Electric utes – or electric pickups as they are known in the US – promise to be game-changers in the bid to electrify transport, given their popularity among tradespeople, or anyone with a reason to go off-road, tow a boat or simply get away for the weekend.
Vehicles like the Tesla Cybertruck, the Ford F-150, the Hummer EV and the Rivian R1T will offer features from two-way charging and power points, loads of storage space, independent four-wheel control and even armoured glass in the case of the Tesla.
Now a new player on the block has debuted at the LA auto show this weekend with hopes to stand out from the above ranks thanks to an innovative telescope-like solar canopy on the roof and tray.
The electric ute in question is the EF1-T from EdisonFuture, an EV start-up that is a subsidiary of California-based and Nasdaq-listed SPI Energy.
The EF1-T’s design accentuates the gap between the big auto legacy companies and the EV pioneers: while electric utes designed by legacy automakers Ford and GM are – let’s face it – electric versions of their combustion predecessors, the new players in the market are thinking about this in a different way.
The EF1-T at first glance appears somewhere cross-between the Cybertruck and the R1T – it has the long lines and low-angled windscreen of the former and the boxy but smooth dimensions and shape of the latter.
EdisonFuture hasn’t given much away yet in terms of specifications – nor price, nor any sort of timeline as to availability – but what can glean from the startup’s announcement on the vehicle is that it will be available with 350kW power output for a single-motor option and 600kW for a dual-motor option.
But what we find intriguing is the inclusion of a retractable solar roof and canopy dubbed “the armadillo”, that can be extended to cover most of the tray for extra solar power to supplement the battery.
While the company has not stated how much solar power this will generate, we can’t imagine it will be enough to power more than maybe 20km a day in a vehicle of that size, but if it can help to power your camping gear or a drill or three that in itself would be grand.
Other features according to the company’s website include a motion-activated step, side cameras instead of mirrors and toolboxes in each door panel that can be removed as needed.
Interior photos reveal a 17.5″ infotainment screen, generous heads-up display and centre-seat so that three can sit across in the front.
The EF1-T is joined by a solar-powered van that seems to be a version of the EF1-T with a smoothly integrated tray cover. While its a little odd-looking we imagine it could be received well by logistics companies, having between 260 to 400 cubic feet of space in the back depending on roof height options.
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.