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Tesla's Future in Pickup Trucks

One of the reasons for the Model S's surprising speed is the torque that comes their electric motor. They have hinted that they might open a plant in Texas to make trucks, but what is the probability of that? The motors have the horsepower and the torque, but would your typical truck guy accept an electric to be on par, if not better than a F-150, Silverado, etc.? Tesla is making gains in extending the super charger network, and the truck idea is still far enough in the future, but how do you think Tesla will win over the truck market?

Demo tug-of-wars?

An electric truck could easily be made to have a LOT more torque than any ICE (even diesel) truck nowadays.

I am not sure if you have seen the specs for the new Chevrolet Spark, but that little econo-box car has 400lb-ft of torque. Compare that to the 2013 Ford F-250 6.2Litre V8, and you will see it only has a peak of 405lb-ft of torque (Which you have to rev the engine up to 4500RPM to get to, so starting from a stop means the transmission is taking the brunt of the punishment to get as much of that to the wheels as possible).

In an electric motor, the full torque value is avaialable from 0 RPM, so you get full torque from a dead stop. Eletric trucks will easily out-torque their ICE competitiors.

I think they will have the same battle all over again that they had in the car market. At first, everyone will be skeptical (rightfully so, since it will seem like they are using some sort of magic trick to get all that power without all the noise, smoke, and bravado an ICE provides) but once the people who get it buy theirs, and they see them in the real world, they will catch on.

As much as I'd love an electric powered pickup truck, I think there are three things that must be overcome before it'll become mainstream - 1) Price, 2) Price, and 3) Price.

Gardners, pool men, local deliveries; these people are using very inefficient gas guzzlers and worse case scenario: stop & go ALL DAY LONG. It seems to me that they would benefit the most. I have a 20 mile commute (one way) and I save $250+ a month (gas vs electricity). They could easily save $500 a month!

That's a lot of coin towards a monthly payment.

Tesla wants to usher in a new era on cars, and they're focussing on making higher end cars to start with (where the extra costs are less obvious) and making sure the car is a BETTER experience for 90% of people who want that kind of car. They're doing great, the car "makes sense", and most people don't drive huge miles and for people concerned about sometimes needing more miles they have superchargers. They also need to focus on just a few models so they can get their economies of scale.

But you're right that if there was a way to easily focus on people who regularly drive 150 miles a day, that would be quite a sweet spot. SolarCity does a no-cost-upfront solar electricity system linked to a user's regular energy bill, and if a car driver did 150miles a day an electric car can be better value very easily. One of the companies Tesla used to sell battery technology to used to bill for a monthly battery rental to offset upfront costs.

Interesting to advertise the Model-S or X to "anybody who re-fuels 2-3 times a week." Might get some attention (and anyone who refuels daily is not a target yet), as it'll be more cost effective. And it'll show how the car acts under heavy use.

Still I'm not sure the 150mile assumption works with gardners, pool men etc, to get the effective lower price. I see a lot of local pool men who spend an hour cleaning the pool, then drive a few miles to work another hour - which isn't going to get to 150miles a day. Also part of the "better than ICE cars" has been calculated in conjunction with drag, weight etc - lower the regen and the total miles will decrease significantly. It may still balance effectively but it'd want a recalculation and repositioning, changed battery sweet spots, it's not a simple 'win' and the last thing you want is dissatisfied customers.

"but how do you think Tesla will win over the truck market?"

Easily

with the average current full size pick up getting a dismal 12-15 mpg, Tesla will not be able to make them fast enough.

Low mpg doesn't mean anything if initial price is so much higher that you can drive 10+ years from difference. Battery tech needs to get better before pickup makes sense.

@Timo

Tesla trucks with 100mpg and 200 mile range . . . seems like a business's dream come true.

I would buy a crew cab shortbed mid size truck on the X chassis right now if they offered it.

Not looking for a full on truck replacement just want to be able to carry items in the bed rather than inside the car.

