ALTe Wants to Park an Electric Pickup in Your Driveway

ALTe Wants to Park an Electric Pickup in Your Driveway
By Mark Williams for

It makes perfect sense that all electric cars coming to market are two- and four-door microvehicles, but what if you want to do some real work? Is electric technology off-limits to pickup trucks?

One small company with big ambitions is hoping to turn the electric and pickup truck markets on their heads. ALTe, a new company exploring plug-in and range-extending hybrid powertrains, has been working with some big manufacturers, as well as various large fleet sales companies, to find out if there’s a market for its battery technology. Put simply, ALTe — a shortened wording of “alternative energy” — has developed a powerful drive system similar in design to the upcoming Chevy Volt. In this case, a 2008 Ford F-150 crew-cab two-wheel-drive pickup uses a late-model Ford Focus 2.0-liter I-4 engine to power an electric motor that also can charge two stacks of lithium-ion batteries.

ALTe was founded by a group that broke from the current leaders of Tesla Motors (makers of the short-range electric Tesla Roadster sports scar), deciding instead to address the very real hurdle most consumers report they have with electric vehicles: What do I do if I run out of juice?

Range anxiety is what drove ALTe designers toward the tandem power system. A small four-cylinder engine is used after the battery pack runs out for simple electricity generation and battery charging. In the test-bed F-150 application, the factory fuel tank was reduced from 27 gallons to eight, filling the remaining tank space with lithium-ion batteries. Another battery pack sits on the other side of the driveshaft (mostly for weight balance) and provides another 10 kilowatts of juice.

ALTe Range Extended Electric Pickup Chassis
 Top View

The range in the F-150 is over 50 miles in full electric mode, with an extra 300 miles provided when the gas motor kicks on to keep the electric motor supplied with power, said John Thomas, ALTe’s co-founder and CEO. (Of course, range will vary depending on load.) If you find yourself having traveled less than 50 miles at the end of the day, simply plug the vehicle into a wall socket, and the batteries will be charged by morning.

This Gen III powertrain system (four-cylinder engine, dual battery packs, electric motor and much more) weighs about 200 pounds more than a comparably equipped 5.4-liter V-8 Super Crew F-150 with a full tank of gas. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t have used a small diesel with this project,” Thomas said, “but with all the after-treatment requirements to keep the emissions down, it was much more cost effective for us to grab the Focus four.”

ALTe predicts the truck’s actual towing capacity would likely go down a bit, partly because of the inherent pulling power of the electric motor when operating at higher speeds and very likely at warmer temperatures. Practically speaking, this will means a 7,500-pound towing capacity instead of 10,000 pounds. Payload would be down by 200 pounds as well. All in all, a pretty small capability cost for a much lower overall cost of ownership.

For now, ALTe is targeting companies that are more likely to understand the long-term cost benefits of a powertrain swap, but we’re guessing that as more people begin to see that the tradeoffs are minimal, we wouldn’t be surprised if GM, Ford and Chrysler come knocking on ALTe’s door pretty soon. And as soon as we get a chance to test-drive one of these vehicles, we’ll have the complete road test. Stay tuned.

ALTe Range Extended Electric Pickup Chassis


Not against electric technology but please bring me a proven long lasting diesel technology already!

This system makes sense. Use a fuel efficient engine as a power generator. It probably is cheeper to build as well.

The biggest questions that needs answers is this - how much electricity does it take to provide an overnight charge up? and what is that cost?

I am a little confused. Does the electric motor assist the 4cylinder all the time? If it doesn't I have a hard time believing a Focus 4 cylinder can tow 7500lbs or haul much of a payload. They also do not say what top speeds are achieved under electric power. IIRC most cars top out a 40mph before they switch to gas. Good around town due to electric assist, but nothing special on the highway when it switches to gas only.

@Keith: The gas engine is used to recharge the batteries. It doesn't drive the wheels.

This is actually old (proven) tech. They've been using a powertrain consisting of a diesel generator driving electric motors in the hubs on rock trucks (the big off-road dump trucks in quarries and construction sites) for ages. Electric has a torque advantage, plus the transmission becomes simpler or non-existent. I believe the real challenge was improving battery technology to the point that it became economical (weight and initial cost-wise) to install this in a light vehicle. Engines hit a peak for efficiency at a certain RPM. This allows it to run ONLY at that ideal point - therefore, no losses due to idling/running at points in the RPM range off-peak. Personally, I'm excited to see this and I think there's some real potential in it.

I am against electric vehicles !!!

Give me a loud,powerful V-8 and I am happy !!!

