The recently revealed F-150 Lightning is Ford’s first all-electric truck, but it won’t be the company’s last.
Although Ford hasn’t officially announced any new electric pickups yet, it has given every indication that it’s working on a battery-powered version of the mid-size Ranger or its new compact truck, the Maverick. Or both.
During an event in May, Ford announced two new platforms it’ll use for a slew of electric vehicles it’s planning to unleash over the next several years. One will underpin future utility vehicles and full-size pickups, presumably including the next-generation F-150 Lightning around the middle of the decade.
The other will form the basis for a huge variety of all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive models, including commercial vans, off-road SUVs, family haulers, and “mid-sized trucks,” Ford COO Hau Thai-Tang said.
Unless Ford plans to shake up its pickup lineup with a brand-new electric model – which would go against its strategy to “electrify our icons” – that probably means an electron-powered Ranger of some sort is on the way.
That truck could be called the Ranger Splash, judging by a trademark application Ford filed earlier this month first spotted by the auto site CarBuzz. Ford sold a sporty pickup called the Ranger Splash in the mid-1990s, and it applied this month to use the “Splash” name on “Motor vehicles, namely, automobiles, pick-up trucks, electric vehicles, sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, and their structural parts.”
While that’s not exactly a smoking gun, the theory isn’t so far-fetched given that Ford lifted the Lightning moniker from a high-performance F-150 it sold in the 1990s. Still, Ford could be looking to trademark “Splash” for something else entirely, like an options package.
An electric take on the Maverick – Ford’s small pickup due out this fall – could also be just over the horizon. In an interview with Insider this month, Ford vice president Jim Baumbick, who led the pickup’s development, said of a Maverick EV that he “would not ever take anything off the table, given where electrification is going.”
And Ford CEO Jim Farley told The New York Times this month that he could see Ford developing a family of Maverick models, including an electric one.
More battery-powered pickups would come as part of the mammoth transition to EVs that Ford plans to undertake in coming years. The company plans for 40% of its sales to come from electric models by 2030, and pickups – a super-popular category that Ford is a leader in – are surely key to that goal.
A Ford spokesperson declined to comment on future products.
Nearly every pickup truck you see rumbling down the road today is a pricey behemoth that’s roughly the size of a small house. But it wasn’t always that way.
Ford is looking to resurrect the small-but-mighty pickups of decades past with the new 2022 Maverick revealed Tuesday. The truck delivers on compact size and an enticing starting price of around $20,000, but Ford is entering uncharted territory – and it’s not a certainty that customers will bite.
“We still need to see if there’s a real market for these kinds of lifestyle pickups,” Augusto Amorim, a senior manager of sales forecasting at the research firm LMC Automotive, told Insider. “It’s so much smaller than what we are used to when you think about a truck. It’ll be interesting to see how customers react.”
While the Maverick isn’t exactly pint-sized, it’s significantly smaller than mid-size pickups like Ford’s Ranger or the more popular Toyota Tacoma. Ford’s thinking here is to target nontraditional, more urban truck buyers with a vehicle that’s easier to maneuver and park than other pickups, but still offers similar functionality. But it’s a gamble, Amorim says, given that it’s an untested segment.
LMC is forecasting that Ford will sell between 40,000 and 50,000 Mavericks per year. That’s peanuts compared with the number of F-Series trucks it moves annually – usually 800,000 or more – but it’s about in line with sales of the Honda Ridgeline, another car-based pickup. It’s about double what LMC is expecting from the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which goes on sale this summer as the Maverick’s only true rival in the compact truck space.
Still, the Maverick could be a home run given its bargain-bin pricing and selling points distinct from other pickups, says Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Cox Automotive.
“Trucks have never been more popular, but what has happened is they’ve gotten bigger and bigger and more expensive,” Krebs said in an interview. “So there’s a huge white space for people who don’t want a truck that big and certainly don’t want to pay that kind of money, but they want a truck.”
The average price paid for a new car has ballooned to above $40,000, and pickup trucks, the second most popular vehicle type after crossovers, are partially to blame for that trend. The average transaction price for an F-150 is in the $50,000 range, while Rangers typically sell for roughly $40,000, Krebs said. A top-trim Maverick Lariat can be had for $25,000 plus destination fees, while a fully-loaded model comes in around $35,000.
