Possible Electric Pickup Plant Powers Tesla Talks With Texas Legislature

Tesla pu 2

What do you do when you are one of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world, dividing your time between space exploration technology and building electric cars? Apparently you get frustrated with the National Auto Dealers Association about how your vehicle must be sold in the U.S.

According to Automotive News, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to sell his boutique electric vehicles directly to customers from Tesla stores setup around the country, rather than through the conventional, expensive and elaborate dealer networks.

And to make his point, he is working with the Texas legislature (a state noted for some of the strictest dealer requirements in the country) to rewrite some of the existing laws. Additionally, he's dangling the "carrot" to state officials that, if supported in his quest to open individual stores to sell his electric cars, he may be interested in building an electric pickup truck plant somewhere in Texas.

Not long ago, we discussed the possibility of what an electric pickup might look like if a company like Tesla built one; we got a wide range of responses from our readers. It remains to be seen whether Musk is serious about the feasibility of an electric pickup truck or if he's just trying to persuade Texas public officials that helping him now could mean helping the state’s economy later, but for now we can only imagine what a Model S-platformed sports pickup might look like.

Tesla pu

Comments

New York Times pointed out that the pricey product Elon Musk wants to put on the market for the public has limitation - he went bonkers like a child.

‘Dangling the "carrot" to state officials that, .... he may be interested in building an electric pickup truck plant somewhere in Texas.’ may turn out to be elusive - after he gets what he aspires.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html?ref=automobiles&pagewanted=all&_r=0

The top one doesn't look to bad, the bottom one not so much. I don't think people will buy a truck thats really a jacked up car, they will just buy a car

And they get it wrong again. Tesla doesn't sell directly, they just show the vehicle. They don't sell the vehicle through the stores

Unless Tesla has some secret battery juice up their sleeves I don't see how this could be particularly functional. People use trucks to get work done, either hauling or pulling things. Hauling or pulling things requires the motor(s) to put out more power. More power means the batteries - which already have a wimpy range - get drained even faster. Sure electric motors theoretically seem perfect for vehicles (especially trucks) do to their max torque production at zero rpms, but how is that going to successful if you can only drive 100 miles or less doing work?

Unloaded or not towing one could certainly get some additional range out of the batteries, but in that case, with what this will likely cost, why not just use a sedan or commuter car when it comes to unloaded commuting?

I don't want to poopoo the idea, and want as many trucks out there as can be, I just don't see how this will be particularly functional given the limitations of current battery energy density.

Look! -- an appliance for carrying.

I doubt we see a full blown F150 type competition form Tesla for quite a while. My guess is if there is a "truck" up Elon's sleeve it is likely a unibody trucklet. 1000 lb pay load and enough space for a dirt bike or other cumbersome but no heavy application. Maybe enough to reasonably tow a couple of jet skiis or smaller boats.

What has more of a chance of working is class 4/5 short haul truck. Mercedes owns around 10% of Tesla and Mercedes has a very large share of the commercial truck market across the globe. I could see a tug truck used in the various Texas ports. They don't have to cover long distance or acheive high speed they just need torque to get things moving.

There are already a couple of products like this in the market but Elon typcially does things to the "9's" so I'd expect his will be able to do more work, be more cost competitive or have some other feature that the competition doesn't.

@Phillyguy: Exactly how many miles does the average utility pickup truck (meaning cable company, plumbers, electricians, etc...) travel in a given day? Specifically, in Philadelphia itself, where you claim to live, how far would that truck really be driven in the course of a workday?

I'd be surprised if they went more than 50 miles as metro Philly itself is only about 25 miles across and most companies already try to calculate a 'shortest round-trip route' for each vehicle's call schedule. Where a truck like this would perform best is in the city center area which is much smaller and where the electric drive would provide the most benefit in stop-and-go traffic, full acceleration power and NO Pollution! No fleet, at least as yet, would consist of nothing but electrics.

@Andrew: You really need to look at those images again. Both trucks are essentially identical with only the color and the wheels differing. While our current US trucks aren't as aerodynamic as the one pictured, that's really the only difference in style between the Tesla trucks pictured and what we're already driving.

