Illustrations by Mark Stehrenberger Design
It wasn't that long ago when the idea of fully electric cars had some pundits saying it would never happen, but they are here. And now, with the presidential election behind us and the Obama administration likely to continue to push toward more automotive electrification, it seems more likely than ever to see added investment in that direction.
Automotive News is reporting that it's likely President Barack Obama will continue to push for the his target of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, less than three short years away. If that is going to happen, electric vehicles will need to evolve away from cute-car anomalies and move into more mainstream designs and vehicle segments. And that means pickup trucks.
Given the coming regulations that the EPA will be (and has been) pushing, including the 54.5 mpg (equivalent) corporate average fuel economy targets for 2025, we have to assume that pickup trucks will be represented. But from which manufacturers and in what segments? There's no question that pricing will eventually have to come down to make them affordable to be bought in reasonable numbers, but much will depend on the company that makes the first vehicle and is willing to take the big risk.
As best as we can tell, it's more likely to come from an existing company that is used to taking big risks with special projects and doesn't mind where the money for those projects comes from. That's why it makes more sense to us that a company like Tesla is more apt to take the first steps than a company like GM or Ford. We'd also assume that along with the risk in technology, there could also be an equally large risk in styling.
Clearly, these types of "utes" would be both interesting and unique and could create an entirely new segment, one we have seen in this country for over 40 years. Australia (also meaning both Ford and GM) know that these types of vehicles can be quite capable, quite rugged and quite powerful (and, we're told, very fun to drive).
Only time will tell, but for now, we offer this as just one possibility. There's no question our pickup trucks will change over the next 10 to 15 years (who knows what will happen to fuel prices), but there's no reason we have to sacrifice style, comfort and work duty, is there?