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Tesla Planning an Electric Pickup Truck, Says Elon Musk 293

Posted by timothy
from the ok-this-may-drag-me-in dept.
cartechboy writes "Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk says the company will make an electric pickup truck to compete with America's best-selling Ford F-Series pickups. Musk made the comment yesterday at the end of an interview at a tech conference in New York. Surrounded by questioners, Musk was asked if Tesla would ever make commercial fleet trucks (like for UPS or Fed Ex) and he responded that a consumer truck would be the company's best answer, because America's pickup truck sales numbers don't lie — that's what buyers want, and if Tesla wants to replace the most gasoline miles possible, that's what they should build. Musk said it will be about five years before the company builds its pickup however, giving it time to focus on another hurdle: breaking into the pickup market. Texas is where trucks rule, and Texas, as we know, is the Bermuda Triangle for Tesla." That also gives me five years to save up for one, and (just maybe) five years for Ford, et al to jump in, too.
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Tesla Planning an Electric Pickup Truck, Says Elon Musk

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  • Ford (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:33PM (#45427220)

    and (just maybe) five years for Ford, et al to jump in, too.

    Ford has already made an electric Ranger [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:Ford (Score:5, Funny)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:51PM (#45427440)

      Ford has already made an electric Ranger [wikipedia.org].

      So can we refer to that as a Power Ranger?

      • Maybe Unpowered Ranger. Ford has stop production of the Ranger line. Well, of all light trucks in the USA.

        • by lgw (121541)

          Really? Why so? I thought those sold well - are truck owners so intent on driving a bigger truck than the neighbor?

          • The Ranger is so small that it's almost in a class of it's own and was never as popular as the F-Series. Modern "Full Size" pickups like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 are the staple of the pickup market. Yes, some people like to play the "my truck is an extension of my dick" game, but I don't participate in that, I drive a Tacoma.
          • Re:Ford (Score:4, Informative)

            by Algae_94 (2017070) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @09:15PM (#45428785) Journal
            A lot of it is related to CAFE regulations. The newest CAFE regs are based around a vehicles footprint size - the area enclosed by a rectangle with the wheels as vertices. This is also why full size trucks with regular cabs and short beds aren't really a thing anymore. They need the larger footprint provided by a longer bed.

            Basically larger vehicle footprint = lower acceptable fuel economy. The Rangers and other smaller trucks could easily be redesigned to meet the new standards, but they don't sell in large enough volumes to warrant the R&D expense.

            Funny enough, these midsize trucks sell very well outside of the US. This is why Ford still makes a Ranger for those markets. In the US, you have Toyota Tacomas, Nissan Frontiers, Honda Ridgeline, and maybe next year the Chevy/GM Colorado/Canyon will be brought back.
            • Re:Ford (Score:4, Interesting)

              by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @11:11PM (#45429377)
              This is also why full size trucks with regular cabs and short beds aren't really a thing anymore. They need the larger footprint provided by a longer bed.

              Actually, what I see more than anything are short-beds with a full 4-door cab, instead of the extended cabs with small suicide doors that were popular for many years (one of which I own). The 4-door cab/short bed is a good compromise between hauling capacity and passenger comfort, and without the parking headaches of a full 8' bed.
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Ford stopped sale of all light trucks in the USA for CAFE reasons, so what reason did they give for cutting the EV that wouldn't be negatively affected by CAFE?
          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

            Ford stopped sale of all light trucks in the USA for CAFE reasons, so what reason did they give for cutting the EV that wouldn't be negatively affected by CAFE?

            They may say it was for CAFE reasons but the reality is that it costs them about the same to build a Ranger as it does the F series, but they can charge a damn lot more for the F series. In the end, it's simple economics. The don't sell light trucks in the US because they are trying to maximize profits.

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              Choosing to lower profitable revenue to focus on margin is the sign of a dying company. K-Mart did the same thing 6 months before they declared bankruptcy. Ford is larger, it'll take longer to fail. But they've apparently given up trying to succeed.
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                That's not what happened, because now there are no trucks which do precisely what the Ranger did, which is to say be a light truck with room for fat people, even if they are tall. So now you need a mid-sized (half-ton) truck to serve that purpose.

                The good news is that the mileage on the half-ton trucks is getting better...

            • by Algae_94 (2017070)
              They would maximize their profits if they made a few light trucks so that a customer like me would actually buy one. F series being their only offering will not make me buy a larger truck than I need.
    • Squandered Research (Score:5, Informative)

      by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:55PM (#45427486)

      Like GM, Ford also squandered its early technology in the EV area.

