Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Co. said it's planning to make electric versions of its popular F-Series pickups, in a bid to keep up with competitors like General Motors and Tesla.
The automaker's F-Series trucks, which include the popular F-150, have been the top-selling American vehicles for four decades and account for roughly a third of Ford's sales.
"We're going to be electrifying the F-Series -- battery electric and hybrid," Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, said Wednesday at the Deutsche Bank Global Automotive Conference in Detroit.
Ford, though, has not given a timetable for when the new electric F-Series pickups will hit the market.
The news is Ford's latest effort in the electric vehicle market. This week, the U.S. automaker announced a partnership with Volkswagen to develop electric and self-driving vehicles.
Last June, Tesla announced plans for an all-electric pickup truck with four-wheel drive and a high-tech suspension system. Startup Rivian Automotive, founded by MIT graduates and based near Detroit, announced plans for an all-electric pickup in November.
"[Tesla's pickup] will have dual motor all-wheel drive with crazy torque and a suspension that dynamically adjusts for load. Those will be standard," Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted then, saying it's the "next level" in pickup trucks.
Auto industry observer John McElroy told the Detroit Free Press threats to Ford's F-Series trucks presented by Tesla and Rivian are too great to ignore.
"Look what Tesla has done in the luxury segment. They've clobbered just about everybody," he said.
"These are the crown jewels for Ford Motor Co., the F-Series. Ford has got to react to competitive threats."