For you brain washed greenies,Vehicles pollute less and less each year with more power,why waste time with elecrtic vehicles,just make my V-8 cleaner and more powerful,as it is happening each year !! No high cost batteries ect....

Remember in Japan they are raping the land,ancient 16 th century rice fields to drill for lithium-ion for electric batteries..soooo... electric vehicles are not so green after all !!! Yes,you have to drill for it,destroying the land..

Hello Capit

Gas prices are 2.87 / gallon and surprising the E85 prices have come down to 2.99 / gallon ( just 12 cent margin). When E85 comes down, expect automakers to sell more Flexfuels and regular gasolene vehicles will go down.

Dont expect a V8, many V8 based SUV's (Durango, Aspen, Trailblazer, Envoy) has gone, soon the pickups will follow their route.

Soon the EV's will start coming up all over just like Hybrids have become common.

@mike - Ohh I see now! More like an onboard generator.

Capit - Clean air isn't the only issue. There is also fuel economy to consider. I'd rather pay to fill an 8 gallon tank for a clean 4 cylinder that generates electricity that can power an electric motor with the power of a V8 for 300 miles than feed my 18mpg highway V8 28 gallons every 320 miles. Do the math. I love how V8's sound too but would rather keep $60 plus a week in my pocket too!

Pickups will NEVER die in America Max, NEVER. Thats why you're seeing this tech being put into pickups. Worst case for pickups would be a zero emission diesel with all kinds of emission crap on it, and I would still buy that over a little ricer car. This tech is good though I guess, but give us a diesel as an alternative if we don't want to buy an electric vehicle!

I'd be Ok with is just as long as it isn't on a Ford.

I'm ok with keeping Wallies out of Fords too.
Mike, how many thousands of lb-ft does this thing produce? I'm all for electric power! I'm up for 45mpg in an F-150 too! 0-60 in like 6 seconds too, right? Why do we have V8s again?

this really is not new tech and it is proven to work(like in the big mining truck as mentioned above). it is also how a Diesel Locomotive works. they use a 3200hp 2 cycle diesel that runs at a constant and most efficient rpm that drives a 17,000# generator that can power a neighborhood. this in turn powers the electric motors to move the train.

they also use dynamic braking which is similar to regenerative braking but the energy is sent into a big resistor instead of fed back into a battery.

Do the batteries blow up in a crash?
How many years will the batteries be good for?
Any cost information?
Time frame for availability?
1/4 mile?

How does it perform in:

Cold weather?
Hot weather?
Real truck territory?

Not just performance, what about durability? Is it going to be a truck or an electric car with an big open trunk?


Batteries don't like cold weather. I've had people tell me that in cold winter weather the Prius and other hybrids will run fully on gas power for 10 - 15 miles before the batteries warm up enough to be effective at powering the vehicle. That kills a hybrid's effeciency for many people who would use one for commuting to/from work.

This vehicle should be able to go any place a regular truck can go. Driving in sand or mud would shorten the battery range just like it would drop MPG in a regular truck.

They said it should be able to pull 7,500 lb. That is better than the towing capacity of a Chev hybrid 2 wheel drive's 6,100 lb.
They stated an extra 300 miles once the engine kicks in to power the generator. With an 8 gallon tank that would be :
37.5 mpg.
That also is much better than the GM hybrid's 21/22 mpg. (PS I'm using the Chev hybrid information from this site as a comparison - I'm not trying to "set off" the GM fanboys).
50 miles without fuel - I wonder how many miles per kw/hour or miles/dollar of electricity that would work out to be.

electric cars and trucks are a waste of resources, time, and definitely money. who wants to pay, on average, $5000 dollars, to say that they can travel 50 miles ALONE on an electric battery before it needs to be charged. this does not seem like a good cost to efficiency ratio to me. any car or truck, whether its gas, diesel, hybrid or electric, leaves some sort of carbon footprint. what need or should start doing is walking. if you took a job that was 40 miles away, shame on you for putting yourself in a position where you have to drive to get there. for those that don't know, gas is not a renenwable source, and that means it will run out some time. thats why i don't care how good gas mileage my truck gets. gas will run out sooner or later. the only way, short of walking to work, to not leave a carbon footprint, is to drive a hyrdogen-powered car, hydrogen-powered cars are the technology we should be focusing on, not electric or hybrid cars. this is where we need to skip learning how to walk, and get straight to running lol. hydrogen-powered technology won't be around till like 2020, so until then, any car will pollute. folks that drive electric or hybrid cars are dillusional. they think theyre doing their part. well they are, theyre still doing their part at destroying our planet. our planet will vanish some time, as well, but thank god i will be dead by then. so will our social security! why do people to save things too late? maybe if more people walked to work, they wouldn't have self entitled issues. most of the time, people get jobs that are like 40 miles, so that puts them in a situation where they HAVE to drive to work. thats a shame on them, they shoulde have known better, but we all live in a society where everybody is either stupid or slow, so oh well, what can i do? driving is a priviledge not a right. so in short, everybody will die sometime, gas will run out eventually, and this planet will blow up at some point. suck it up people, nothing lasts forever, so come back to my level, because i see everything, not just what i want to see!

