Despite the current federal government’s negative campaign on EVs during the last federal election – including such statements as “EVs will ruin the long-weekend’ and that an EV mandate would “steal the tradies ute”, it seems that the long-awaited electric tradie and weekend utes and 4WDs are (almost) here.
Not only that – EV utes and 4WDs come with features that will leave their internal combustion engine (ICE) predecessors behind in their dust.
So what will they offer that makes them better that the current diesel or petrol ute?
First, when it comes to off-road performance – EVs have natural advantages that will ensure they outgun their ICE rivals in features, performance and safety. These include:
- greater control when rock-hopping because electric motors have excellent torque right down to zero RPM;
- regenerative braking improving the safety of hill descents, and
- a significantly lowered centre of gravity (due to the drive train being smaller and packed beneath the cabin along with the battery) meaning the biggest bugbear of current 4WDs is addressed by reducing the chances of a rollover plus improved high-speed stability.
Secondly, their work and play performance will be much enhanced compared to ICE vehicles. These include:
- full-length interior carrying capacity as there is no engine bay (eg: Bollinger B2 ute);
- better towing through smooth torque from zero RPM and greater torque/towing power overall;
- full-electric camping options – including an all-electric kitchen option in the Rivian R1T;
- 240V power without the noise and fumes of a generator.
So when can we expect to see them?
Until now, full-battery EVs have been confined to the passenger car market plus a few light commercial van offerings.
However, a bevy of 4WD ute and SUV models are either rolling down the production lines for imminent release, been announced as production prototypes with release dates not far away, or been shown as working prototypes for release within the next 18 to 24 months.
Perhaps the most interesting/surprising is the recently announced Ford F-150 Lightning. The F150 Lightning is a full battery EV with a rumoured maximum 750km range (officially, it is likely to be 500km with a 1 tonne load), a huge ‘froot’ (front boot) capacity of 400L and conventional AC power outlets – ideal for remote or power constrained work sites.
Announced only a couple of months ago and due for US release in May 2022, it has over 100,000 pre-orders already.
The F150 Lightning is however not alone in its mythbusting potential: US deliveries of the Rivian R1T ute are within weeks of beginning.
The R1T offers the same sorts of additional space as the Lightning – including an optional camp kitchen drawer that inventively uses space freed up by not having an ICE powertrain.
By the way, that camp kitchen option comes with both an induction cooktop and AC power outlets – making the Rivian perfect for ‘glamping’ weekends away.
Unlike the F150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T is slated for Australian release – hopefully sometime in 2022.
Following these ground-breaking examples, a whole bevvy of tradie/weekend away utes and 4WDs are set for release in 2022. These include the GM Hummer EV and Chevrolet Silverado as well as start-up EV company Bollinger with their utilitarian B2 EV ute.
On top of these is a recent announcement from Jeep of a full electric model to be released in 2023. Plus who can forget the Tesla Cybertruck with its ‘love it or hate it’ looks?
Mind-you, the Cybertruck is currently running to ‘Tesla Time’ regarding a release date (as in running late) – but still appears likely for a US sales launch sometime in 2022.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.