@David Robertson: I have read that article before and I would like to note that even the author admitted to two mistakes in the course of his drive--the most critical of which was not waiting the full hour for the first recharge. Now, I will admit that most drivers don't tend to pay much attention to their electronics but he did clearly mention that colder weather IS one of the factors that reduces charge capacity. However, he accepted the "Charge Complete" indicator at face value when almost all users of electronic devices know that you have to give it some extra time in order to 'top off'. In this case, it cost him roughly 30 miles of range that would have reduced his range anxiety, if not eliminated it. The simple fact that he still managed 200 miles under less-than-ideal conditions puts the Tesla 'S' far ahead of its next-nearest competitor.

Tesla is the only real electric car company that seems to be getting it right with a good range and an overall good quality product. I think as far as a truck goes, they should be shooting for volume here, and fleet sales should be the goal for the majority of production -- low content, good range, lower service costs..... Then amp up for more consumer models with the content seen on the Model S. Build a more efficient small/midsized model for light fleet usage that is affordable and cheaper to maintain and operate and they're in the money.

I don't want to come off as anti-electric, but almost every electric car has two major drawbacks:

1. Recharging an a electric car isn't like refueling a gas/diesel car. It can take hours to recharge, compared to the 5 minutes it takes to refuel.

2. Where is the electricity coming from? If it's from an outdated fossil-fuel plant, you're not solving any problem; you're just pushing it down the line.

Now, if both of those drawbacks are addressed (Ex. charging at night or generating electricity from renewable resources), then I'm all for it. EVs are great for urban areas, and 75+% of the US population lives in urban areas.

The Battery needs a complete redesign. The current idea of the reaction of materials has been tried for over 2 hundred years without much improvement with regards to transportation.

The new battery must start with the use of hydrogen as the storage source. Then either the fuel cell or a hydrogen powered internal combustion engine or turbine.

Hydrogen can be produce by any of todays environmentally friendly electrical generation systems. It can store electricity during off peak hours allowing the generators to run a maximum efficiency 24 hours a day. The ideal form of production would be from hydroelectric generators because they are already in place and are located on the water resource needed for electrolysis.

Great strides have been made toward wave and tidal electrical generation. Wind/solar farms in the ocean/lakes could also produce great amounts of electricity and hydrogen.

It will take hydrogen production to make these green generation system economically practical. Just a few upgrades to our natural gas pipeline system would make the delivery of hydrogen possible.

What is amazing is that hydrogen isn't competing with gasoline or electric vehicles. It is competing with the possibility of greater use of Natural gas in transportation vehicles.

That is a false argument. Because artificial arguments are stopping all investment in a natural gas distribution systems. With a better delivery system, natural gas would drive gasoline out of the market.

We need a better distribution system. One that will support the delivery of natural gas and hydrogen. The availability of hydrogen would put limits on the price of natural gas.

We also need export tariffs on all energy products. As a nation with abundant resources, we should enjoy a financial advantage compared to other nations.

Without an export tariff, we will always suffer the argument of a 'World Market'.

Remember, all resources located above or below federal or state land. Belong to the public not the petro companies. We should demand a say in where and to whom it is refined and sold.

As far as the cost of converting a internal combustion engine to natural gas. It can be done for as little as 1200 dollars on carbureted engines. And still emit only water exhaust when using hydrogen.

It is the idea of using natural gas or hydrogen in internal combustion engines using fuel injection that causes the huge conversion cost.

The government does have the responsibility to improve transportation and delivery systems that are used nationwide.

They do not have the right to invest tax money in individual for profit companies or corporations. Anytime tax money is invested in this type of organization. The research information and development information/rights should be available for free to anyone.

Telsa wants to build a modern day 4 door elcamino!

David, I just thought of another draw back for an electric pickup. Towing, I noticed that the sketch of the rear view of the truck has no tow hitch. Could you imagine if you were to tow with an electric truck, what would your range be on a 6K load.....10 miles??? I'll stick with a fossil fueled powered trucks.

These technologies are fantastic, but the unfortunate aspect is they are heavily subsidised, globally.

If the market for a product is not self sustaining then it isn't viable. The US and many countries can't afford these 'feel good programs'.

I don't think Henry Ford was subsidised as his product sold well enough to create a much larger industry.

Maybe in 50 years these vehicles will be more viable and the development of the required technology by then will be much cheaper.

Nobody except maybe fleet buyers wants an electric pickup, they want a throaty sounding V8, not a truck that sounds like a vacum cleaner.

I call BS - if Tesla is going to "build" a truck at a Texas plant, it won't be a new facility. Factories cost a LOT of money to build, and Tesla simply can't afford to build anything...that's why they're working out of a corner of the old NUMMI plant that Toyota sold them at a substantial discount.

