Are Americans Ready For An All-Electric Pickup Truck?

electric-pickup-truckTesla CEO Elon Musk hints that an electric pickup truck may be a future possibility

Tesla has taken the world by storm by offering three ground breaking, all electric models – the Tesla S, X, and Roadster. These automobiles combine real design elegance, robust engineering, and an all-electric drivetrain that equals zero tailpipe emissions and no more trips to the gas pump. These vehicles have differentiated themselves from other electric models on the market today by offering real driving range. In fact, the model S with an 85kW battery pack has a driving range of between 265 – 300 miles, depending on the specific driving characteristics. With multiple automotive publications touting the Tesla Model S as a “car of the year” or “innovation of the decade,” Tesla has fired a serious shot across the bow of any car company that fails to innovate over the coming years. But what about those who need (or simply want) a pickup truck to drive around in? Tesla may have an answer to that.

Pickup truck sales are on the rise, but still off the pre-recession high of 3-million units

As Americans, we love our pickup trucks. It may be that we need the hauling capacity or the big cargo bed behind the cab. Or we might just like the fact that you sit way up high and have a commanding view of the road. No matter the real reason, pickup truck owners love their trucks, and many wouldn’t be seen driving a passenger car even though these smaller vehicles offer fuel economy that may save a pickup driver hundreds of dollars per month. Pickup truck drivers have had to settle for more costly diesel-powered pickup trucks to gain the balance of power and economy demanded by today’s consumer. The problem is, even diesel-powered trucks that are considered economical by today’s standards have a hard time breaking the 20 miles per gallon threshold – hardly the kind of economy that will foster loyalty among pickup drivers.

Enter the electric motor. Tesla Motors has found a way to build and integrate highly-sophisticated electric motors into their cars and the results are making history. Being able to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on one charge – and not a drop of fuel, is ground breaking. But pickup truck owners don’t just care about range. They need the kind of power that is normally found under the hood of large pickup trucks – namely gas V-8’s or turbocharged, diesel inline-6’s or V-8s. It is in this area that the idea of an electric motor in a pickup truck makes sense. Electric motors make prodigious levels of torque, and most of this torque is available the second you put your foot on the accelerator. Gasoline or diesel motors must work through their RPM range before maximum horsepower and torque is realized. Electric motors do not.

Many pickup truck owners also use their trucks for work, or on designated routes. This is perfect for an all-electric vehicle as the distances driven will usually be quite consistent. Current pickup trucks are limited in terms of how much additional power they can deliver while still maintaining sufficient fuel economy. Electric-motored pickup trucks wouldn’t have this issue, as the power levels are already beyond what most typical pickups offer and the ability to add battery packs or introduce new, more efficient battery designs will be much easier than trying to extract more from an internal combustion engine.

Americans love their pickup trucks, but we also appreciate the ability to operate our vehicles for far less cost than a comparable gas or diesel model. Electric vehicles, especially those from innovative maker Tesla, have shown the world that electric vehicles aren’t toys – they are real means of transportation that will find an even greater foothold in the competitive automotive market. Pickup trucks will most certainly be the next player in this exciting field.