      Ford Ranger EV, 1,500 produced, model years 1998–2002. [wikipedia.org]
      GM EV1, 1117 produced, model years 1996–1999. [wikipedia.org] They also had the small truck S-10 EV variant.
      Toyota RAV4 EV was produced from 1997–2003, and is now back in production with Tesla. [wikipedia.org]

      Is anyone surprised that a Japanese company had longer foresight than the American ones? Thank you Wall Street.

  • market (Score:3, Funny)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:34PM (#45427230)

    Yes! Gotta capture that redneck high-tech environmentally-friendly market.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by viperidaenz (2515578)

      or the red-neck-can't-afford-the-increasing-price-of-gas market.

      • Re:market (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kilo Kilo (2837521) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @08:23PM (#45428385)
        I've never seen this as an issue and I live in a rural area with a horrible economy. I don't know where they get the money for it, but every stereotypical redneck around these parts is driving some beater getting 12mpg's or less. And they're always driving. When the nearest everything is a 20-min drive, you think they'd try and combine trips, or stay home more often...nope.

        That said, pickup truck != redneck.
    • Re:market (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:41PM (#45427320) Journal
      You probably won't sell them on green-meadows-and-chirping-birds; but (based on the number of insufferable 'our truck uses Butch Power Technology, just like the Hoover Dam, and is made of Steel, just like Big Submarines' advertisements I've endured recently) people who buy trucks like power.

      And, if there is one thing electric motors do very, very, very, well, it is torque. Especially if starting a heavy load from a dead stop, the comparison is hardly fair.

      It probably doesn't hurt that (particularly among vocational users of pickups), more than a few of them are called upon to deliver a fair amount of cargo, than sit there, potentially charging, while the occupants do construction things or such with the cargo.
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        It probably doesn't hurt that (particularly among vocational users of pickups), more than a few of them are called upon to deliver a fair amount of cargo, than sit there, potentially charging, while the occupants do construction things or such with the cargo.

        That is going to depend on whether or not the job site has a high amp charging station. One of the problems plaguing current EVs is that multiple partial charges shorten battery life. So, unless your EV truck is close to needing a full charge and you actually have the equipment and/or time to give it a full charge, charging it at the worksite could very well be reducing the uselife of the truck.

    • They're out there. There are a couple of hybrid models in the 1/2 ton full size form factor
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:37PM (#45427254)

    ...is towing capacity. The tremendous torque would make it no problem for power, but range is a huge issue. Buzzing around town light, no problem. But the traditional use of a full size pickup to haul boats, toy haulers, travel trailers and 5th wheels long distance would probably garner almost nonexistant range due to the wind drag and weight. It's hard enough to make that equation work with diesel and gas - I take a significant hit when hooking up the toy hauler trailer.

    So you would have a choice of a gas vehicle that will do all those things, or an electric vehicle that is probably only good for short hauls or not towing, and then needing still another vehicle to do towing. A hybrid is a better case for that use, as long as the power is there when you need it.

    For all those people that drive them only for a status symbol but don't actually make use of them, then that might be a good market for them.

    I use my 7.3L turbodiesel about once a month to pull heavy things like god intended it to, and the rest of the time I'm in my 30MPG car.

    • by Animats (122034)

      For all those people that drive them only for a status symbol but don't actually make use of them, then that might be a good market for them.

      A surprisingly large fraction of pickup owners never put anything in the bed of their pickup. Despite this, the Ford Bronco/Chevy Blazer class of vehicle, essentially a pickup with a built-in bed shell, was discontinued years ago in favor of much lighter SUVs built on car-type platforms. (I still own a Ford Bronco. It's basically an 4WD F-250 with a shorter wheelbase. Good for towing a horse trailer. 12 MPG when not towing, so not good for much else.)

      • That's a lot less true today then ten years ago.

        The current fashion accessory car is a Prius.

        • Depends on where you are. Priuses (Priii?) are everywhere in urban environments, but last time I visited texas oil country, every last car in a parking lot at lunch one day was a full size pickup.

          • by CaptBubba (696284)

            Same even in the Austin suburbs. King Ranch edition F-150 crew cabs are very common as a daily driver.

      • Unfortunately, here in 'Murrica, some states have more pickups than cars, with a staggering majority having no need for a truck, other than to give their music choice some credability.
        • by mirix (1649853)

          This is also true in backwater parts of Canada. Apparently they get bonus points for having the truck jacked so high that the bumper is inline with the windshield of a car, and two points for belching black smoke.

          I think it's likely true everywhere between Vancouver and Toronto.

          Trucks (which includes minivans and SUVs, apparently, not sure who decided on that...) outsell cars 3 to 1 out here in the boondocks. YEEHAW!

          • Good. Another reason for you Canadians to invade and annex Alaska. We have the same kind of cars and even drive on the same side of the road.

            Go Canada!