@SamoSam

That 200 mile range costs currently over $30k of batteries. With that $30k you can buy a lot of gas/diesel.

Timo,

I can make my own electricity. I can't make my own gas or diesel. Went solar and battery cars 4 years ago because I got tired of being a sucker and paying for over priced crude oil knowing the money was going to Islamo nut jobs that want to kill me .

Make 100 percent of the electricity to run my house and charge three battery cars from the panels on my roof. Even with that I sell a little excess back to the utility.

Pretty amazing that it is possible to be totally energy independent using just the sun that lands on your roof. The Tesla finally made battery cars that actually will work for a wide range of transportation needs.

It makes a lot of sense once you already have it, problem is that initial price. That needs to go down before pickup makes sense. Pickup is not aerodynamic which reduces range, and as utility vehicle it can't be very lightweight or have low rolling resistance tires either. That reduces range and as result raises cost of practical range car.

It takes just time. Right now is not the right time, but few years from now situation might be completely different.

Give it time. 1/2 ton pickups with battery only option are going to happen. Many people will still want the rumble of the engine, like my neighbors' who drive modified diesels. They are you and use 10 mpg trucks to commute to school or low paying jobs. A utility EV truck is perfect for mid western farmers who may also have a solar array up on their farm. Via Motors has some models nearing production and they are EREV style, like the Volt.

"They are you" means They are used to driving 10mpg trucks to...

That's what I'm saying: Give it time. Not now doesn't necessarily mean not ever.

I think range would be a huge issue for an EV truck. In order to be able to haul heavy things, and tow capacity and whatnot, you need a more re-inforced body structure which usually results in a much heavier vehicle. Add onto that, the extra weight of the batteries and even an 85kwh battery pack isnt going to give a lot of range.

I think its going to require some battery breakthroughs before an EV truck to take the place of a "workhorse" ICE truck is going to be feasible. I have no doubt that it will eventually "work," but I dont see it happening soon.

The majority of the four wheel drive trucks in Arizona never see a dirt road, tow anything or haul any cargo.

The initial market for a battery truck would be people that prefer the truck body style and look. Probably a real work truck would have to be a hybrid to ever replace actual truck functionality. But a hybrid truck with enough batteries to run decent battery only would be pretty functional.

I have heard that in Delaware, there is a shop that will convert existing Ford F-150s to Electric (in small number). Nothing like a production model from anyone ever would do - but at least someone out there is making electric trucks "happen" now while the bigger firms figure out how to do it.

@4rhansen

No doubt, that would have to be the original intention. Just as a body style and not an actual WORK vehicle. Good enough for a very LIGHT amount of hauling if need be. It could still be useful IMO :)

Nissan thinks they can do a van.
http://green.autoblog.com/2013/09/11/nissan-e-nv200-electric-van-in-fina...

They'll also soon make a light truck. It'll be interesting to see the range and trade-offs etc.

Back in the beginning of July I was looking at the Model X and liking it, but it doesn't suit my needs. My 3 kids are grown and I hardly ever have more than 1 passenger... So I grabbed an image from the site and manipulated it. Here is a later version:

Suddenly the automotive designer in me was woken up, and for the past couple of months I've been working on various concepts for Tesla Motors, uploading images to a new "Concepts" album on my Google Plus account. One guy saw them and asked if I had a four-door version of what I call the 'XT' -- so I came up with the 'XTX':

Where the XT is a straightforward pickup conversion of the Model X, the XTX is a rather complex utility coupe (with falcon-wing doors) that can be temporarily transformed into a pickup. The only thing remotely similar (that I know of) is Toyota's 2007 A-BAT concept.

The XTX is weird, and would be expensive. The XT on the other hand would be a great way for Tesla Motors to enter the truck market. But, it's not a 'real' truck...

Will American-style pickups be Gen4? I think so, and their platform(s) could be used for any variety of light commercial vehicles.

