Electric utes, the sort that will actually tow your boat, take you camping, and power the tradie’s power tools, are about to land in the Australian market in the not-too-distant future, with more than a dash of torque.
Utes were brought to the country’s attention in the last election campaign, when Labor proposed a 50 per cent target for electric vehicles by 2030 (percentage of new sales), and the Coalition government responded with an absurd scare campaign, including prime minister Scott Morrison’s promise that “they won’t tow your boat”.
The reality is that once they arrive in the Australia market, it won’t be long until we wonder how we ever did without them – given their ability to power tools, deliver quad-motor all-wheel traction control, their acceleration, regenerative braking, and less brake pad replacements, and their superior cargo space – not to mention the ability to tow your boat or campervan.
The announcements about new electric utes are beginning to come thick and fast. So which ones will arrive first? And at what price point?
Auto mainstays like Ford and General Motors have unveiled electric pickup options such as the Ford F-150 and the Hummer EV, but don’t expect to see them here soon.
Ford has indicated it will bring all-electric vehicles to Australia at some point but has not said when, and we are waiting on a response from GMSV, GM’s only presence in Australia after the departure of Holden in 2020.
The Tesla Cybertruck, which is arguably the most-anticipated of the all-electric utilities planned by legacy carmakers and EV newcomers, is facing further delays according to comments made by Elon Musk at a recent company-wide meeting.
While first deliveries in the US were originally slated for late 2021, production is now not expected to start until 2022 – meaning it is not likely to reach Australia until 2023 at the earliest.
When it does arrive, pricing is likely to be competitive. In the US, it wil start from $US39,990 – the same price as the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus – so it is entirely possible it could come in at around $A60,000 in Australia.
The hydrogen-powered H2X Warrego is a more likely contender for front-runner, although as the start-up’s first offering, its April 2022 introduction will depend on a smooth run-up to production.
H2X says it already has had massive interest, despite its eye-watering price at around $250,000 a pop, based on the 200 plus orders worth $50 million it has claimed in the first week after its launch. We are not sure it will see huge take-up in the private sector.
As soon as 2023, either a budget Chinese utility made by BYD, or the XT electric pickup planned by US-based Atlis Motors could be available to families itching to “ruin the weekend“, and trades people alike.
The first has been hinted at by Nexport, a clean mobility company that has inked an exclusive deal with BYD to bring its range of electric vehicles to Australia, and already has a limited number available for order.
Luke Todd, CEO of Nexport, was quoted by Cars Guide as saying on Tuesday that a “luxury” BYD electric ute with up to 450km range is already under development and will be here in 2023.
Pricing for the BYD ute would likely be closer to that of your average Ford Ranger, given Nexport’s direct-to-consumer business model that does away with dealer markups and the fact that BYD’s Blade battery technology could already have reached a price parity milestone.
Nexport also has aspirations to make electric vehicles here, and has already earmarked $700 million for a 51-hectare factory in NSW’s Southern Highlands at Moss Vale.
This timing coincides with the Atlis XT, 19,000 of which have been secured in a deal between US EV startup Atlis Motors and AusMV which imports American vehicles and remanufactures them for the Australian market.
As reported on Monday by The Driven, this new deal will see the work-ready electric ute partially made in Queensland.
It’s also slated to arrive in 2023 and promises everything from multiple power ports, as much as 800km driving range huge amounts of torque at 16,000Nm and 600 horsepower, to an ultra-fast-charging battery.
Pricing is expected to go north of $100,000, although given AusMV’s audience are already willing to drop this much for a remanufactured RAM it is likely to enjoy considerable demand.
Another Chinese wildcard could be an electric ute with 450km range from Great Wall Motors first unveiled in 2020. GWM is on record saying it is not a matter of if, but when this arrives in Australia. With ICE GM/Haval utes priced from $A33,490, there is potential for a battery electric version to enter the market under the $A60,000 mark.
Rivian is, of course, next on the cards and has the best potential in this writer’s opinion for a 2022 introduction.
Its R1T electric ute and R1S electric SUV, which now have official EPA range ratings at 505km and 509km respectively, are priced from $US67,500, so will sit in the top half of the ute market in Australia. But remember, tradies like to buy their cars on lease, and the running costs of electric utes will be significantly lower than their petrol and diesel counterparts.
With two vehicles already confirmed landing in Sydney and Australia flagged as a key market for the company’s adventure-focussed electric vehicles, plus the fact that Rivian has attracted billions in funding from the likes of Ford, Amazon and more, the R1T and R1S could arrive as soon as 2022.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter 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.