigger than any of those, though? This. This truck. I don`t mean like the Ford Motor Company has more revenue than McDonald`s and Visa and Nike, it does, but that`s not what I mean. I mean literally just this truck…

“More Ford F series pickups, they`re full-size pickups,…are sold than any other vehicle in the country and that is true every year, year after year, decade after decade. And it`s never even close.”

This single truck draws $42 billion in sales. According to a 2020 study, it accounts for 500,000 jobs for the Ford company, its dealerships, and parts manufacturers.

Maddow described the video below. In 2019, Ford did a “teaser” about this new all-electric wonder. They put 42 Ford pickup trucks (one for each year that the vehicle had been America’s best-selling pickup truck) alongside 10 double-decker freight train cars.

They then had a driver in the new Ford-150—the all-electric version of this best seller—tow the freight train. 

The driver got out, and she (yes, it was a woman—an Asian-American woman, in fact) told her nearly incredulous crew that there was even more for them to see than the single truck pulling over a million pounds for a distance of 1,000 feet.

At that point, they loaded all 42 trucks into the freight train—and once again the woman driver effortlessly pulled what was now in excess of 1.25 million pounds. She said she could feel the difference, but she still drove her entire route without the truck stalling or blowing up or overheating or anything.

Placing this feat in context, Maddow observed that most truck ads “brag to the high heavens that their full-size pickups can tow 10,000 pounds or 15,000 pounds.”

And the “big reveal,” Maddow said, was that this remarkable achievement was all electric. And it could do what we’d witnessed because it’s all electric.

Not everyone will be sufficiently blown away to purchase one of these trucks because it’s Herculean. But it also has some really cool features—like a built-in generator, which Maddow points out could have come in very handy for Texans when their electrical grid was overwhelmed by an ice storm.

The truck could have been used to provide power to their homes. (Ford says the generator can power a home for three days.)

I won’t go into all the other features, but in each case, they are improvements over the previous model. 

“Mass consumer adoption of a better product, when that product is already outselling everything else in its class by a mile for decades, that`s the kind of change that instantly renders everything else obsolete.”

Maddow introduced us to the driver who led that wild parade: Linda Zhang, Ford’s chief engineer on this project.

Zhang came to the US with her parents, both engineers, when she was 8. She spoke no English, learning the letters A through H on the plane from China. She joined Ford at the age of 19 and earned advanced degrees in electrical and computer engineering while working there. 

I may be belaboring the obvious, but I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am that this potentially huge positive development for our country (and the world) has been guided by an Asian-American woman. A pickup truck! What could be more quintessentially American? 

This story is simply the best balm for the vast majority of Americans who cringe at the anti-immigrant tirades, the attacks on Asian-Americans, the derogation of the role of women in our work force and national life.

Rachel Maddow tends to repeat herself for emphasis, but I think she’s pulled together the importance of Zhang’s project quite well.

“There isn`t a single thing that could be done in this country to move us further and faster toward a no gas automotive future and everything that means for infrastructure and climate and all the rest of it. 

“There`s nothing that could move us further and faster toward that than this one vehicle, this specific vehicle, not only having an electric option but actually being better as an electric vehicle than it is as a gas one. Being more capable as an electric vehicle than it is as a gas one.”

So I join President Biden in cheering on the success of the spanking new Ford Lightning. I think it’s linked to why his programs are registering so well with the public. He’s thinking big, but he’s also staying within the comfort zone of the majority of Americans. Focus on a pickup truck that has wide appeal, but can be made even better, moving us forward, while remaining familiar.

That’s why the Republicans are having so much trouble demonizing him. He’s stretching beyond expectations, but with a shrewd understanding of just how far he can do that. Of course the conspiracy thinkers must have their say: “he’s not really driving the car; a Secret Service agent’s actually in control.” Once again, we’re told we should not believe our eyes. But the President moves on, showing us what good governing looks like, and so should we.

