During Tesla’s Q4 2018 investor conference call today, CEO Elon Musk stated that Tesla’s much-anticipated pickup truck may be ready for an unveil “this summer.”
Recently Musk stated that Tesla “might” unveil the prototype this coming year, but in today’s call, he seemed slightly more certain that an unveil could happen this summer. But don’t buy your plane tickets yet, because nothing has actually been announced.
While there have been rumors for a long time, we first heard about the Tesla pickup truck at the Tesla Semi unveil event. At the time, the concept photo we saw looked rather silly. Tesla stated at the time that the pickup would be big enough to carry a standard pickup truck in the bed, and in fact included a photo of this in the concept sketch which was shared at the event.
But since then, we’ve seen more developments in electric pickup trucks. Rivian stunned us and the rest of the LA Auto Show when they unveiled the R1T. The Rivian booth was just across from the Ford booth, and every time we walked by we saw more people at Rivian than at Ford, despite Ford’s larger footprint.
Ford must have gotten jealous, because they recently announced that they, too, would make an electric pickup in the coming years.
Perhaps these new developments have nudged Tesla to bring up their production plans a little bit. Tesla, accustomed to having the lead in electric vehicles, may not want other companies to steal their limelight and get to the road before they do.
What do we know about the truck so far? Not much for certain. It will likely be a large pickup, with 6 seats, a large battery for long range and to allow towing, all-wheel drive, have high towing capacity, and will have a 240-volt and air compressor connections for power tools.
Elon says he’s in love with the “heart stopping” design which is “cyberpunk Bladerunner“.
I’ve long thought that EV technology matches very well with pickup trucks.
Trucks are already large, with lots of room to put batteries. They benefit from high low-end torque for pulling things around, which EV motors have in spades. EV motors can be made more responsive for difficult traction situations, which trucks are likely to find themselves in. EVs have huge batteries which can provide connections for power tools, or an EV could benefit from on-site electricity to charge at work if needed. Most trucks are used in fleets and have relatively fixed daily range requirements, so it’s easy to know how much range you’ll need. And fleets are all about choosing the most economical vehicle, so a truck which needs less maintenance and costs less to fuel will be attractive to the fleet manager.
The problem with the truck market is that brand loyalty is very high, and American companies do make pretty good trucks. So it will be tough for Tesla to break into this market. But I’ve said many times before: “the bean counters will save the world.”
When fleet managers and accountants see that an electric pickup truck can be more economical than their gas-powered counterparts, companies will switch over very rapidly, as we’re seeing with early Tesla Semi orders.
So if Tesla, or any other manufacturer, can deliver a reasonably-priced pickup truck for fleets, they’ll have tons of sales. I’m not sure this is what Tesla is targeting, since they state the truck will be very large, high-performance, and so on. But maybe they can start with an “S” pickup, targeting the “weekend warrior” types who currently buy $75,000 Raptors or $90,000 F-450 Limiteds, and move down to a fleet-style truck at more reasonable prices.
We’ll see what path Tesla is planning to take….”maybe” this summer.
Which direction would you like to see Tesla go with the pickup truck? Let us know in the comments.