Electric truck owner left feeling like a turkey on Thanksgiving

Ain't easy going green. Electric pickups offer plenty of tire-shredding torque so long as you remember to charge them up especially when it's cold out.
Ain't easy going green. Electric pickups offer plenty of tire-shredding torque so long as you remember to charge them up especially when it's cold out.
Tom Quimby

As you sit recovering from a Thanksgiving feast and some grey Thursday shopping, you turn on the TV to watch — finally — some football. Only, it’s not there. It’s soccer instead. Flicking through other channels reveals the same thing: soccer, soccer, soccer.

Dumbfounded, you text a friend to see what’s going on. The response is chilling; unbelievable. A small group of folks at California’s Outlandish Ubiquitous Giant Heap, or COUGH, have decided to ban football. No other state had a voice in the matter and an executive order from the White House extended the ban across the country. Game injuries, emissions from tailgate barbecues and those crazy guys painted in team colors were deemed too reckless and dangerous so the sport was cancelled.

"But soccer fans are freaking nuts," you think as your daughter gently shakes your shoulder, waking you up from that crazy nightmare.

“Dad, dad. The door buster sale,” she says. “Come on, let’s go.”

You shake off that turkey-induced slumber, grab your cell phone, key fob and follow your daughter to the garage.

“You remembered to plug in the truck, right Dad?” she asks as she reaches for the door.

You grit your teeth as thoughts of 50% off big screens, smartphones and memory cards fade from view and are replaced by bundles of half-off socks and some not so kind thoughts of the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

"This is your fault," you think as you follow your daughter into the cold garage toward your new electric pickup. "I should have gotten a hybrid. But no, CARB and work says it’s better for the planet to get an EV. Don’t want to pollute the air or bring another hurricane to Aunt Macy in Florida."

“Dad! You forgot to plug in the truck. We won’t make it,” she says.

“No worries sweetie. We had 50 miles of range showing. We’ll make it and just plug in at one of the mall chargers,” you say in your best confident dad voice, which is slightly off thanks to that nightmare COUGH and their football-hating agenda.

[Related: Winter battery management key to better EV range, charge times]

You sit inside the cold truck and push the start button. What happens next recalls that Tweet you saw from the EV owner in Minnesota: “Freezing weather can zap up to 40% of your range per the DOE, so keep your EV inside the garage and plugged in overnight to keep the battery warm. And, charging cold batteries takes longer. Be prepared!" 

Well, you think, at least the truck was inside the garage where it dropped down to the high 30s, so maybe there’s a chance.

“Dad, it says 40 miles of range left. Not 50,” your math-loving daughter says, snapping you back into visions of writing scornful emails to CARB board members – all 16 of them.

“Hey, we’ll make it sweetheart,” you say, finally accepting that you’ll have to stand by your powertrain choice for now – even on nights like this. “We’ll just have to keep the heater off but that’s okay, right? I mean, come on. Santa doesn’t exactly have a heater in his sleigh, right?”

She goes silent for a moment and then steps up with a reassuring, “Yeah Dad. Let’s go.”

As you open the garage door, you see bright headlights coming and hear the unmistakable sound of a 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel.

“It’s Uncle Chuck!” your daughter says as a 1997 Ford F-350 dually pulls into view. She races out to meet him and her cousin in the driveway.

You walk out too, wondering why he’s shown up so early. He wasn’t due for another couple of hours for the game.

After giving your daughter a big hug he walks over and quietly says out of earshot, “I heard you might need a ride.”

You cock your head. “Sharon?” Is it possible that the same wife who reminds you about trash day and the kids’ games noticed this morning that the truck was not plugged in? Shoot, you still needed to show her how to charge the thing.

Chuck nods. “Yeah, she saw that ‘ol sparky there wasn’t plugged in. Listen, no worries. I’m happy to help. Plus, I’ve got some shopping to do too.”

You look back at your new pickup, it’s black gloss paint gleaming under the fluorescent lights.

“Yeah, I’ve got to get used to plugging this in at nights. I still need to download the app. It’s got reminders and will tell you where you can find chargers,” you say.

Chuck looks the truck over. “I’ve heard these things got a bunch of torque and will beat most anything on the road,” he says.

You smile. “Yeah, that’s true. It’s pretty amazing.”

“Well, you’ll have to show me,” he says with a grin.

“I was planning on doing that after the game,” you say as you walk over to plug in the truck.

“Isn’t that something,” Chuck says as you reach for the cord wrapped around the wall charger. “Is it cheaper to run than your old truck?”

You quickly nod. “Oh yeah, and it’ll save about 40% in maintenance costs. That’s another reason why work is starting to get them.”

Chuck nods. “Yeah, if you can make it work for what you need, that’s fine. Go for it. But it’s going to be a while before EVs can beat trucks like mine with towing, payload and range.”

You nod in agreement. “That’s true but that day will come. It’s all about the battery. You remember when we were kids, all they used to sell were zinc and alkaline batteries for walkie-talkies and stuff. Now look at how many choices we’ve got. It won’t be long before we’ve got even better batteries for EVs.”

Chuck shakes his head and flashes a grin. “I guess maybe one day, but today, you’re riding in a diesel.”

You take your hand off the plug that’s now inserted into the truck’s outlet and walk his way while wagging your finger. “That’s true, and later you’ll be riding in the fastest pickup you’ve ever seen.”

“Okay, we’ll see what you’ve got,” he says before turning back to his F-350 purring steadily under the moonlight.

Now it wasn’t so much about CARB anymore. It was more about cutting edge technology and appreciating what it can do while being mindful about its limitations. It was like the early days of dial-up as web pages slowly emerged into view. It was like...

“Hey Dad, there’s another electric truck like yours,” your daughter says as Chuck pulls up to a traffic light.

“Sure is,” you say, looking at its unmistakable EV badging. “We’ll be seeing more of those.”

“Yep, we sure will,” she says.