Is a Tesla Pickup Possible?

Tesla MS drawing II

By Brian Wong

Any way you slice it, the Tesla Model 3 launch was a huge success, with the sedan racking up 325,000 preorders (and counting) for which buyers put down a $1,000 deposit — all without finalized specs, pricing or an actual production vehicle.

I attended the March 30 introduction of the Model 3 and was one of the few journalists to take a ride in a preproduction version. If Tesla can deliver on its promise — and that seems to be a big if — it has the potential to be an even bigger hit for the electric automaker than the larger, more expensive Model S and will make Tesla vehicles accessible to an entirely new customer base with the Model 3's projected base price of around $35,000.

When the Model 3 hits the streets, Tesla's lineup will include a sedan, a sports car and an SUV, which leaves one important stone unturned: What if Tesla decided to offer a pickup truck? 

Longtime PUTC readers know the idea of a full-electric pickup is not a new idea, and there are plenty of past examples of hybrid pickups that had limited success, but it's our thought that Tesla could be different with its own version of either a full-electric or new hybrid model

I'm not even going to guess at styling or how big the front glass would be. An all-glass cab anyone? As for size, I think something closer to a midsize pickup or smaller would make the most sense, mostly because Tesla's distribution centers and supercharger stations are focused around urban environments, where smaller trucks are likely to be more prevalent.

Speed and power likely wouldn't be a priority for a Tesla pickup but could be a nice value-added proposition. Each of Tesla's other vehicles have been almost too quick — even the Model 3 can really scoot with five adults in the car — so I don't see Tesla skimping on speed and power in a pickup either. The question would be whether Tesla would give the pickup a sport-truck personality or if it would find creative ways to improve traditional pickup truck characteristics such as payload and towing capability. Of course, it's possible Tesla could offer vehicles with multiple personalities. 

A Tesla pickup could be a tailgater's dream, like a Ram 1500 equipped with a RamBox or a Honda Ridgeline with it's bed-trunk. The battery packs or chargers could be used to power all sorts of electrical equipment such as a TV and satellite dish, an electric grill, blender or hand tools, eliminating the need for one of those annoyingly loud gas-driven generators.

Since driving with payload in the bed or pulling a trailer would cut into an electric pickup's range, we'd expect owners' range anxiety to increase unless Tesla addressed a few issues. This would also have implications in regard to Tesla's supercharger network as well. Tesla rightly touts the "freedom of movement" offered by the supercharger network, but right now the miles between supercharger stations could outstrip the range of a pickup with a heavy payload. This could make longer trips and normal usage more difficult, if not impossible, if the pickup can't cover a significant distance between stations.

Given those issues, our guess is an electric pickup would need a minimum range of 200 miles, but some tweaks might be necessary to extend full-electric mode depending on heat or load. Both the Tesla Model S and Model X get at least 240 miles or so of EPA-estimated range, and the Model 3 is predicted to offer at least 215 miles. Whether the solution is an additional plug-in "power pack" or something incorporated into a trailer or bed accessory remains to be seen. But it's very likely some type of mobile power station that extends range will need to be offered.

Finally, a Tesla pickup could have some positive commercial implications. If an electrified pickup can't be an effective work truck, the market for it narrows considerably — especially if it can't be used as a mobile power station itself. Unloaded, 200 miles of potential range is probably enough for most municipal or small-business work applications where the vehicle is consistently on a local job site or at a central location where there could be a charger.

All that said, we hope Tesla takes a crack at a pickup truck in the near future. Whether it will have the gull-wing doors of the Model X remains to be seen. But if there's any company that could push the envelope about how we see, use and define a pickup truck, Tesla is probably the company best positioned to do so.

Got any ideas about what a Tesla pickup truck should offer? Share your comments below.

Illustration by Mark Stehrenburger; manufacturer image

 

Alte Electric Pickup chassis

VIA-motors-Electric-Pickup II

 

Comments

Why not?

Tesla continues to surpass all expectations and predictions. They are establishing an incredible reputation for delivering products that wow and overcoming obstacles.

Anyone not taking them seriously is grossly ignorant.

It's not going to happen without on board generator. Small turbine would be ideal.

Yes. And, it will be called the Model Y.
That would complete their vehicle line up names.
Which spell- S.3.X.Y.

"It's not going to happen without on board generator. Small turbine would be ideal."

-What?

First there was the Cross Over - SUV... Gull-wing doors and lots of hype... Now a pickup truck... Nice idea but... Seeing and driving are believing...

