Ask Nathan: Are We Stuck With EV Pickups from Now On, Tech We Don’t Want, and What its TFLCar’s D-2-D Video Series About?

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Are EV pickups our only choice in the future?
  • There’s plenty of new car tech we don’t like, or want; and automakers know it.
  • TFLcar’s upcoming cross-country D-2-D series?

The first question comes from a viewer who is upset at the idea of having to make sacrifices for EV pickups to catch on.

Q: (Via: Am I going to be forced to get rid of my Eco Diesel 1/2 ton to make room for EV pickups?

Listen Nathan, I have no problem with EV pick ups in general. I appreciate that you guys are showing both the good and bad with these trucks. I think it’s selfish that some journalist out there will only cover one side of the argument. But I’m not happy about the idea of having to get rid of my EcoDiesel in order to satisfy a government mandate. And EV pickups are just too expensive. Maybe pick ups are also too limited by the range. I don’t see this changing in the future.

I am a retired Army veteran who is owned a half dozen pick up over my 60 years of life. The one I currently own, a 2018 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is One of the best pick up trucks I’ve ever owned. It goes well and it gets outstanding feel my age. The idea that I won’t be able to replace this with another one is upsetting. Some enthusiasts say the EV pickups are the answer.

Everybody has seen your video showing how inefficient these vehicles are for long distance towing. I tell a small travel trailer all over the Midwest, and I need good range. I Red ones, that you are a huge fan of hybrid power trains. Getting the best of both worlds makes a lot of sense to me, and I don’t understand why everybody is forgetting them except for Ford.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you guys for making great videos and being honest about your opinions while trying to be unbiased. It’s truly appreciated. I only wish I could be optimistic about the future, and I appreciate your optimism. Keep up the good work!

— Keith T

A: Thanks for the email Keith!

After all the testing we’ve done with EV pickups, I’m not under any illusions that they make good, long distance, tow rigs – yet. I agree with you about hybrid technology too. It’s a real shame that we have to leap from that, as it IS a proven technology, directly to all-electric vehicles. Still, I am optimistic that we will see a few compromises soon.

For instance, we’re pretty sure that the upcoming Ram Revolution EV pickup truck will have an option for a range extender. Granted, I have no idea what type of generator they will use for this range extender, but it could solve many issues. Also, I truly believe that we are about to see serious leaps forward in energy density. Battery tech will improve, rapidly. On top of that, there’s been some exciting advances in expanding and adapting the grid.

Vacationing with EV pickups…

With that being said, I see why truck people are frightened about the government mandates, which are about seven-years off (as of this writing). I calculated how much extra time it would take for me to take my family on a small camping trip, like the one I did about two years ago. That trip had me pulling about 2,500 lbs worth of crappy trailer, and I hauled an estimated 1,000 lbs worth of humans and gear.

That trip was just under 300 miles, and I started with a full tank. In total, I stopped three times for gas, and averaged about 13 miles per gallon (driving a 2009 4.0-liter Nissan Pathfinder). Most importantly, I had kids with me. Bratty, angry little humans who DO NOT like stopping. I estimate that each gas stop took me an average of 15 minutes; some stops included potty breaks. Not adding food stops, or sight-seeing, the total time added to the trip was about 45 minutes. The average total time each way was approximately six-hours.

After our experiences with the F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T and Hummer EV – I’m pretty sure that same trip, with a similar load would be a LOT longer. Hauling isn’t that big of a deal for most of these EV pickups, but towing creates a ton of problems. Dragging even a few thousand pounds of weight costs range. They have more than enough power to tow effortlessly short distance. On my trip of about 300 miles, I am pretty sure it would be necessary to stop six or seven times. Each stop would require about 20 minutes IF – you find a working fast charger with the right output. All in all, I estimate that charging would add about two-hours to the total trip.

If we could cut those times in half, along with less battery degradation, then I would tell you – and other truck lovers, that EV pickups are the answer.

– N

The next two questions ask about tech that has (or should be) deleted from modern cars.

Q: (Two questions Via: Get rid of crappy tech AND Why is Honda going back to Lever PRND selector?

Theses two questions have a similar theme, so I added them to the same section.

Letter #1 “Get rid of the unwanted tech!”

Buttons, switches and dials are what I want and the stupid screen on my Outback sucks! Sometimes the seat heater switch on the screen doesn’t work! I miss the days when a button clicked on and off telling you that it was activated. I see some guys switching all of their buttons to touch screen tech which is terrible!

— Grover

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness

Letter #2 “Why is Honda going back to Lever PRND selector?”

Howdy from up the road in Fort Collins, CO.

For the past generation (or two) there was a simple way to predict which PRND selector (buttons or lever) a Honda vehicle would have:

9MT or 10MT or newer dual-motor Hybrid: Push button. 