I would love one but it is impossible due to price issues. I just bought a brand new Ford F-150 full size pickup (2wd) with an 8 foot bed for $19,250 on the road, with taxes and tags. It has an ecoboost engine and gets 22 mpg, used by employees in our oyster business. It has a black grille, rubber floors and crank windows, but does have air conditioning and a radio, and is basic as they come today. But LESS than $20k on the road!

Economies of scale make competing in the pickup arena very difficult. I also own an F150 Platinum 4wd that is as evolved a truck as it gets, mostly for towing - costs over $55k. The TM skateboard format is technically conducive - a pickup bed is a perfect place under which to place the battery. However, it would require a battery well over 85kwh because a credible pickup must be able to tow and carry lots of weight. That would price it close to $100k or more, similar to the S. A few of us might bite, but general acceptance would be a nonstarter. On average, pickup truck buyers are monthly payment oriented Wal-Mart shoppers, not EV buyers. With that said, our S is often seen in Wal-Mart parking lots and bubbas seem to like it.

IF PRODUCED, the XT would be less expensive than the Model X. However it would also be lighter, therefore quicker, so one imagines a lot of buyers would go for the Performance option...

In Australia it would compete with performance versions of the Holden and Ford Falcon utes. Don't ask me what those cost, but they're not bought by people who use them as trucks very much. Think El Camino SS...

But don't think an XT wouldn't be useful. Just, it's still comparatively expensive, so wouldn't be competing for market share. As with the Model S, the problem would be building enough to meet demand.

AND I think the same will hold true for Gen4, the American-style pickup. Yes they will be expensive, but there will be plenty of buyers. You have to weigh purchase price against operating cost -- and against a 3rd factor, longevity. Imagine buying a truck that will last the rest of your life, possibly to be passed down from generation to generation.

Or if you're a fleet owner, imagine not having to replace your fleet every so often, because you've finally found a brand of truck that will stand up to the years and miles.

We can complain all we want about relative affordability, but "you get what you pay for". The market is there, so it's just a matter of being able to meet demand.

FYI, you do know the El Camino ,FORD Ranchero and similar pick ups were make to skirt the USA car pollution laws. Those (trucks) were exempt. Also until 2011 all trucks had a different standard and could make more pollution but that law just changed!

Truck makers may need a Tesla T truck to make CAFE standards and pass emissions!

http://theenergycollective.com/luketonachel/62703/obama-finalizing-first...

First-Ever Pollution Standards For Trucks

The Tuesday announcement marks the finalization of rules that were initiated in May 2010 to cover model years 2014 to 2018. The truck standards are the third of a series of vehicle efficiency and carbon pollution improvements that also includes two sets of standards for cars and light trucks that will reach 35.5 mpg in 2016 and 54.5 mpg in 2025. Collectively, the car and truck standards comprise the National Program for vehicle efficiency and are a giant step toward reaching President Obama’s goal of cutting oil imports by one-third by 2025 and for reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.

Tesla should build a monster truck to go against Bigfoot. The EV burst of speed off of the line would be a huge advantage in such a short race.

Indulgences in Monster Stupidity are not on the cards.

Bigfoot #20 is electric.

Kind of low power one though.

I am planning a 16-20 kW solar system to power an MS (and long ago ordered MX), selling excess to grid. I have a 94 acre ranch in San Diego and 5,000 sq. ft. agricultural building roof to put panels on. My goal is to be 100% off grid - especially given our particular power company burned my house down 6 years ago (but don't get me started on that). Also have two 10K gallon water tanks and well pump with separate solar system. But, I have horses. It would seem the target market for electric truck would be truck people who need a F-250 plus to tow heavy things, especially given that these trucks get the lowest mpg and they are not cheap! I paid $65K for an F-350 crew cab diesel to tow my horse trailers and I HAVE to keep it. It is the only thing keeping me 100% off grid. It seems targeting the horsey set or construction/businesses that can depreciate should be target market, not people who just want to sit higher in an F-150 or mini truck.


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