By G.R. Whale
Pickup trucks have reliably run on gasoline, diesel and to a lesser extent ethanol for many years, but that doesn't mean it will continue. Recent low-volume propulsion choices include compressed or liquefied natural gas, propane and batteries.
Despite diesel-truck standards that cut hydrocarbons by 10 times, nitrous oxide by 50 times, an optional 500 in California and particulate matter by 60 times in the last 30 years, cities around the world and states from California to New York want all of it eliminated in three to eight years. California, which lags behind most states in clean-diesel trucks because of vehicles that come from across the country to work the ports, wants them replaced by CNG engines.
But where will future trucks carry the fuel? CNG pickups typically lose bed space or capacity to carry the tanks. If your pickup is powered by electricity — GM was testing electric motors in the Chevrolet S-10 some 20 years ago — the battery may take the place of drive shafts, gearboxes and fuel tanks, but what will it do to payload? And how fast can you recharge it on the long trips pickups often make?
Gasoline remains a viable choice, too. While towing anything heavy with it might yield minimal cruising range, at least refills are faster and more convenient than any battery right now.
What do you think will power your future pickup and why?
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; manufacturer photo