Motive Industries, a global design company in Canada, has a new idea for a completely composite-body midsize pickup truck.
Internally code-named Bison, the design truck is meant to be a showcase for potential clients that might be interested in a design that lends itself to hybrid powertrains, battery storage capability or other future-tech modes of transport. This concept is a shell designed to show Motive's ability to develop a unique pickup design to work with the next and best industry powertrains, renewable fuels or emerging materials and technologies. Starting with a ground-up design, the engineering involved to package the batteries and powertrain isn't compromised by any pre-existing chassis.
The Bison boasts a bed size that's 75 inches long, 52 inches wide and 21.5 inches tall, closer in cargo dimensions to the much-larger full-size short bed. Motive says the ground clearance of the design is 9.5 inches, but that would likely vary depending on what powertrain or suspension package a manufacturer prefers.
As to construction, Motive believes there are many benefits to a composite-bodied pickup. The first being it's lightweight. Using carbon fiber over steel can reduce weight by as much as 50 percent, whereas fiber glass would offer only a 30 percent weight reduction.
Second, composite-bodied vehicles can have a profitable low to medium production run between 500 and 25,000 vehicles. One of the largest differences in producing a vehicle like the Bison is in the tooling investment required for stamped steel versus composite. In many cases, the costs for composite tooling can be a fraction of similar stamped-steel tooling.
A 100,000-unit production run — or the idea that to make a profit, many manufacturing execs don't want to consider any new models that can't potentially sell 100,000 units per year — is, in many ways, becoming difficult to manage as manufacturers struggle to keep up with developing technology and erratic market trends. Motive hopes to enlighten manufacturers about the benefits of a vehicle that can have a much lower production run and still make a profit.
Here's what Motive says about the Bison:
"The overall design character is sporty and assertive, communicated by its wide front-end graphic elements and aggressive wheel arches. The geometrical and angular form language, along with wedge profiles throughout, evolves the typical square pickup form into something much more modern and provocative.
"The Bison is targeting the 25- to 35-year-old consumer or the progressive company requiring utility fleet vehicles who wants to make a statement. The stance is important to convey stability and power.
"The Bison's two-tone 19-inch wheels shod in aggressive tread are pushed out to the corners of the truck, providing a long wheelbase. Inserts in the wheels can be body color or a tech-looking opaque Lexan for an EV edition.
"Charcoal-colored polymer bumpers are durable and designed to deal with the tough fleet/commercial use in the field. Side step panels are incorporated into the rockers. The panel break up along the bumpers and rocker panels help to visually lighten the truck along with the rising cutout feature in the rocker. This rise in the rocker is a common design feature coming from Motive's design ethos, influenced by the waistlines of athletic animals like a horse or greyhound. It helps to visually lighten the body, but accentuate the 'chest' or engine bay area of the vehicle."
The design does have a futuristic quality to it and a unique look, and it offers a small echo toward the new Ford Ranger, which recently debuted in the Far East. There was no word on what type of suspension the vehicle might have, what cab features could exist or what kinds of special bed options or cab pass-throughs may be available as part of the design.
It's our guess the global design is not likely to capture the eye of any of the U.S. small-truck makers, but this could be something very interesting to a potential Chinese car company looking to make some inroads to the Australian market and possibly into Thailand. For more on the company and the design, click here.