There’s already majority support for Biden’s American Jobs Plan among Democrats and Independents–58% according to one poll. If all Americans were receiving the same news, perhaps his plan would garner more than 19% Republican support.

The plan is far-reaching, but just this part of it–incentivizing the electrification of car and truck manufacturing, and purchasing–is likely to shorten the time toward creating the jobs that will bolster the economy and help us compete in the global marketplace.

This is wise use of the government’s role to help industry for the greater good.

In his efforts to be bipartisan, Biden just reduced the plan’s size to gain Republican support. I can’t see the party that’s vowed not to help him pass any legislation supporting this much-needed program.

The same dark money forces, led by Charles Koch, et al, who are determined to defeat S.1, the For the People Act to protect voting, are not about to allow passage of a bill that bids adieu to their gasoline profits.

I hope if/when the Republicans refuse to accept Biden’s compromise offer, the Democrats will pass the entire bill without them.

It could well do great things for fulfilling his administration’s promises, propelling this country forward in important ways. Not incidentally, it could also ensure his legacy as a transformational President.

And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that Linda Zhang’s name may also enter the history books for changing this country—perhaps even the world—for the better.

What do you think?

Annie

38 thoughts on “Why I’m Almost As Excited As Joe Biden About That New Pickup Truck…

  1. Annie, this is excellent. One thing that should be noted. If American cars and trucks don’t keep up they will get run over by foreign made electric vehicles. GM could have had owned the electric car business for several years, but decided to collect and shred (yes shred) their leased EV-1s they made in the first few years of the century. It was a collusive effort that killed that car. Even the Board members of GM questioned the move, as management said they would make Hummers instead (which did not last long). So, it is great to see American car companies moving forward and Maddow is right. Quoting Biden when Obama signed the ACA – this is a big effing deal, not using the word Biden used. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Keith, for adding that useful recent history. The auto industry is finally casting off its outdated mentality—and not a moment too soon!
      I agree: Biden’s ACA quote is fitting here too!

      Like

    1. Oh, I think we need both, Neil—and Biden’s plans include wind farms and solar. The point is that this is a huge step forward. Biden’s trying to make us surpass China as the world leader in electric car manufacturing.

      We’re in a transitional phase, which I find hopeful. The batteries themselves may involve carbon, but they may not. Here’s an article about how they’re made.
      https://www.greencars.com/post/where-do-electric-car-batteries-come-from

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As for competing with China, the US has a crucial advantage which I think not many people recognize, and Trump especially did not recognize.

        The US is a free society with a democratic government, a place to which people from many other countries, including China, seek to immigrate. That means we get the benefit of talent from all over the world. China is a nightmarish fascist dictatorship where the regime controls and restricts almost every aspect of life. No sane person wants to immigrate there, especially not the kind of talented and capable people who could get accepted into the US or some other democratic country.

        So we will always have people like Linda Zhang coming here to do their work and make their contributions. There will never be any genius Joe Smith emigrating from the US to work in China.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The fact that we are a nation of immigrants has long been our greatest strength; that’s why the anti-immigrant attitude and actions of trump et al have been both incredibly stupid and appalling.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The US has lagged behind places like India, Europe, and the Middle East in the transition to non-fossil-fuel power plants, especially during the Trump “administration”. Now under new management, we’re making an effort to catch up with projects like this. It will take time, but we’ll do it.

      Perhaps the most important point is that non-fossil-fuel energy is now the economically superior option. Like the electric Ford-150 which is actually more powerful than gas-powered equivalents, solar and wind energy is becoming cheaper than fossil-fuel energy. The main reasons for clinging to dirty energy are now ideological, and there’s a limit to how much extra expense people are willing to incur for that.

      Wingnuts, of course, will still be wingnuts. I’ve seen a couple of right-wing blogs claim that the Secret Service agent in the truck with Biden was actually the one driving it, to preserve their “Biden is senile and can’t do anything” delusions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All good points, Infidel. I think Biden is wise to state the reasons for his plans include our need to catch up with other countries, especially China, and then assume a leadership position. That’s good economically and geopolitically, and may also reawaken positive feelings among Americans about what government can accomplish.