Importantly, though, the Maverick isn’t just a shrunk-down F-150 or Ranger, and offers more than just a small size, Krebs says. It’s its own thing, with features uniquely catered to the recreational buyer and the only standard hybrid engine in any US pickup. That powertrain, which Ford says delivers 40 mpg, could be key for attracting a younger, more environmentally conscious, or less affluent crowd that has traditionally been put off by gas-guzzling trucks.
The Maverick’s $19,995 entry price – which makes it Ford’s new entry-level offering and the cheapest pickup truck on the market – was very much a deliberate move, Ford vice president Jim Baumbick told Insider. The automaker hopes that a combination of a low sticker price and high versatility will steal customers away from a host of different segments, including sedans, a market it abandoned in 2018.
Analysts who spoke to Insider agree that the trailblazing truck could snag some unexpected customers. Plus, it wouldn’t be the first time that a novel type of vehicle took off at around this price point. Not too long ago, subcompact crossovers were virtually nonexistent in the US, but now tiny, cheap SUVs like the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V, and Subaru Crosstrek are huge sellers for their respective companies.
“Those vehicles really helped bring a more price-sensitive consumer to the crossover segment, so we can clearly see that happening to trucks,” says LMC’s Amorim.
People ended up loving the increased ride height, visibility, and cargo space that small crossovers provided over sedans, says Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds. A Maverick-sized pickup, with arguably even more functionality than a subcompact crossover, could be a logical next step for those people, he said.
The Maverick could very well spark a deluge of new compact pickups from General Motors and others, especially if it does well.
But competitors will likely find it hard to enter the market with a product as compelling and attractively priced as Ford’s pickup, Drury said. One key advantage Ford has as it rolls out the Maverick is its vast network of commercial and government customers, something Hyundai can’t leverage with the Santa Cruz, Cox Automotive’s Krebs said.
The little pickup’s debut is just the latest sign that Ford and its new CEO Jim Farley are turning things around after years of lackluster profits.
In the last year, Ford launched the electric Mustang Mach-E crossover, Bronco Sport, and a new generation of the F-150. Last month, it showed off its debut battery-powered pickup, the F-150 Lightning, which hits streets next year. And after years in decline, Ford’s share price has shot up more than 70% in 2021 – even outpacing Elon Musk’s Tesla.
The Maverick and those other well-received vehicles may be just what Ford needs to win back some of the customers it’s lost over the years, Drury said.
“By having these products that are perfectly suited for the market, it’s really changing peoples’ opinions of the brand,” he said. “I think for anyone who used to have a Ford and strayed from it, this might bring them back into the fold.”
The stalwart Ford F-150 offers all sorts of interesting features like a collapsible desk in the cab, a fold-down workbench on the tailgate, and mobile-generator capability for running tools.
Its new sibling – the $20,000 Maverick, which was revealed this month – may be substantially cheaper and smaller than the F-150 but has plenty of tricks up its sleeve too. It’s geared more toward casual city dwellers looking for something small, efficient, and functional, while the F-150’s add-ons take aim at customers who need a sturdy work truck.
The pipsqueak pickup’s coolest feature is a highly versatile bed out back dubbed the Flexbed. Here’s what it can do.
DIY racks and more
As its name might suggest, the Flexbed’s main selling point is its flexibility. With an eye on recreational buyers and DIYers, Ford designed the bed to be customizable and adaptable to owners’ needs.
Ford built in a handful of pre-threaded holes for owners to mount whatever they’d like without drilling into the sheet metal. There are also several vertical and horizontal slots designed to snugly fit pieces of dimensional lumber for homemade racks and storage dividers.
By sliding in a couple of boards horizontally, for instance, buyers can create multiple separate storage areas. With a bit more effort and know-how, handy Maverick owners can fashion their own bed-mounted racks for bikes, kayaks, and other gear. Ford also included two tie-downs and four D-rings to help secure cargo.
In the bed, Maverick buyers will find a QR code they can scan to get ideas about how to use their Flexbed.
Electric power, but less than other Ford trucks
While the 2022 Maverick may not be able to power an owner’s house like the electric F-150 Lightning, its Flexbed does sport a household outlet for powering small power tools or tailgating gear.
Behind a panel, Ford included a 12-volt access point where owners can wire in their own extra bed lights or other accessories. People typically need to jerry-rig that sort of thing by stealing power from the taillights.
The Maverick’s bed may only be 4.5 feet long, but that doesn’t mean it can’t haul larger items like full-size sheets of plywood. Dropping the tailgate down extends the bed floor to a more standard six feet, but that’s to be expected from any pickup.