        • Are you telling people buy cars as status symbols? I can't believe it! The only thing more shocking about your statement is that you think it's limited to 1 social group and 1 type of music. Next time I drive by a Prius blaring Mumford and Sons I'll tell them to go get a pickup like God intended!

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        (I still own a Ford Bronco. It's basically an 4WD F-250 with a shorter wheelbase. Good for towing a horse trailer. 12 MPG when not towing, so not good for much else.)

        My 1992 F250 7.3 with a turbo kit gets 15+ MPG on the freeway with 35" mud tires... And it's you're Bronco's big daddy. Down to the Dana IFS.

      • But a hybrid system that could tow your horses under Battery + Fuel and then coast on battery the rest of the week would be just perfect for your use. Of course, the thing will cost $45,000 instead of your completely depreciated beater truck. That buys a lot of fuel, even at $4+ per gallon....

    • The VAST majority of 1/2 ton trucks are sold to people who only use them to drive around town. They might get used to haul a few plants, a couple pieces of landscaping lumber, or a couple bags of mulch every few months. Nothing more than that.

      Around here, they might get used to pull a boat trailer from the house, 20 or 30 miles (at most) to the boat ramp. Usually a couple times a year... I'm not seeing the problem with using the type of system Tesla has been using for this.

    • by nblender (741424)

      God didn't build your Powerstroke...

      Not everyone who wants a pickup wants to use it to tow a boat or RV. I have had a pickup that only rarely towed things and it wasn't for a status symbol. I used it to haul my Mtn Bike around, or my Skis, or to sleep under the canopy... People use them to haul dogs, tools, parts, lumber, appliances, and to help their friends move.

      People tow with big trucks. An F-150 is not a big tow rig... It's a half ton that might do ok towing your speed boat down to the lake but my

      • Not everyone who wants a pickup wants to use it to tow a boat or RV. I have had a pickup that only rarely towed things and it wasn't for a status symbol. I used it to haul my Mtn Bike around, or my Skis, or to sleep under the canopy... People use them to haul dogs, tools, parts, lumber, appliances, and to help their friends move.

        Even an F-150 is overkill for that kind of thing; the Ranger would have been good enough.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Not everyone who wants a pickup wants to use it to tow a boat or RV. I have had a pickup that only rarely towed things and it wasn't for a status symbol. I used it to haul my Mtn Bike around, or my Skis, or to sleep under the canopy... People use them to haul dogs, tools, parts, lumber, appliances, and to help their friends move.

          Even an F-150 is overkill for that kind of thing; the Ranger would have been good enough.

          Or a Subaru

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      In my observations, pickup owners who actually tow or use their truck for anything other than daily driving seem to be a corner case. Though to be fair, people who actually use them more often than "moving, or helping friends move" tend to use them a lot. Those people should probably stick to diesel. The other 99% should be fine with electric.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      A hybrid pickup with power takeoff could be an ideal jobsite vehicle, able to power compressors, welding equipment, pumps, tools and other accessories without carrying an expensive genset.

      An EV mini-pickup could do passably, but would be worthless for towing and there's no current (pun of course intended) way around that.

  • Trucks in Texas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intermodal (534361) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:38PM (#45427268) Homepage Journal

    I think range will be one of the bigger issues in Texas. Many truck owners put on a lot of miles, especially out in rural areas. You don't generally have the option to recharge inplaces like Vernon, TX, Post, TX or Detroit, TX. And I don't see it as likely in the near future. And these will be particularly tough to sell to anyone who uses them for hunting and such activities, since the destinations are frequently remote.

    • There's a lot of wind energy in Texas looking for something to use it.

      Electric trucks would work well with swap out battery systems. One size fits all.

    • This runs under the assumption that the batteries will be roughly the same size as they are in the cars. If pickups had the same size gas tanks as cars, they would run into the same problem, but it turns out that some people came up with the idea to make the gas tanks bigger, thus extending the range. And some people, unhappy with the range provided with the gas tanks built into their trucks, purchase additional tanks that fit in the bed of a truck (and they even pipe those into the regular tanks so they
  • by Ravaldy (2621787) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:41PM (#45427308)

    Nissan and Honda have tried to break into the truck market for years but the market is not the same as the car market. Truck buyers are hard to sway away from what they know, love and trust. Ford lovers don't buy Dodge and vice versa.

    With electric engines torque won't be a problem but will reliability and durability be issues?

    If Tesla succeeds at making a durable truck that gets at least 300 - 400 miles with a decent load capacity, a price tag to compete and more power, I can see some changing their preferred brand.

    • reliability and durability should be higher with electric. Fewer moving parts. For what it's worth, Nissan and Toyota own the mid-size truck market.
      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        reliability and durability should be higher with electric. Fewer moving parts. For what it's worth, Nissan and Toyota own the mid-size truck market.