@Mike
Not enough juice for truck to be used as a truck. Gasoline has 100 times more energy density than batteries.
Truck used as ever day commuter from the house to the office is possible, but you don't need truck then, just Nissan leaf.
Just look at the picture with the empty Chevy not pulling anything in the middle of nowhere in the winter. Imagine just with batteries. Scarry .

That.

When are auto makers going to realize that we don't want electric trucks?

papajim and others,
It's good to be all Stars and Stripes, like most of us.

There is one exception. Your comments make you look like fools.

Tesla pickup is very possible but a Chinese pickup is more possible. Why? Because China is much larger and more powerful than the US.

But, luckily most of us Stars and Strips types are not like you, insecure individuals.

I suppose you are weak and must put others down to hide your lack of confidence in yourself and others', particularly our great nation the USA by bashing China.

Please don't make all of us look stupid like papajim.

Until batteries and charging infrastructure make significant improvements, an extended range electric truck like the VIA is the way to go. Personally, when I use a truck, it's to pull a 4000lb boat, about 120 miles round trip. A 200 mile unloaded rating isn't going to cut it.
Now a 40 mile range that would cover my round trip commute every day, for a fraction of the cost of gas. And then the gas engine to be able to haul the boat, or take a road trip. Now that's what I want.

Will have to be a hybrid?
Trucks need to be able to operate in the cold, and draining your battery just to keep the windows free from frost, on the inside, is just pointless.
They will need tandem axle independent suspension for the heavy duty models. Dually models are far too un-aerodynamic.
The full size spare wheel [or two], can be positioned horizontally in the 'frunk' [front truck]

I don't see Tesla making an electric pickup any time soon. Why? Here are TEN (1) reasons why - - - -

1) ICE trucks are macho. EV's aren't. Simple.

2) Where is the real "Vroom" sound from an EV? You need an ICE for that.

3) My trucks have a 300-mile range under medium load. But can we expect that from EV's?

4) I live in WI. Trucks have to start, operate, tow, and haul at minus 20 deg F, --- and then go at least 200 miles that way.

5) Price? I can get the capability I need in a half-ton crew cab for about $55K. Could a Tesla EV 1/2-ton PU match that?

6) Weight? Batteries are heavy, whether lithium-ion or not. How much load capacity would I sacrifice with an EV-truck that a lighter ICE truck (think Ford F-150 aluminum body) would not forego?

7) Complexity/Reliability? More intense electronic controls and computerization mean less reliability, especially under extreme conditions.

8) Depreciation rates? Current PU's devalue at about ONE HALF the rate as ICE sedans. But EV cars devalue at about TWICE the rate of ICE sedans, mostly because of the battery issues. Why would I want the higher EV depreciation rate?

9) Battery replacement? I keep my PU's for 15-20 years. Is that TWO battery replacement-cycles for an EV truck? Forget it.

10) Alternative ICE Fuels? If diesel and gasoline become more of an EPA issue, there are conversions for natural gas (CNG) that burn very cleanly. CNG is VERY CHEAP as a fuel, since we have gobs of CNG. There is also the carbon-neutral "E-gas" project sponsored by Audi.

So, in conclusion: an EV pickup, with real universal capability? Not likely with current EV technology, and not in the short term. Might be OK for yuppie pseudo-trucks like the "Ridgeline"; but otherwise, forget it.

================================

@BIg AL(Denver), you are not stars and stripes when you are from Australia.

WE have enough dumb pickups and dont need anymore

I think EVs are vastly inferior to normal pickups. It is predicted that the Chinese will rule the roost with the future of EVs. The real cost of an EV will always be high and the Chinese will always build cheaper vehicles.

EV forward control light trucks for city deliveries is possible.

@NMGOM
7. EVs are actually far more simple than current ICE vehicles. There's only a handful of pieces in an electric motor.

8. EVs don't actually depreciate at twice the rate of the average car. The owners receive a tax credit of $7500 for purchasing new, so used prices reflect that. If you take into account the tax credit, the depreciation is similar.

9. Current batteries are designed to last the life of the car. There are several Volts on the road with 100k+ and even a couple with 200k+ miles, still using the original battery with no problems.
Ask a Toyota dealer how many Prius batteries they have replaced. It'll be very few.

I did read the Chinese will be the worlds leaders with EV tech.

Nitro, NMGOM, Robert Ryan,
I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

Nitro, NMGOM, Robert Ryan,
I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

Nitro, NMGOM, Robert Ryan,
I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

Nitro, NMGOM, Robert Ryan,
I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

Nitro, NMGOM, Robert Ryan,
I do think diesel will eventually become the fuel of choice for light commercial vehicles in the US for pickups that work.