Actual CVT: Lever. (buttons were literally not an option because Honda CVTs have a mechanically-actuated parking pawl and mode valve, requiring a lever to operate the required cable)

The new 2023 CR-V Hybrid bucks this trend by using a lever for the Hybrid version…and the same appears true for the 2023 Accord Hybrid based on an official teaser photo (see after email) showing hybrid stuff on the display and lever selector.

Please ask Honda why the change? Was it based on perceived consumer demand/preferences or is there a physical difference where the newer Hybrids now require a cable+lever? 

If there is not an engineering reason (like the cable) and the new lever is all-electrical, is there any chance the electrical connector and mount points are the same as any existing push-button selector which would allow the consumer to buy a push-button selector and install it in place of the lever?

I’m a huge fan of the button selector. It works great in the 2017-2022 NSXs I have driven (and desire to own along with my old-school NSX) and I love the buttons in my 2021 Odyssey. I was planning to buy a 2023 Accord Hybrid…but now that I see the lever I’ll probably snag a 2022 version before they’re gone (enjoyed your review of the 2019 Accord Hybrid). Sad to see Honda moving away from such a simple, sleek, and user-friendly design. I suspect, at least for the Accord, that this also may hint at the end of the V6+10MT as an option.

There is one thing I bet the new lever does not allow, that is now habitual for me: When I park my Odyssey I skip putting it in Park and simply turn it off. The computer puts it in park for me. Unless Honda adds a motor to the lever to physically move it into P…we’ll have to go back to manually putting the car in park like cavemen did back in the day.

Thanks for your time,

— Craig

A: Both great questions!

First, Grover: I know that Subaru is simply following the trend to simplify and streamline their instrumentation – just like a vast majority of automakers out there. In some cases, hard buttons and switches have completely disappeared. Like you, I totally prefer feeling switches and buttons click into place.

Sadly, this is a cost savings approach that many automakers are adopting.

There is some good news, which comes from Volkswagen. Recently, Volkswagen announced that they ditching the capacitive touch buttons, because that’s what their customers want. In other words, they are ditching these pads for real buttons! Huzzah!

Question two “Why is Honda going back to Lever PRND selector?”

Man, I have no freaking idea! I totally missed that detail, but I do have a few theories. My main guess, like the previous question, has to do with Honda responding to consumer demand.

Craig. I am only guessing, right? I didn’t have time to send this question on to my Honda contact; however, I am leaving for SEMA around the time this posts. While I’m there, I will ask around and see what I find. On top of that, I will talk to my friend Honda-Pro Jason, who knows just a LOT more than I do about the automaker’s choices.


– N

The last question comes from my wife (“She-who-must-be-obeyed”) who is curious about our upcoming D-2-D video series.

…. and WHY am I going to be gone for so long?

Q: (Edited for length, sanity and personal safety) What is the video series you and Roman are working on? What does D-2-D even stand for?

What car are you taking and why does it have to be electric? Why are you not booking any hotels for a cross country trip!? How come Roman has to be stuck with you for two days with no escape? Are you breaking any laws?! Have you gotten the “okay” from Roman’s wife?

Is this another one of your silly stunts?

— The wife

An older image of Roman and I during our Motor Mountain USA video series. Wife was NOT pleased about how long this kept me away, calling it a “stunt.” (Image: TFLCar)

A: Darling? Light, of my life – I’m not pulling a “stunt.” D-2-D is actually for charity!

We are setting out to establish a record for cross-country driving in an all-electric car. Like the legendary Cannonball Run, we are going to try to cross the country – rapidly. We chose to run from Anaheim, California to Orlando, Florida. Basically, we will go from Disneyland to Disney World, hence, “D-2-D.” Our goal is to do the trip in less than 48-hours.

We are being sponsored by Hyundai, and will drive their all-electric Ioniq5. Hyundai will match our donation to Hope on Wheels, where we will give the charity one-dollar for every mile we travel. Hyundai will match that donation, dollar-for-dollar.

Along the way, we will have to stop at Electrify America‘s chargers to power up. We will try and make each charge count.

We’re not stopping at any hotels. There’s no time to grab a real meal, or even take a long walk. Each stop has to be as quick as possible, which is one of the reasons we’re using the Ioniq5 and it’s 800 V battery system. It will make for speedy charges.

We will NOT break the law. This trip relies on us being thrifty with power usage to maximize our range. If we go too fast, we will quickly blow through our power. If we go too slow, we’ll never make it to Orlando on time.

Establishing a new record!

We are going to make sure that this record is something that others can challenge. As a matter of fact, a fellow journalists already proclaimed that she will beat whatever record we establish! With this in mind, our starting and ending points will not be on Disney’s property per-se, but close by.

We estimate that we will have to stop 16 – 18 times along the way. Our route is almost entirely Interstate 10, across the southern side of the United States.

— N

Speaking of old 4x4s…