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Tesla Pickup Truck

There was a post recently by someone suggesting that Tesla should aim for adding some serious truck to their portfolio. The post was going into quite a bit of detail why that person thought that an electric truck would be a good idea, and what he thought would be the minimum requirements. Unfortunately, I cannot find that post or thread any more. If someone else remembers, please post the link here!

In any case, it seems that such a suggestion is not entirely out of bounds:

The Tesla platform, which locates the batteries in a 10cm-high stack below the cabin floor, offers plenty of flexibility. “There are lots of ways in which we can exploit the platform,” said Von Holzhausen. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pick-up. That’s a market for which the torque of an electric motor would be ideally suited.”
http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/tesla%E2%80%99s-electric-3-se...

Problem with pickup trucks are the weight and low aerodynamics requiring larger battery. You want large battery also if you want to carry any significant cargo because the cuts the range even further. High energy consumption = long recharging times.

Maybe in the future, but I put pickups at the borderline where hydrogen fuel cell starts to make more sense than batteries. You might want faster refill as well as lower cost of hydrogen tanks, because you don't want the cost or need the power you will get from the battery of that size. You still want the electric motor, because that is way better at delivering the power than any ICE.

My 2 or 3 trips a month to Home Depot is all I need for my current Nissan Frontier. That's 20 miles round trip. Ocassionally I will drive out to the Soaring Club. That's about 70 miles round trip. A quarter ton with a 40 kwh battery would be more than enough for those chores. The pack should easily fit under a 4x6 bed. Using the same construction techniques as the Model S, I would assume a curb weight quite a bit less as the S. With a no-frills cab, the price should be quite reasonable as well.

Hydrogen fuel cells will never make any sense because you use about five times the energy to produce the hydrogen as you get out of it. It's better to use the energy directly and skip making the hydrogen.

Amusingly, if the GVW restrictions on pickups were actually enforced, they'd never be allowed to carry more than a few bags of potatoes. I think there's one model on the road that exceeds its allowance empty!

Hydrogen can be produced in many ways, some of them smarter than others. True, the cheapest methods are also quite ineffective, but some of them do not waste energy like that. Real problem with hydrogen is not the production but transfer and storage. Hydrogen molecule is small, really small, it just goes right thru most materials if given enough time.

There are also fuel cells that work on liquids like methanol. Way better for fuel, but unfortunately also less efficient than hydrogen ones at cell level. Costs are also higher there.

Even microbial fuel cells exist. You better have green thumb with those :-) (that would make "green vehicle" in whole new level of green). Seriously though, these are very interesting form of fuel cells, you could get electricity out by literally growing stuff.

Goal is to gain efficiency of ICE without oil byproducts and get to use of electric engines. Electric motor is the key here, how and where the energy comes is not that important. Batteries just plain make more sense for small passenger cars.

I liked Elon's comment in the video.

"I don't really know, because the math is so super-obviously in favor of batteries, that it's like staring facts in the face and saying they're not true.

If you take the best-case scenario for a fuel cell -- assume it's fully optimized, so you envelope it from a physics standpoint, and give it the best-case situation -- how does that compare to state-of-the-art lithium-ion, or current lithium-ion in production? It loses.

So it's like, success is not one of the possible outcomes, why embark upon that? It's crazy.

I think they felt for a long time that there was this need to be doing something, and since fuel cells were 10 years in the future and always would be, then they could always say that they were working on fuel cells, and that would always satisfy people. "

A pickup truck?? I'd much rather see them come out with a replacement for the Roadster, only more affordable. With the "skateboard" chassis configuration, that should be a simple adaptation.

Tesla229;
A Roadster is going to be a fun niche market. A pick-up could maybe sell '00s of times as many.

"Refillable" battery substitutes, in e.g. battlefield conditions, are cases where fuel cells are easy winners. By extension, laptops that take a shot of methanol instead of recharging for hours.

Large-scale versions get very pricey per Watt-hour, though.

That's amazing... and Tesla's pickup will be so much better on top of even that! :-)
http://green.autoblog.com/2012/07/16/bob-lutz-and-his-volt-like-truck-vi...

It really strikes me how they kid that they need to burn the gas that they have in the tanks of their Volts before it gets old -- or drain the tank. And yet they are so full of "hybrid is the way to go and batteries just don't cut it". BS.

A new roadster is going to need the gen III skateboard. I doubt a roadster as wide as the S and X makes much sense.