We have seen the pickup become a car/CUV of late. This will also allow for a niche EV pickup market. These pickups will need to be small.

Who will pickup the bill to make EV pickups cheap enough to buy?

DenverIIIdud - China will need an american, Japanese, or European company to do it right first so they have a good design to copy, otherwise it will be a wanky attempt. I wonder if we'll see a Chinese Tesla copycat with a CEO that dresses exactly like Elon Musk and even copies his mannerisms the way we saw with that Chinese smartphone company's CEO aping Steve Jobs. Lol.

China is a powerful innovater the same way a Xerox machine is a great writer.

As for a Tesla electric truck, they should(and most likely will) wait till the Model IIIs have been shipping for a few years and have attained a high degree of reliability before they mess with another form factor. I could see them maybe trying a small crossover truck type option like subaru baja-ish on the model 3 platform, but nothing on par with a real work truck until the Model 3 is established. They need to master that first if they want to achieve their long term objectives.

They could build the first Diesel Electric Hybrid truck.

Large truck 100 mile all electric range, or Hybrid w/ 600 mile + range, or some functional load at 350 mile range.

Turbine...might work

You can bet if they do, Ford will get in be with them like Toyota http://gas2.org/2015/12/04/ford-toyota-hybrid-pickup-truck-program-ends/ or over pay to buy one to see how something good is built.
http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/20/11466810/tesla-model-x-ford-purchase

bed*

A full EV pickup would be fine for a large percentage of the USA population that live in larger urban centres and do not experience cold weather.
Since there is no "ICE" you have to heat the passenger compartment from battery power. That drops range. Using the truck as a power source also kills range.
200 mile range sounds good on paper but drop that to 150 in cold weather. What about under a heavy load? Drop that range to 50 max. Used as a power source? That EV is now a boat anchor.
In my part of the world an EV truck is a waste of time. Any cold climate or rural region also kills EV trucks.

Here's a good test to try on the new Tesla EV pickup:
a) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFnVZXQD5_k**
b) http://www.topgear.com/car-news/toyota-hilux-car-even-clarkson-couldn’t-kill

Let's see if it starts/drives afterwards (^_^)...

-----------
** Come to think of it, that looks exactly like one of mine...
-----------

====================

Lou_BC,
You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

Yes a midsize at first think electric ridgeline to test the waters. It's gonna take a lot of electricity to move a lot of weight. Don't expect ground shaking towing numbers. Furthermore, as much electricity as it would take for an electric truck factor in all of the pollution out out by electric plants. Electricity is really inefficient imo because u convert fossil fuel to electricity then it just "evaporates" like air so to speak. Ever use a phone or laptop and the battery is full then u run a program and the battery life cuts in half? Lots of people will be on the side of the road because of diminished battery life because of heavy feet, loud stereo systems and high electricity bills. Or hackers.

For a pickup to be practical, it would need 200 miles of range fully loaded. That is easily possible today and will be practical by 2020.

Lou_BC,
You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

Lou_BC,
You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

Lou_BC,
You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

Lou_BC,
You are correct about the urban pickup driver, who make up by far the largest majority.

The problem I foresee is who will cover the cost of subsidizing the purchase of these vehicles.

The EV will not drop in price for some time. The reason is resources are required to make EV vehicles competitive with fossil fuel vehicles. This research in batteries will cost a lot and someone will have to pay the price.

In the medium term I see diesel or better still compression ignition as the answer.

The true means of fuel independence is not a single type but rather the right application for the job. Trucks, diesel. City cars, electric. Performance cars, gasoline. Light duty family utility vehicles, hybrid diesel. I see no reason for hydrogen fuel cell as it wasted water and electricity.

But in all common sense why lose energy in parasitic losses converting fossil fuel to electricity when you are still burning fossil fuels anyway. Think of this, fossil fuel is efficient because it is energy that comes from dead beings. In short, it is recycling. Fossil fuels get purified then go through catalytic converters on automobiles. Where does fossil fuel get purified at an electric plant? And you don't shut an electric plant down for emissions reasons if they even had gigantic problematic catalytic converters on their smoke stacks lmao.

China is facing this dilemma now. Taxpayers are paying for pollution issues yet the electric plants are the main problem. And they are pushing for electric cars in China! Lol politics.