        Yes, it didn’t take the “wing nuts” long. (I called them conspiracy thinkers, not wanting to elevate their nonsense to theory. Then I realized “thinkers” is also inappropriate. I’m going to go with “conspiracy purveyors.”) On day one of my Googling, the mainstream articles were all about Biden’s fun ride. On day two, the headlines read “Bizarre conspiracy claims Biden didn’t drive,” etc. I wonder who starts the concatenation of lies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s important that the shift from fossil-fuel power plants to renewable-energy power plants not be looked upon as a competition. Building better electric vehicles can be seen as a competition, in that the country which takes the lead in making them affordable and of good quality will secure an export advantage (but as far as I know neither the US nor China are serious players in that field — the big car exporters are Japan, Germany, and South Korea).

        The issue with power plants is different. That isn’t a matter of competition, it’s simply something that the whole world needs to do for the benefit of the global climate. My point was that the US, especially under Trump, has been failing to make as much contribution to this global effort as it should be, while countries like India and Morocco have been doing more, despite having less capital and technology than we do, and other developed countries have done far more. It’s not that the US is failing to be competitive, it’s that we’re slacking and failing to do our part in a joint effort.

        Like

  2. Reblogged this on silverapplequeen and commented:
    It’s funny, the other day, I was listening to two men talk about how they would “never” drive an electric vehicle. They may not have a choice, if they are still driving in another 10-15 years. This truck sounds fabulous! The whole plan sounds great!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reblogging! I’m always glad when I come across good news stories, and this sure seems like one.

      It is funny that those two men you heard probably decided electric vehicles aren’t “manly” enough—or something. Wish I could hear them after they’d watched the Lightning pull 1.25 million pounds!

      Like

      1. It wouldn’t surprise me if, when cars were first invented, there were some people who insisted they would never drive a non-horse-drawn vehicle, because they just didn’t feel “manly” unless they were leaving horse droppings in the street everywhere they went to “own the libs” or whatever the macho slogan of the time was.

        I suppose thirty years from now there may still be pockets of die-hard Trumpanzee/wingnut types in Idaho or whatever who still insist on driving gas-powered trucks after the rest of the world has moved on. They’ll be regarded as a local curiosity like the Amish.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. That was interesting Annie. I’m in the market for a new car and am debating whether to get a hybrid for now. There are hardly any charging stations here for all electric. The provincial government was offering a generous rebate on electric a few yeas ago to encourage people to buy them, but has since dropped the program.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It was a great discount too, like $7000 I think, but I suppose they were looking for places to save money on the budget, which has now ballooned out of control from COVID anyway. I hate car shopping…..which is why I seldom do it…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As owners were of two fully electric vehicles (Tesla Model 3 -mine- and Audi e-Tron-my wife’s-) I can attest to the greatness of electric vehicles. Not only are they far more efficient than ICE (internal combustion engines)vehicles, they are also very inexpensive to run. While the cost of a battery replacement is high, by the time most of my Tesla will need replacement, the cost will have fallen a great deal. Since I’ve had performance cars before, I can also attest to the fun factor. Motors are a more efficient and considerably quicker.
    On the concerning side there are issues that need addressing (and are in the process of doing so) are the sources of electric power, the need for significant charging stations (Tesla is way ahead), the loss of federal tax revenue that is now collected thru gasoline taxes, and the need for rare earth metals which cannot be created artificially
    (China now controls close to 60% of the world’s supply).
    For years, the petroleum industry killed any attempts to electrify the automotive industry. It took someone like Elon Musk to overcome this opposition. People like him and Steve Jobs are very rare, and while I’ve disagreed with some of their tactics, they should, and will be celebrated historically.
    And now it’s time to take my two dogs for a ride in my fully charged Tesla and find a safe road (no traffic and no police radar) for a 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds ride. My wife, not so much. She doesn’t take these rides with us. 😱😱

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joni, I suspected the cutback might be Covid-related; the impact just keeps manifesting itself.
    No, car-buying is no fun. There are online sources to help you know what’s ahead, however. They can help you be prepared to negotiate.