My top 10 reasons why a Tesla truck is exactly what I want:

1. daily driver to work; less than 10 miles roundtrip and only needs to transport one person, which brings me to #2
2. I believe most people who buy an EV have another car in their household so the truck doesn't need to seat 4+ people
3. pure EV, zero emission
4. ability to haul things that would not fit in a car (4x8' plywood, yard waste bags, other construction materials, etc.)
5. would probably look awesome
6. Less seats, doors, interior materials, etc. so potentially lower cost than Model S or X
7. Since the battery would likely be in the 'floor' of the truck bed the rear wheels would get more traction (from even weight distribution) than an ICE truck so AWD may not be a necessity.
8. Americans love trucks
9. There's essentially 0 competition in the EV truck market
10. And all other reasons for owning an EV

How about a Tesla pickup truck with a 5th wheel for towing a Tesla RV? Another double thick and much bigger battery pack under the RV and solar panels on top for all the electrical backup and conveniences of home including electric washer, dryer, stove, oven, microwave, shower etc. Plus the wheels under RV are passively pulled and perhaps Elon could engineer them to recapture rolling energy. Don't forget to include an electric battery powered wrench.
The Tesla RV could also be an electrical backup for the pickup truck because of its much bigger storage capacity, maybe as much as four times greater electrical storage capacity, possibly allowing over 600 miles of travel a day with charge left for appliances.
But the most intriguing aspect of this setup is that a nationwide electric recharging system already exists at KOA and other RV sites in case it's cloudy and the solar roof on the Tesla RV can't keep up the recharge on the double thick and big battery packs under the RV. It might also make Toyota happy since I believe they supply battery components.

Could work. "Capture rolling energy" is just for braking, regen, tho'. Anything else is just adding unprofitable drag (costs more than you get back).

But note that that "double thick" battery is likely to cost almost as much on its own as an entire S or X (any body style).

nate.loftsgard, your #8 and 9 should be #1 and 2

I just wrote a post in another thread in which I talked about the Tesla pick-up truck, and which I will re-post. But first, answering Timo about poor truck aerodynamics: I agree, but Tesla's creativity and talent could find a neat solution to greatly reduce the drag coefficient of a truck at least part of the time, such as when nothing is in the box. After all, the shape is already long and streamlined, but incomplete because the stream is broken along part of the length. A possible solution might be a roof that can unroll to cover the box with a nice curve between the top of the cab to the top of the tail gate, which should also be improved. Basically the shape of a pick-up truck has long been assumed to have to be such and such, so whether not that is true, changing the shape to improve aerodynamics could be risky regarding functionality and customer acceptance. This is why the best might be to research the question to find out what type of shapes and changes are welcome and avoid what will not work with potential owners. Also, about the need for aerodynamics, I think some people drive far and fast with pick-ups, but many rarely do. Most would nonetheless appreciate the amazing torque the Tesla truck could provide, along with other innovations I describe below.

Here is the relevant part of that earlier post I mentioned, with a few edits:

I am increasingly convinced that it would make a lot of sense for Tesla to introduce a revolutionary premium pick-up truck, next. It should have incredible and legendary torque and performance, sufficient to make the monster pick-up trucks in Ford commercials look like horse buggies in comparison. The Tesla truck should literally be able to lift locomotives, or at least something similarly impressive. Maybe lift a bunch of Ford F-250's while carrying tons of cargo in the box? Maybe a single Tesla pick-up should easily win at tug-o-war against a team of the meanest pick-ups the competition has to offer. It's okay if it costs over $100,000, at least a few people will have to have it if it can do all that.

It should also offer tremendous convenience and practicality, in part with standard 110 volt and/or 120 volt sockets hidden under a tail light which can be used to power tools on the job where the grid isn't yet operational, essential home appliances like freezers and refrigerators during power outages, and whatever requires power while camping or at remote work sites. This would be a very simple, clean, economical, and appealing alternative to gas-electric generators. To make all this practical and to remain in line with the truck philosophy and lifestyle, the battery pack would need to be available in augmented formats, perhaps 120 kWh or greater.

Also, like in the models S and X, the pick-up allows for maximum cargo and passenger opportunity space since there is no bulky ICE-related components, so although I cannot quite imagine it, I trust that Tesla can redefine the pick-up truck in terms of what it allows people to do, perhaps with options regarding extra seating versus extra cargo space in the box. Also, maybe it could be made easier to climb into by lowering the height or offering a retractable ladder/stair at the back. Lowering the height of the box floor relative to the ground, if considered desirable, need not come at the expense of high ground clearance, perhaps higher than for other trucks. Perhaps air suspension like on the model S that can raise or lower the vehicle as desired could be the solution, as long as it does not introduce a weak link that the huge traction might risk breaking.

At the risk of becoming unpopular with all those people eagerly awaiting the Bluestar, I believe that the pick-up truck, since it would be another premium model meant to grab the attention and challenge the assumptions of another segment of die-hard ICE believers and EV doubters, should be introduced next and fairly soon, so before the Bluestar. This will further enhance Tesla's brand and image, not to mention the technology, which will ultimately make the Bluestar an even bigger hit when it arrives. The truck's fame could add to the Tesla brand, which could increase demand for an affordable Tesla car, and enable total mass-production of a Bluestar that uses proven technology, which will go a long way in lowering the cost and therefore the price of the car of the people.