@ Allistar - even if you walked to work nude - you would leave a "carbon footprint". Are you a vegetarian? Cows produce a massive amount of methane gas. A very potent greenhouse gas.
Quote:A scientific report published in California last week claimed that dairy cows in the area were producing almost 20 pounds (in weight, that's almost 10 kg) of gas every year, each. That's a huge, huge amount.
If that figure is accurate, it could mean that cow farts were causing more global warming than pollution from cars in that region, as millions of cows live there.

Back to the post at hand. I've read that it could average $3.00 dollars a night to charge up plugin batteries. That would be equivalent to 50 miles per gallon (assuming 3 dollar gallon gasoline).
I'd be inclined to say - ditch the 5,000 dollar battery packs and run off the 2.0 litre I4 engine generator all of the time.

see your right. no matter what people do, it leaves a footprint? we are at the point where demand of gas exceeds the supply of it. if anyone paid attention in economics, and knows what a non-renewable resource meant, it means trouble. thats why its too little too late.

wow Allistar is an angry dude. All these naysayers bug the hell out of me. Batteries will explode on impact? People said that about LPG, CNG, gasoline, now they are saying it about hydrogen. So the world should be full of static technology? Carburetorred leaded big block V8s and 3 speed autos, right? Fuel injection was supposed to be too expensive and too complicated. Unleaded fuel isn't very good. Diesels are too slow, dirty and noisy. Let's all live in the past everyone.

@ alex, well, no offense, but i prefer the old school cars over todays newer safer and less dirtier. lol. the only advance in 40 years car manufacterers have made is safety standards. im only 21, but i daily drove a '65 mustang, and a '62 galaxie because i think the old cars look sexier. it doesnt matter if my car isnt safe. thats not the point. if my car ever crashed into yours, your gonna die with me. your car may be safer, but the galaxie is all metal. do i dare bring up the law of physics. you will be crushed like me, and dead. dont get me started on horsepower and torque. my '62 galaxie had the same amount of horsepower and torque as a new ford chevy or dodge truck. the only difference was that i had a ford o matic transmission, which was a two speed transmission. it worsen the gas mileage and performance, but i could still keep up with any new truck or car. you can keep your new, gas sipping, tiny cramped car. i will outrun you, and i will have tons more room than you. do you remember the whole bench seats that 60's and 70's cars had? i had that and it was a four door. i can sleep in that car coformtably, can you do that?

@ Allistar - you make some valid points. I have a "68 Galaxie 500 that my family owned from brand new. It has a 325 hp 390ci, 4 barrel, dual exhaust, and C6 auto. I get 20 mpg highway, and 16 city. That isn't far off of current V8's. the new engines are "cleaner", and vehicles safer but are they really better to the environment. "Greens" are saying a plug in has a 50% reduced carbon footprint than a gasoline powered vehicle. I bet that does not include disposing of the harmful toxic wastes in those batteries. We could become vegetarians and half our greenhouse gas production.
All we need is a few more volcanic erruptions, especially ones that spew sulphur. That would take care of global warming.
That gives me an idea for a bumper sticker:
"save the world - nuke a volcano".

Okay this is a little off target here but...

@Nick B. Did you know GE is building and testing a hybrid locomotive as we speak? Pretty much the same concept as Alte's truck. It has a normal 4400hp 4 stroke diesel engine (EMD's use 2 stroke diesel motors - Formerly owned by GM) that feeds an onboard battery packs system which is used to store energy and can be used for short moves without using the diesel or to be used with the diesel (such as going up hills) and gives it an extra 2000hp.

I agree that technology is great but we need to focus on hydrogen. BNSF railway is also testing a hydrogen locomotive in CA.

Allistar I'm sure at some point in my life, years ago, I used to think that way. Then I realized we have crash safety development for a reason. You can have your old Chevy!

@ alex
i eat my words. it was mentioned that the malibu still gets a poor rating. why is that?