I think this might be news for Toyota fans, however, as Tesla and Toyota worked together to produce an electric Rav4, and an electrified Tundra was spotted once at Tesla's facility:

http://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2012/03/23/electric-tundra-test-mule/

I'd guess that if Tesla builds a truck in Texas, it will be part of a deal with the states largest truck manufacturer (ahem, Toyota).

@BuddyIam
All of these technologies are great, except they are all liabilities for any country to use them.

I read an interesting article on the impact to the Spanish industrial base. It stated the impact of Spain converting to the so called 'green' energies contributed significantly to its economic woes.

Spain is currently one of the world's largest users of 'green' energy.

It wasn't just a construction bubble. So how good is green energy and what does it contribute? Is it better to clean up fossil fuels?

It looks like a model economy we should all emulate.

Greenies have to realise that you generally need heat to have an engine to produce usable energy for our society. Heat can be made easiest by burning something or a nuclear reaction.

I agree with Jason at TundraHQ. They should get with Toyota who is more American than Ram and GM. Go Toyota!

With all this talk of Tesla, and there has not been mentioned the one true drawback of all Tesla's products, and that is cost! as the vehicles they do make are not bad, and very luxurious, but cost a LOT! and you could go out a buy a nice new GM Hybrid, and all the gas you would need for yrs., and get a boat or motorcycle, for less than the price of one tesla car being made now! I know I know, I mentioned GM, the co. many folks love to hate! but if you have never driven one, how can you give an opinion on them? I have drien one, and it was fine, and would have met the needs I have, but for one, and that is price, I just could not afford to buy one, as I have to be able to buy more than one vehicle fro the household, and to pay 45K for one, is out of the question, but lets step back for a moment here, how much does anyone think Tesla could bring a truck to market for? and I mean one with at least the cappability of the GM Hybrid trucks? yes they would be less to opperate, probably, but would at least get better MPG E ? or whatever they call it, the point is, there is already a Hybrid truck being made right now, or was? and it was not exactly setting any sales records.

@ DWFields

I don't have an answer to your question, minimally the amount a utility truck travels is going to vary heavily based upon the day's workload, and what particular service it is providing. A public works sewer truck in the city itself may only drive a few miles in an entire day. A Comcast cable guy in the suburbs may do 40-75+. A Septa truck may put 200 miles / day on the truck. If you talk to a variety of contractors in the suburbs they will tell you that they put 50-100+ miles/day on their primary vehicle, whether a truck, van, etc.

Does any of this really matter?

A Tesla Model S already weighs over 4600 lbs, and that is with an aluminum body that few trucks use. It costs more than $60K ($70K if you don't count the BS federal discount) for the model with a 60 kwh battery. That gets the Tesla about 200 miles. A truck would weigh *at least* an extra thousand pounds. All of the utility trucks cited above are at least 3/4 tons, if not 1 tons or larger. That would probably add 1500- 2000 lbs to the weight of a Tesla S. How much would that reduce the 200 miles range? If you then load up the truck and possibly pull a trailer behind (which utility trucks frequently do) you have now added what? Another 1000lb - 2000lb to a vehicle that already only gets 200 miles to a charge?

So minimally you would be looking at a $60K+ Tesla S, with an easy 2000 lbs - 4000 lbs added to it, and you question if the utility truck only travels 50 miles in a day? You'd better hope so since that is probably all the more you are going to get out of the thing. And *if* you have a need to drive further than usual on a particular day what is the solution? Do you bring gasoline and a generator along in the bed of the truck? This of course completely ignores the *enormous* price premium of such a truck, which a fleet buyer would never even consider.

Are there a few extremely isolated and specific instances where an electric pickup could excel? Absolutely. Would one be price effective in those instances? I doubt it but we will have to see how they are priced if/when they are released.

@Big Al from Oz..."If the market for a product is not self sustaining then it isn't viable. The US and many countries can't afford these 'feel good programs'." I agree with your sentiment but if the US and UK cannot afford this stuff then nobody can. The cruelest impact of the Green movement is the crushing effect that it's had on the world's poor.

Whether removing Freon from the market or trying to eliminate C02, the Greens forget that sort of thing's expensive, a luxury that most of the world's people would happily skip if it meant having a better standard of living or better medical care.

Tesla, please make electric trucks that resemble trucks, not the el camino. Thanks.