I'm actually not fully convinced that the pick-up truck should come before the Bluestar, but I suspect that building an ultra-powerful and highly-versatile truck is somewhat more attainable than a very affordable car of the people, at present. Seems to me the former is more of a design than a technology challenge, whereas the latter is more complex because it requires very large volumes to succeed, which could mean high risks if there are problems. Ideally, I think they should both be released within a year or two of each other, but resources are a limiting factor of course.

Great post TeslaRocks...I also said in another thread that it would be good for Tesla to create a car that gets some real buzz.
I like your pickup ads that would show the Tesla outpulling a team of other ICE pickups. That would get people talking!
My idea was for them to produce a run of 100 "super sport" roadsters (before they had stopped production). This version would out accelerate the current 0-60mph champ, the Bugatti Veyron at 2.3 secs, all for 1/5th of the price of the Bugatti.
I just thought it would get Tesla on the front of a lot if magazines which would generate a lot of publicity for the Tesla brand.

I believe it is vital for Tesla to establish itself as THE global leader in the premium EV market now before other more established brands start coming for Tesla's current niche.
Let's be honest if BMW and Tesla produced similar EV's would you buy the Tesla or the BMW? Okay maybe not us because we are fans but which brand do you think the average person would buy?
People are slaves when it comes to brands and reliability track records when it comes to buying a high priced item that you will likely own for 10+ years.
Tesla won't have a track record most people will trust for another 5-10 years...so they have to go for something else...a brand image that paints them as the best of the best in the EV biz. I wrote another thread about how Tesla's slogan could be "All electric, all the time"...because no other ICE manufacturer will be able to claim that they are 100% EV specialists...not for a very long time anyway.

I think Tesla's needs to get into people's heads that they are the "Rolls Royce" of the EV industry.
I think your idea of the pickup truck ads would be something that will stick in people's minds and make them think "Tesla rocks!"

Similarly if they produced a world beater Roadster, that could smoke ANYTHING with an ICE, it would get people chatting about the brand...and this is more valuable for the future of the company long term.

Again, great post.

I agree Tesla should produce a pickup, but first things first.

Model S variants (AWD and Convertible) run of 2k each - Late 2013, MS price + $10K
Model X 10k to 12k per year - Early 2014, Similar to MS prices
Model R 2k per year - Late 2014, $80k +
Model R Super Sport (Veyron killer) 200 per year - early 2015, ~$200k
Model C aka Gen III 100k per year - late 2015, $30k +
Model T aka Tesla pickup 10k per year - 2016, $45k +

Fl;
Model R will be based on and follow Model C.

@Brian H

Did they announce that would be the case? My thinking would be that more expensive Model R would be produced first to help bring costs down for Model C. This is of course a thoughtful guess as I do not work at TM and do not have a crystal ball.

Additionally the regular Model R could be aluminum so could be sold for 80k with great performance features, Super Sport gets carbon fiber everything and engineering overkill, Model R on steroids...

I think that in time, as technology improves, maybe with the new roadster on the gen3 platform I keep hearing about in these forums, Tesla will get the ultimate performance crown as you say. For now I think they've mostly established that with the roadster and model S and any further effort in that direction of acceleration would not be cost effective currently or as a pure effort. Showing the truck people that electric can be better, now that would get people talking, in my opinion, and it could allow for another lucrative division or model that would provide a steady stream of income to help finance the gen3, along with non-financial help like technology and brand power. So I think that in time doing the world's fastest car by far would be fairly easy, and while we're at it, it could be a F1 car that could compete in races and further enhance Tesla's brand to the expanding circle of people in the know, until everyone is convinced. But for now, F1 racing is just crazy irrelevance given Tesla's limited resources and other priorities.

To be clear, although what I drecribed sounds like an ad because it would be a correction to Ford's ads, I actually am not a big fan of traditional television car ads. I wish Tesla to continue its internet marketing format, so perhaps a demonstation could be staged and posted on YouTube and maybe it will go viral... all at a ridicously low cost. It's the future, Tesla is part of it, car ads are mostly obsolete because a good car should sell itself.

Okay, if Tesla is watching, here is the plan, as per teddyg and me:
-keep ramping up model S and lowering cost, creating profitable revenue stream;
-begin manufacturing model X;
-design and introduce a kick-ass pick-up truck as described above that will open up that market, creating another profitable segment;
-go big on the gen3, design and introduce and aim for total mass market invasion, take no hostages;
-from that gen3 platform, design and introduce the most kick-ass sports car, F1 or whatever, ever seen or dreamed of by anyone who ever lived... no matter the price tag, as long as the project pays for itself, so the number produced will probably be extremely low and their use equally specific.