Every new car is going with the CVT Transmission cause they have been perfected and trouble free and WHY are no pickups going with the CVT ?
CVT will improve gas mileage, performance a non-ending gear ratio plus transfer more engine power direct to the wheels where the current transmission gobbles up engine power.
Repairs cheap and easy, just change a $150 belt instead of $4000 for a transmission rebuild, no fluids to leak and easy performance mods by changing springs and weights. If you get stuck only the belt slips with no damage.

@Lou bc

It's not that cat's are a bad idea for trucks performance wise, it's durability wise. Yes the tech can be perfected but there is a cost and profit margin as well.

Truck abuse would have cvts popping left and right as it stands now lol. That's why the last Silverado could only two 6,000 pounds. Can't remember payload.

Tow not two

@Josh - I agree that a multifaceted approach is needed. EV's are fine in high population density areas. That still means there is a potential for a huge market for EV pickups.
Any rural and/or remote areas are better served with conventional diesel and gasoline ICE engines.

@Josh, be sure you do your homework.

Heavy duty CVTs have been around for a long time. At least one hundred years.

Factories had them for pulling or driving heavy assemblies across shop floor operations.

The idea of a variable drive power transmission machine utilizing different sized pulleys is the essence of industrial heavy duty operations, so why is the CVT in your mind somehow a light-duty affair.

Read, study, memorize. By the time you're as old as me you'll be really something.

Yeah you can tell BAFO is back. Answer for everything and makes sure he post it multiple times.

Not all electricity comes from fossil fuels. In Idaho 2/3 of electricity is hydroelectric. The other 1/3 is almost an even split of wind and natural gas. And most of the wind-generated electricity in Idaho is sent all the way to California believe it or not. Washington and Oregon also have a large percentage of their electricity come from hydroelectric power plants aka dams. IMO the only real problem with electric vehicles is the expense of the batteries. Battery technology is improving but they need to find a way to make them cheaper and longer lasting. Love my lithium Ion power tools. It's amazing how long they last and how much power they have. I'd love an electric truck if they can give it good range and not too expensive. An electric powertrain can be much more efficient and reliable than a combustion engine. Just need to find a way to make it cheaper. Where I live electricity is very cheap and a totally environmentally friendly source of energy.

"It's not going to happen without on board generator. Small turbine would be ideal."

-What?
/QUOTE

Like this maybe

https://youtu.be/oOYrJm23OpM

Fully electric truck isnt practical yet,probably never will
Hybrid electrics are ready now..
why can small company do it and Big three cant?

https://youtu.be/fmblLgfsf58

https://youtu.be/qJJA648cwD8

Papa jim

Never said i knew everything, lol. I do appreciate ur knowledge.

Beebe

I'm pretty sure lithium is gonna be expensive to extract from the earth considering everbody wants it.

Everyone

Imo multiple options for each one's application is the best approach. Just like some people like apartments or condos. Electric cars are for those people who never leave the city. With more options I could see licence options changing based on responsibility of driving skill. Leasing options would be more flexible as people change lifestyles. Engines could be dictated by weight classes and driver experience. Example, if someone can't handle a 160mph gasoline hotrod they should not have a licence for it but an electric 80mph car can get them to work.

Ford already paid $199,950 — $55,000 more than the sticker price — to buy one of the first SUVs made by Tesla, according to vehicle registration documents obtained by Bloomberg. Proving that Ford stinks at not only building its own POS vehicles, it’s not even efficient at stealing technology to copy other manufacturers. If Tesla builds a pickup it doesn’t have to worry about selling it to the public, the idiots at Ford will overpay for those as well…lol


http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/24/autos/ford-fusion-mercury-milan-recall/

@Josh

...so why is the CVT in your mind somehow a light-duty affair? CVT is a rugged and HD way to move stuff.

Lou from BC had it right. Why do all the expense of building a ten speed trans that's as complicated as a Rolex watch when you can have a CVT that is rugged and simple and easy to repair.

Detroit hasn't figured out how to SELL the CVT to us redneck truckers, that's all. Once they are confident that it can be sold, goodbye all those 10 speed trans.

Just food for thought guys. I'm not a know it all. I'm a common man. But all men have common philosophies and beliefs and ponder at the thought of things. Politicians do this for a living. Politicians are pretty much engineers of society. They try to find ways to compact us together efficiently. That is why fuel efficiency, pollution, safety standards, and taxes are so important them. This is why voting in turn matters to us. If our votes actually counted...Anyway, the concepts I suggested in my last post are things politicians could eventually consider.



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