Okay, an 80 grand truck that maybe will get 200 miles range in warm weather with the AC off and zero cargo?
My in-laws live 75 miles away. If I take this truck to go visit them in the winter with a bit of a load, I might have to stay the night to make sure I get back home. I better learn to get along with the father-in-law.
If I go fishing 100 miles out into the middle of buttf--k no-where, I might not make it back home if I run the stereo while drinking some cold ones around the camp fire.
I'd better not plug in the DC cooler or recharge thae battery for the Minn Kota motor.

Where do I sign up?

@Phillyguy: I think you're making some incorrect assumptions.

* Why would an electric truck have to weight a thousand pounds more? If you consider the truck bed as an extension of the trunk and use something like a diamond-plate aluminum load bed you might add as little as 200 pounds over a non-truck version. It also wouldn't need all the high-lux interior materials which could be both lighter in weight AND less expensive for production. Add to this the fact that it would offer roughly 200 miles per charge it would cover nearly every example you suggested for range where all of those services use a 1/2-ton pickup today.

Now, I'll grant that using it as an over-the-road utility in the way I occasionally had to drive from Chattanooga to Knoxville to pick up production parts for our assembly line (purchasing agent not keeping up with inventory or production requirements) and back would maybe give a Tesla truck user some range anxiety (I already had that problem with a '73 Ford Gran Torino that could only barely manage it on a full tank) but it could still be done--if that was the only run of the day for that truck. And that's the point; it would be used in the same way a typical half-ton is used, not a 3/4 or HD truck. The buyer buys to meet the need, not the prettiest or the most luxurious (unless, maybe, he's buying it for himself.)

@DWFields

I suppose if they made it small enough and used a variety of lightweight materials it could work in certain circumstances. But who is going to want to pay for that truck?

I really would love for electric vehicles to take off, especially trucks. Electric motors have perfect torque curves for trucks, they really do not need much in the way of transmissions, and a motor at every wheel gives you extraordinary ability to haul, tow, manage offroad, manage poor weather, and whatever else.

But between the cost and the lack of energy density in the batteries I just don't see how it could happen given current technology. And even if charge density could get to 300-400 miles and be affordable, the recharging issue would have to be sorted out before they would likely ever hit mainstream acceptance.

I am rooting for them though, I just think we're a long ways away from electric really making a big impact. If I had to take a guess I would think that we are more likely to see much heavier use of dual clutch transmissions, and some kind of turbo'd, DI, ethanol/methanol deal (like Ford's Bobcat setup) in the future. Between the dual clutch transmissions and ethanol/methanol injection under load the auto makers should be able to eek another few percent efficiency out of the current ICE setup.

I will admit that one thing I'm opposed to is the 'motor at each wheel' concept. True, it gives you probably the best form of AWD, but you're also talking about significantly higher un-sprung weight which makes for a much less comfortable ride as well as increasing the number of moving parts and overall load on the batteries. A single, well-designed motor cranking a more conventional transmission--even if it is only a single-speed transmission--would probably save energy over feeding four motors, even if they are smaller individually. One of the best factors is that physical design of the vehicle wouldn't really need to be so drastically different as compared to current non-electric vehicles.

you can already buy hybrid electric truck or van from Viamotors for about the same price,and have no worry about running outta juice as its ICE acts like a generator,much like Volt.

[url]www.viamotors.com[/url]

@DWFields - how do you figure there are less moving parts with one electric motor going through a transmission then through a drive shaft into a differential then out through a set of axles? You talk 4x4 then we have a transfer case, another drive shaft then one more diff and more axles.

4 electric motors equal 4 moving parts.

Unsprung weight? It will not be much heavier since you do not need heavy axles, carriers, and differentials.

Load on the batteries all depends on the size of each motor. There may be some loss through the extra wiring required for 4 motors but it isn't going to be that significant.

Look guys! It's another "concept" truck!

Let's see...

Gargantuan 26-inch donk wheels...Check!
Ridiculously impractical 1-inch-tall ultra-low-profile tires...Check!
Looks like an El Camino cruising the projects...CHECK!

It looks like another winner! Time to reward our "designers" with another pay raise!

Ugh.

The innovation of this is good, but all die hard Truck loyalist won't be quick to jump on board, I feel for Government Fleet Service Agencies that can use trucks like these, they should be the first in the shoot to get the feel as to whether or not this is going to work before pushing this experiment to actual consumers for POV use.



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