        If you treat the engine as a single unit in a vehicle, how many more moving parts are there in a standard vehicle? Both have suspensions and steering boxes and A/C compressors, etc. Yes, the engine has more moving parts internally, but really, for modern cars, that reliability is not an issue.

        As for Nissan and Toyota owning the mid size truck market, well no shit! The others abandoned the market a long time ago.

    • by nblender (741424)

      Disagree. Honda tried to make a truck for the antiquing market... But Toyota did mighty fine in the mid-size pickup market and they're doing great with the Tundra market... Around here (Alberta), the Tundra sems to be the pickup for the successful redneck vs. the Ford/Dodge/Chevy. I predict Nissan will do great now that it has licensed the Cummins for 2015 (and Dodge is going Italian diesel)...

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Nissan make excellent mini-trucks, but truck buyers tend to buy American brands.

      EVs will be useless for many pickup roles such as trailer towing, service trucks, wreckers, and so forth.

  • by confused one (671304) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:43PM (#45427334)
    Several manufacturers have gotten out of the U.S. small truck market recently. Ford and Dodge both dropped their small and mid-size offerings due to falling sales in the small truck arena. It's a hard market to break into and there's a lot of brand loyalty among the consumers.
    • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @06:48PM (#45427416)

      A large factor in the derth of small pickups is the chicken tax [wikipedia.org], the stupidest protectionist law still on the books.

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        Small pickups are light trucks, but light trucks [wikipedia.org] are not limited to small pickups. In other words, if the tariff was "a large factor," one would expect to see correlation in vans, minivans, SUVs, and other pickup truck sales.

      • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:49PM (#45428073)

        So the tax has been in place for 48 years but only recently caused manufacturers to drop these product lines....?

        That doesn't actually make sense. Here is something that does;

        Light trucks are now tallied as cars in the fleet average for the purposes of CAFE fuel economy regulation. Manufacturers can't make historical quantities of these vehicles because they hurt they average too much, so they've reduced production. Naturally, prices climb due to lack of supply.

        Light trunks are low margin products for budget conscience buyers, so as prices climb buyers vanish, some heading to used car lots. Manufacturers can see [wardsauto.com] the writing on the wall for light trunks and they're pulling out.

        "Because of the new CAFE guidelines, the most fuel-efficient segment for pickup trucks, the small ones, aren’t going to be available in the U.S. market."
        — John Krafcik, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Motor America

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @07:01PM (#45427554) Homepage Journal

    .. Presuming it has at least a 1500 lb weight rating, can tow 30,000 lbs, all while maintaining a range of 250+ miles. Oh, and I'll need to be able to go from 0% - 100% charge in less than 30 minutes (preferably less than 5).

    In rural Missouri.

  • If it doesn't have ion thrusters for towing, I will be thoroughly disappointed. Yes, they basically only work in a vacuum but still, they'd look really cool!
  • The Tesla Model S weighs more an 1000 pounds more than similar gas powered vehicles. Pickups (well, the ones that are actually used for work) are often driven on dirt. Even if it just an unfinished driveway at a work site rather than a field, it can still be muddy. The heavier the vehicle on a given set of tires, the more you sink and are likely to get stuck. You get work around this with bigger tires or more tires but that increases costs and reduces efficiency. Reducing efficiency means you carry ev

  • What's wrong with this guy. He keeps launching and suggesting new ideas every other week, without actually delivering something most of his fans are begging for.

    Enough pie in the sky and train in the tube already.

    Haul your tail in and make and deliver a decent 40K Tesla sedan.

    • by bledri (1283728)

      What's wrong with this guy. He keeps launching and suggesting new ideas every other week, without actually delivering something most of his fans are begging for.

      Enough pie in the sky and train in the tube already.

      Haul your tail in and make and deliver a decent 40K Tesla sedan.

      From TFA:

      It'll be a while, though. In the meantime, Tesla has a Model X crossover to launch and a smaller, more affordable sedan to develop--so don't expect to see a pickup for another five years or so.

      And for what it's worth, he's clearly stated he won't be involved with the HyperLoop because he's too busy with Tesla and Space X. And what's so terrible about having ideas?

  • by Now15 (9715) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:06AM (#45430735) Homepage

    Slightly off-topic, but what is stopping Tesla from establishing a franchise store in Texas? What stops Elon Musk from personally establishing an dealership like any other?

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:58AM (#45431443)
    Why a truck? 99% of the pickup trucks on the road are just for show, almost no one who owns one actually carries anything in them. I think we should actually ban trucks in larger cities like Toronto with out a special permit. We have societies obsessed with bigger and more power trucks when in the end all they really need is a smart car. Lets stop building pickup trucks and focus more on size and power efficient cars. I know this isn't in line with this post but I think someone has to mention this issue.

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