@ alex

sorry i forgot to mention this. also, my galaxie did have seat belts, but only for the front. the two people in the back don't have seat belts. do you think this would significantly affect the crash tests have my car been that example?

I'm sure it helps a lot for protecting the occupant from being ejected or slamming in to the dash, but they don't stop the cabin from getting crushed or improve crash dynamics of the car. I think the new Malibu was just supposed to be a modern average example, I don't think it epitomizes safety like Volvo or Mercedes.

@Alex - too bad they had to wreck that classic Bel Air. By the way, Allistar's '62 Galaxie is a Ford. Not that it would of made a difference in that crash test.

This is Raser Technologies all over again. .Fleet electric/gas combo pickups, beat the efficiencies out of econo-box prius. Electric/diesel would be awesome with this battery tech. Shoot, I'll submit my truck to the mods.

You know what would be great. Instead of having a engine help charge a set of batteries and for the batteries to then power the wheels, lets just bypass the batteries give it a bigger gas engine and send power directly to the wheels from the engine... problem solved

^complete sarcasm, love the electric engine moment ;)

When u see a full blown electric truck I'm goin to jump off a building. Not really but come on gas prices wouldn't be so bad if we could have domestic oil. I don't get horrible gas mileage on my '96 Chevy 1500. I just don't see the point of. A electric truck.

BUILD IT!!!! Previous press releases from ALTe say this truck averages 32mpg!

"When u see a full blown electric truck I'm goin to jump off a building. Not really but come on gas prices wouldn't be so bad if we could have domestic oil. I don't get horrible gas mileage on my '96 Chevy 1500. I just don't see the point of. A electric truck."

If it does what a current 1/2 ton V8 does for payload and towing what is the issue? FWIW all signs point to this more than doubling the "not so horrible" mileage you get with your 96 Chevy. Not sure about others but I wouldn't mind keeping my money in my bank account not in my gas tank if this concept works like a truck and isn't priced into the stratosphere.

I read an article in Car & Driver mag about a hybrid that uses an engine to run a hydrulic pump. Pressurized fliud is pumped into a storage resivour. When the accelerator pedal is pressed pressurized fluid is sent to a hydraulic motor that is integral to the rear diff. This drives the vehicle forward. Regeneration is acheived during decel by using the hydralic motor to repressurize the fluid and send it back to the storage resivour. Wouldn`t help much on the hiway but would work pretty good around towns and cities.

Ok I get your point. But I don't know about you,but I don't have the money to buy a new truck. But how worth it is it to get a new "Eco" friendly truck for the money? I would guess for a 1500 brand new versus this electric thing would cost less on the lot and for insurance this is just a guess. I Need that extra capacity or towing plus I beat my trucks up. Now I know every one wants cheaper gas I do! But for now I'll stick with my "not so horrible gas mileage" truck. I get the whole let's save the planet deal but really I don't really think we need to go crazy over finding a solution so fast when we have a nice amount of oil in the US. These rescources are for our use and we are in dominian over the earth so we need to be wise and reshearch and drill to give us te to do that.

First off, I'm not sure how exactly the Tesla Roadster is considered a short range electric with it having a 236 mile range. Granted, I couldn't take it all the way from Dallas to Houston, but I could commute for days without a charge.

Also, I'm not concerned with being green when it comes to Electric cars. I'm more concerned with the world running out of oil. With the most optimistic projections forecasting global oil decline at 2020, I think we need a strong alt energy infrastructure to keep this country a superpower. Frankly, I don't want my kids to grow up with rationing, closed grocery stores, blackouts and the collapse of the economy simply because of delusions that oil would last forever. For our nation to remain strong we are going to have to move past oil.

Boy, it doesn't take long, does it?

Any website you go to that discusses EV or Hybrids and BAM!
The Great Toxic Battery Myth surfaces like clockwork!!

Guys, these batteries are made out of nickel. I guess you haven't eaten off a stainless steel fork lately? Stainless steel has nickel in it.....hardly toxic.

As far as "batteries in landfill" I suppose your existing truck doesn't have a battery? With highly toxic LEAD!!? And there are 230 million on American roads!? But just over 2 million hybrids on the road and now we become environmentalists!!? Please, its a myth, trust me the battery WILL be recycled, and I advocate strong penalties for dumping.

Some utilities are actually offering to buy "dead" hybrid batteries that have lost their power (voltage) long before they've lost their capacity (Kwh's), and they use then to back up WIND and SOLAR power. Which kind of takes the air out of the argument that those won't work because "the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow".

