There’s been lots of talk about electric vans recently, with almost all manufacturers now in the process of launching their own battery-powered vehicles. But all seems very quiet when it comes to pickups. Vanarama’s Van Expert Tim Cattlin asks why things seem to be moving a little slowly, and looks at what electric pickups are actually on the way.
There’s no doubt about it, electric pickups are not exactly a common sight on our roads. In fact, if you exclude chassis cab based dropside vehicles, no manufacturer currently markets a pickup in the UK in electric form. So why are pickups lagging behind cars and vans when it comes to zero-emission models? There are potentially a number of reasons.
Weight: To be classed as a commercial vehicle for taxation purposes, a pickup needs to have a payload of over 1000kgs. Most diesel powered trucks only just achieve this. Bear in mind the fact that electric vehicle batteries are very heavy it’s likely that an electric 4x4 powertrain and batteries will weigh more than the equivalent diesel engined model’s engine and gearbox.
Towing: Almost all electric vans are prohibited from towing by the manufacturer. If the same policy is applied to pickups, this will severely restrict the market for the vehicle as far more pickup users need to be able to tow compared to van operators.
Ground clearance: Electric van batteries are usually located under the loadspace floor. Positioning them under the pickup body could mean a reduction in ground clearance which isn’t desirable for those who operate in rough terrain. Alternatively, the body could be raised but this would increase loading height and affect the vehicles centre of gravity.
But, despite all this, some manufacturers are developing electric pickups. Although the majority of these seem to be some quite radical American designs that might not make it to the UK, let’s take a look at what might be possible when it comes to applying electric tech to the pickup.
Chinese company SAIC has been at the forefront of electric van development, with these being marketed in the UK under the Maxus brand. It’s no surprise therefore that the T90 pickup will possibly be the first all electric pickup to appear on our roads.
It’s already on sale in China. Powered by a 177hp electric motor the manufacturer claims that it can travel up to 332 miles between charges. Put a full load on and go off-roading and you can forget getting anywhere near that though! Unofficial figures obtained by Vanarama suggest (subject to confirmation) that due to the truck having a high GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of 3500kgs, the payload could be around 1325kgs. There’s no indication of any towing capacity.
When will we see it? There’s no confirmation as yet, but rumours vary between 2022 and 2024.
Ford F-150 Lightning
We’ve yet to hear anything official from Ford regarding an electric Ranger (and don’t expect to see one until at least the launch of the new Ranger, being developed in partnership with Volkswagen) but over in the US the best selling (of any motor vehicle, not just pickups) F-150 has already been given the zero-emission treatment and goes on sale in 2022.
As you might expect, the F-150 Lightning is bigger than our conventional pickup trucks, but despite the size, Ford claims an impressive official range between charges of 230 miles, or up to 300 miles with the optional larger battery. It’s powered by 2 electric motors with a total output of an incredible 563hp...
Ford have sussed out towing too, with a capacity of 10,000lbs (4535kgs), although payload capacity isn’t quite so impressive at around 907kgs.
In the cab, a huge, Tesla style 15.5 inch portrait style touchscreen dominates, which offers the driver a massive amount of information via Fords SYNC4A system. Uniquely, there’s also an option for a reverse charging facility, called Ford Intelligent Backup Power. If you have a power cut at home whilst the truck is on charge, the truck takes over and powers your home...
As we’ve never officially seen the conventional F-150 on our roads, it’s very unlikely that the Lightning will ever appear in the UK.
This is one you may well have heard of. Michigan based Rivian have been making a lot of noise about their electric pickup and it’s even appeared on TV as a support vehicle for one of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s epic, cross-continent expeditions.
The R1T is on sale now in the US, promising outstanding performance from its ‘quad-motor’ (1 for each wheel) technology. 750hp and a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds. That’s super, even hypercar territory.
3 battery packs are available, the largest, 180kw version offers a driving range of up to 400 miles. Towing capacity is a huge 5000kgs but with payload hovering around the 800kg mark it’s not currently tax-friendly should it come to the UK.
But, will we see it here? The manufacturer seems to have every intention of marketing the truck in the UK and we’re expecting to hear more about their plans during 2022.