    Like

  6. As you said, Steve, the issues are being addressed—and though Biden’s success would be a huge leap forward, market forces continue to wise up. Today brought news of a Daimler-Volvo deal to make hydrogen fuel cells for battery-operated long-haul trucks.

    I hope your pups are strapped in when you take them on your 0-60 joy rides.

    Like

  7. Infidel, I have heard Biden make both points, effectively, and I think any way he can motivate Americans to back his plans is worthy. I personally prefer the emphasis on collaboration in solving a mammoth problem, but my thinking is not representative of a great many people.

    Like

  8. Hey Annie, as always, you’ve written another wonderful article. Because I’m a practical person, I’ve been trying to imagine electric vehicles and how that will work in the real world. For instance, when you’re driving long distances and need to stop and re-fuel, how long will it take to recharge that new Ford truck? Also, how much will it cost to recharge compared to gas prices? Also, if they can create electric vehicles that require charging, why not skip that step and just create vehicles that use solar panel-like disks that don’t require refueling or recharging? Then you could potentially drive without having to pay for any kind of fuel/recharging or have to create any kind of recharging stations. Or is this a stupid idea? I never actually hear or read about the practicality of electric vehicles vs. what we have today, and I’d love to hear what those answers to my questions might be. Can you help me out? Mona

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Mona. Thanks for your kind words. Nice to hear from you, and welcome back!

      I’m certainly no expert on any of this, but I’ll try to answer your questions as well as I can.

      This info is from Ford: There are two versions of the new truck—one more powerful than the other. The first, which will retail starting at $39,974, “before tax incentives,” goes 230 miles on an overnight battery charge. A more powerful version starts at $49,974 “before tax incentives,” and can go 300 miles on an overnight charge.

      I don’t have specific comparisons of operating costs, but I know that at this point all-electric vehicles are generally more expensive to buy but less expensive to run.You can see a comment from Steve, who owns electric cars, to that effect.
      Prices will surely drop as the market grows. That’s the rationale for tax incentives.
      As to your query about solar, there are some solar cars today and solar panels on trucks. You can Google them if you’d like more specifics. Apparently, the charging requires some know how to avoid destroying the battery by overcharging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for checking this out and letting me know! Much appreciated, my friend! I’m excited to hear that they are making solar powered vehicles. I’ll definitely check that out! 🙂 Mona

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow. I took a small break from the news and didn’t know about the truck until I read your piece here. And I certainly didn’t know about Linda Zhang. Thanks, Annie. Such an encouraging story . . . enough to make me want to listen again to the news.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great story Annie. It certainly is heartening to see the car companies and other industries taking human-induced global warming seriously–especially while the cynical right-wing continues to deny its existence. And you’re right that the fact that this project was spearheaded by an Asian-American woman is icing on the cake.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m with you on saluting Ford for advancing good people and for developing this truck. But I don’t see a Trump v. Biden story here. Ford didn’t just start developing this truck in January.

    Like

    1. I’m not sure why you see this as a Trump-Biden story—except to the extent that it focuses on climate change and the valuable contributions of a talented Asian immigrant woman. True—all of those issues were demonized by trump. But I was really trying to be forward-looking, JP.

      Like

  12. Annie, I agree that this electric truck is a positive, and that it’s good that we seem to be headed, increasingly, toward all-electric vehicles. To me, a huge problem, yet to be solved, is how long it takes to charge them. “Filling up” is 5 minutes, as with a gasoline-powered car, isn’t close to possible–from what I understand, it takes hours, or overnight, to fully recharge an e-car’s battery. That may be okay for a car to be used just “around town”, but would make a longer car trip much more difficult. For me, that’s the biggest obstacle to me considering buying one.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s