As far as charging is concerned, it will NOT lead to are supposed to charge overnight, when the grid has lots of spare capacity. There is enough idle capacity just in this country's nuke plants to "fuel" 100 million plug-in cars. So, this truck is basically "nuclear powered"!!

A series hybrid is the way to go. If any of you don't think so, explain why all navy submarines and locomotives work this way.

I am confused why towing power went down. I think they are using a wimpy electric motor, probably to conserve the battery. i say more powerful motor and battery (or capacitor!) I think 1000 lb-fit should be easy to do. Remember, electric gets 100% torque at 0 rpm, not a typo, 0 rpm

I re-read the article and stand corrected.

They use Lithium battery. Slight toxicity, still WAY less than the lead-ACID in your pickup truck RIGHT NOW...and still recyclable. You'd be insane not to recycle Lithium or Nickel with today's commodity prices. If you were dumb enough to dump it, guarantee someone will 'dumpster dive' to sell it on black market.

Another myth is that emissions are equal because coal is used to make the electricity. But coal plants don't run at night, it'll be mainly nuke, wind and hydro. And even if it IS coal, I'd rather burn American coal than Arab oil in my truck!!

"let's assume it comes 100% from COAL, it
s STILL much cleaner than gasoline produced from petroleum!"

(and I think it is talking about dirty coal, not clean coal).

@ Scorpion - good points, since you are into dispelling myths - most of the fuel burned in the USA comes from domestic production. Next is Canada,Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and then Mexico.
Problem is by 2020 - 64% of US oil will have to be imported.
Most experts feel that the bulk of oil "reserves" are in the Middle East. That would explain the heavy US military presence in the region.
46% of vehicles on US roads are light trucks and SUV's. These vehicles consume 10% of world oil supplies.
We are eventually going to need that Arab oil. Look on the bright side - global warming is melting the Northern Icecap, and once it's gone billions of gallons of oil will be found in the Arctic sea bed.

Here is a simple and informative site:

.Remember, electric gets 100% torque at 0 rpm, not a typo, 0 rpm
/ quote

thats incorecto,Sean,as powerful the electric motor is ,
it needs to be TURNING to make ANY power wouldnt you say?
and at 0 rpm nothing can happen!
maybe 1 rpm?

I love this idea. I will be buying one.

Bob B-B-B-Bob? is that you? b-b-but it's in a Ford!!!!!!
must be a different Bob - the Bob that likes Honda.

Greetings. I am delighted to participate in this forum! The future is here! It is not a matter of if e-pick up trucks come on the scene but how soon. I commend each and every manufacturer and aftermarket company that actively supports this concern. We are taking a beating at the gas pumps and choking ourselves in the process. Enough already! GOD Bless!

Where's my diesel electric vehicle? Or my Bio-fuel electric?

I am all up for this but the fact is if it doesn't have the pulling power its useless to those who actually need a pick up. And I am talking about the farmers and ranchers of america, the construction workers, not your weekend hobbyist who really don't have to have a truck. The simple fact is if they cant get an electric truck to do exactly what modern gas powered trucks do then it will fail and those who use these for a living will continue to use Gas powered vehicles. I mean what is the point of a rancher buying a truck that can't haul our a trailer loaded down with hay to feed his live stock. Would a carpenter be able to work if he can't load his truck down with lumber and tools. Also lets talk about the weekend user of trucks, I go camping in my truck out to the middle of no where, how exactly will I be able to charge my truck over the weekend? at some point it becomes a giant paper weight. Now if you offered something like a solar powered generator with you to charge the battery so you can actually make it back home when your on the beaten path that would be great, but it seems very unrealistic. I think the technology for a Truly green Pick up is years down the road, until then these gas powered vehicles are here to stay.


The F150 is still too big to fit in my garage. I currently drive a Toyota 1992 3/4 ton. I get up to 36.9 mpg on highway driving 55 mph. Every 5 mph more decreases efficiency by another 2-3 mpg.
I drive 20 miles round trip to work and an occasional 60 miles to pick up/deliver wood items that I manufacture.
What could you do for me as far as an ev truck?

I log about 20 miles a day on the sand. I challenge any manufacturer for a electric/hybrid pickup truck to allow me to test it in my environment.

Electric has a torque advantage, plus the transmission becomes simpler or non-existent. I believe the real challenge was improving battery technology to the point that it became economical (weight and initial cost-wise) to install this in a light vehicle. Engines hit a peak for efficiency at a certain RPM. This allows it to run ONLY at that ideal point - therefore, no losses due to idling/running at points in the RPM range off-peak.

To the ppl saying that this is not an electric...The gas engine is only used to recharge the battery if it dies. It doesn't drive the car.

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