By adjusting support cables on the sides of the tailgate, owners can also set the tailgate to a halfway-open position. That acts as sort of a built-in bed extender and allows owners to haul varying sizes and shapes of cargo more easily. For example, owners can load in up to 18 4×8 sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood by laying them across the half-open tailgate and the rear wheel wells.
Handy storage cubbies
The Maverick doesn’t have any underbed storage, but it does offer up to two small storage cubbies, depending on the trim level chosen. The base XL gets none, the XLT gets one, and the top-of-the-line Lariat has two.
The available storage cubbies aren’t anything massive, but they do seem helpful for things you might want to keep at hand but don’t want bouncing around in the bed, like a bike pump or bungee cords.
Low walls for easy access
A versatile pickup bed isn’t worth much if people can’t access it easily. Ford says it determined the truck’s ride height and designed its bed walls so “almost any size adult can reach over and grab items off the floor.” It also says it developed the bed with the fifth percentile female in mind.
Pickups have grown so large that even tall people sometimes need a step ladder to reach into the bed, so this thinking from Ford is nice to see.
Ford made a splash last month when it unveiled the F-150 Lightning, its first electric pickup. Now it’s set to turn heads again with the reveal of its first brand-new truck model in decades.
After months of rumors and spy shots, Ford confirmed on Thursday that the Maverick – an all-new compact pickup to slot below the mid-size Ranger – will debut on Tuesday at 6 a.m. ET. You can see the new truck then on Ford’s website, its social channels, on Hulu, and on actress Gabrielle Union’s social media accounts.
Although we won’t know anything concrete until next week, we already have some ideas about the Maverick from leaks and Ford’s own teasers. Here’s what we know so far.
Drivetrain and performance
A teaser video Ford released Thursday gave us our best hint yet at what’ll be under the hood of the Maverick.
A “hybrid” badge on the pickup’s tailgate indicates that a hybrid powertrain will at least come as an option and could be standard. Since the Maverick is expected to be manufactured on the same platform as the Bronco Sport crossover, it could also get that model’s top-tier engine – a 250-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder – as an option.
If a hybrid option comes to bear, the Maverick would be the only hybrid Ford truck except for the F-150 PowerBoost, launched in 2020. The Ranger doesn’t currently offer a hybrid version.
Expect towing and payload capacity to be considerably less than that of the Ranger, which can pull 7,500 pounds and carry up to 1,860 pounds in the bed. But the compact Maverick isn’t really for people who need to tow heavy trailers or carry massive amounts of lumber – that’s what Ford’s burlier trucks are for.
Interior, comfort, and features
Judging by the spy photos that have come out so far, the Maverick will come in a four-door configuration and may not offer a two-door option like the F-150 and Ranger. But that makes sense, given that the Maverick will likely target casual buyers who care more about interior space than bed length.
Inside, the Maverick could share an eight-inch touchscreen with the Bronco Sport and will probably come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Like the crossover, the Maverick will likely come standard with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver-assistance package, which includes collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, and automatic high beams.
Extra safety and driver-assistance tech, like Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free driving feature, could come as an option on upper trims.
The Maverick will be more compact than the Ranger, but that’s about all we know about its dimensions so far. The Ranger sits at 211 inches long and around six feet tall. There aren’t any new pickups currently available in the US substantially smaller than that.
That means Ford is tapping into a market for small, car-based pickups that automakers have all but abandoned in recent years, as trucks have ballooned in size and compact models like the Subaru Baja were killed off. The Maverick’s closest rival may be the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which was announced in April and goes on sale this summer.
Pricing and trims
When it comes to MSRP, the Maverick will surely run you less than the Ranger, which starts at just over $25,000 for a two-door model or around $27,500 for the SuperCrew four-seater. Ford told dealers last year that a sub-$20,000 pickup was on the way, according to Automotive News.
If Ford is indeed able to bring the Maverick’s retail price below 20 grand, the new compact truck would become the company’s most budget-friendly offering, undercutting the $20,395 EcoSport crossover. It’s set to go on sale in fall 2021, Ford says.
Expect a handful of trim levels, including the XLT model shown in Ford’s first teaser photos of the truck. Judging by the trims offered for the F-150 and Ranger, there will likely be a more basic XL model along with at least one more premium version. Pricing could fall in the $30,000-$40,000 range for a fully-loaded Maverick.