Elon Musk has tapped into what could be a deal-closer to bring gas-guzzlers over the line.
In a tweet last week he asked followers, “What would you love to see in a Tesla pickup truck?” (that’s the American for ute).
It’s not the first time Musk has talked about making a truck, with the earliest noises being made back in July 2016 when intern Jason McGinnity released sketches for a concept ‘Tesla Allterrain’ vehicle.
“I have a few things in mind, but what do you think are small, but important nuances & what would be seriously next level?”
What would you love to see in a Tesla pickup truck? I have a few things in mind, but what do you think are small, but important nuances & what would be seriously next level?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 26, 2018
The question drew a series of rapid responses, with followers calling for increased range (an obvious request, no doubt for those who want to go off-road), adjustable suspension (standard says Musk), to electric back windshields and an uncrushable roof (which the Model S apparently already has).
A very strong roof that far exceeds NHTSA standards on roof crush.
— Adam L. Penenberg (@Penenberg) June 26, 2018
One true blue, green thinking Aussie however, got to the heart of it: “Pickup? Mate. I wanna see a Tesla Ute mate.”
Pickup? Mate. I wanna see a Tesla Ute mate.
Something that’s tough enough to haul a pig to market on Saturday, yet classy enough to drive the misses to church on Sunday. Something yanks just don’t get when building “pickups”…
— ManWhoEatsTime (@ManWhoEatsTime) June 28, 2018
Although a Tesla pickup or ute is by no means currently in the pipeline, Musk rewarded the substantial 28K replies with a few choice features which he assures would be standard: a dual motor, all-wheel drive and ‘crazy torque’.
Perfect for getting around town AND the odd off-road hoon.
Even better, though, is the plan to equip Tesla-buying tradies with heavy duty power outlets on the back of the truck, ensuring enough juice to keep on keeping on all day long.
Pickup truck will have power outlets allowing use of heavy duty 240V, high power tools in field all day. No generator needed.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 26, 2018
Of course, if the truck/ute is going to have adjustable suspension, one bright spark points out that the addition of an air compressor to run air tools would be a must-have.
An electric pickup might seem a bit of an oxymoron – indeed, a couple of wits called out for ‘diesel’ as a feature of a possible Tesla ute – but if he does go ahead and make it so, he won’t be the first.
The Chevy S-10 EV released in 1997 however initially sported a lead acid battery and a stunningly limited range of around 70km, with a second model kitted out with a nickel-metal hydride battery that gave about 150km (this is on par with some lower end EVs today).
One can be fairly sure that when it does happen, Musk will be sure to turn out a pickup truck (or ute!) with a bit more finesse and range than the Chevy S-10.
It might even be tough enough to haul a pig to market on Saturday, yet classy enough to drive the missus to church on Sunday.
Meanwhile, mining giant BHP has beat Tesla to the punch, working with Adelaide-based outfit Voltra, to trial converted its Toyota Landcruiser utes in harsh underground conditions, at its its massive Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia.
The news of that ute – probably not for suitable church – was announced on the BHP website last week. According to Voltra, the eCruiser is based on the Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series, “the most popular light vehicle in mining today,” and has been put through its paces (at a NZ wind farm) and “proven to survive the longest in rough, corrosive 4WD environments.”
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.