So I happen to think model C/gen3/bluestar should come before a new model R, mainly because the latter has already been done somewhat and redoing it before the "volkwagen" could risk:
1-dissipating interest in Tesla
2-fuel the critics that Tesla only makes cars for the rich.

A premium pick-up walks a similar fine line, especially if introduced before the C, that is why the C should be ready to be introduced shortly after (no more than 6 months to a year after the pick-up)... even if the ramp up is long and initial rate is low. I do think the pick-up will need to be premium, same reasons as every other model that is designed and needs to prove itself. As a premium model, I believe it should come early on. I think premium models should come first, before the popular/economical models, for obvious reasons. Add to the above list, at the end, an electric city bus.

@TeslaRocks

Think they would need to successfully do a standard van then a big Sprinter like van before going into buses.

We will see what they come up with... Maybe they read our speculation and chuckle....

I was thinking, a Tesla truck with weight concentrated in the skateboard, thus very low center of gravity, could probably climb "walls" of 45 degrees or steeper. Maybe it could do it while towing something, like a Ford truck that is being dragged in a tug-o-war.

Also, if a team of trucks from the competition should compete in a tug-o-war against the almighty Tesla truck that remains to be invented, it could start with the model T vs the top-selling pick-up (Ford F-series), which the T should win easily, then add the next selling pick-up (Chevy Silverado), again T must come on top, then add a Dodge Ram, and so on until the T finds its match.
http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/03/usa-best-selling-pickup-trucks-febr...

Should be entertaining to watch.

And then only idiots will still argue that the ICE is better.

Needless to say, the model T will probably need more than one gear (drive gear and tow gear, at least). I think traction will be the limiting factor, so weight will be important, and low center of gravity will be an advantage when towing and competing in tog-o-wars. Ideally the truck could be raised like the model S so that you could take a drive through the most ridiculously rough off-road terrain, no problem. Boy it will be a beast.

@TeslaRocks +1
@teddyg +1

I agree a kick ass truck would be fantastic. And imagine a truck you can bring to a track day event and actually have fun while giving the opponents a hard time. :)

The batteries will give even a hirisen truck handling like a sport car.
Low center of gravity, big ass torque and the ability to pull a trailer, plow a field or crush all known ICE trucks in any events. That would make front pages and covers world wide.

If it were roughly the size of a Holden UTE, Tesla would have a winner.

I know this is not technically a pickup truck, but the EV truck idea has been around for many years:
http://www.estar-ev.com/
and before that, the Modec (same truck) in Europe.

Apparently, Fedex and Coca Cola are using these. Wikipedia says they use a 80kWh battery made by... A123... (hmmmm). Also the list price appears to be around $150K (I am sure TSLA can beat that).

That's a big market that I think Tesla should consider, and those fleet customers are more eager to enter into large lease deals. Electric utility companies to me are the biggest no-brainer, all their vehicles should be electric.

Oh yes, and to get more back on topic, the Navistar EV (or a scaled-down version) is more like I picture an electric pickup truck looking since it would not need a frunk.

This is a follow-up to my own post since the board does not allow edits.

Another company quietly manufacturing and selling a lot of EV trucks is Smith Electric:
http://www.smithelectric.com/smith-vehicles/

PorFirioR,

Interesting post on Smith Electric trucks. No doubt EV's are perfect for local/citywide P&D (Pickup & Delivery), because of low daily miles, and the same start & start point for overbite delivery. I was surprised how much weight these medium duty EV trucks could haul, 15,000+ lbs. Although I wish they would have show more battery pictures and battery weights.

If someone next could produce a shout haul heavy duty EV truck that could pull 45,000 lbs+ & go 150 miles then I see another application, hauling box containers off international container ships. This is short shuttle work, trucking the containers 5-10 miles off the ships and away from harbor congestion into holding yards for later pickup & delivery. Long Beach Harbor in Los Angeles California is one such area where this heavy truck congestion creates a lot of smog, which they very much want to eliminate.

Another heavy duty, EV truck application is local citywide LTL (less than truckload) P&D delivery of bulky items, multiple pallets, heavy items, etc. These are hauled in pups (28 ft trailers) brought into the city and dropped off by OTR (over the road) drivers, for delivery by city drivers. ABF, Yellow, & Roadway are a couple of truck firms who could benefit from a Heavy Haul Short Distance EV Truck. I'm sure they would love the maintenance and fuel savings, which I believe Fred Smith of FedEx has put at 50-70%.

As for Tesla, I definitely see them doing pickups & vans on the MS & GenIII platforms when the time is right. The other trucks/types are more of a specialty market.


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