Could Tesla successfully bring EVs to the pickup market? Speaking to followers on Twitter last week, Elon Musk reiterated his plan to develop a pickup truck. The trailblazing company’s CEO said that they will begin working on it as soon as they have released the Model Y, an electric SUV which is due to hit the market within the next two years.
“I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after the Model Y,” said Musk. “Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.” However, while Musk is clearly enthusiastic about the project, it could be his most challenging yet, with various design hurdles—not to mention a skeptical target market—to overcome.
So, can it be done? Here’s what students in auto mechanic courses should know.
Breaking Down the Tesla Pickup’s Rumored Specs for Students in Auto Technician Courses
According to Musk, the Tesla pickup truck will be slightly bigger than Ford’s popular F-150, with the larger size allowing it to make room for more features. While the company has offered very few other details about it yet, industry experts have speculated that the vehicle will have a range of at least 643km, and unassisted towing capacity of over 4,000lbs.
This will be powered by a lithium ion battery with a capacity of between 120kWh and 160kWh—much larger than the maximum 100kWh offered on the Model X and Model S. It is also expected to be incredibly fast for a truck, with an acceleration of 0-100km in under 5 seconds, much like the recently unveiled Tesla Semi.
Why Breaking Into the Pickup Market Will Be Challenging for Tesla
Students in auto technician courses who have been following Tesla’s fortunes will know that 2017 has been a challenging year. The company announced record losses of US$619 million in November, as deliveries of its mid-priced Sedan, the Model 3, fell far behind schedule.
With that in mind, investing in the pickup truck market could be an important move. In the US alone, sales for the top three pickup manufacturers amount to over USD$90million per year. Pickup owners also tend to be fiercely brand-loyal, and commercial users will often trade in their trucks for new models every two to three years due to the amount of mileage they clock up.
However, cracking the market could be tough. First, there will be a number of design obstacles to overcome. For instance, pickup owners will expect to be able to tow large loads with ease, and Tesla’s existing cars have not always fared well in this area. For instance, earlier this year, a driver of Tesla’s Model X SUV demonstrated that towing a 4,850lb boat reduced its range by up to 60 per cent. While the Tesla Semi can tow up to 80,000lbs with ease, delivering a large capacity with a smaller truck might be a challenge.
Another potential problem will be convincing pickup drivers to try EVs. Drivers choose pickups for stability, power, and performance, and many will naturally be quite skeptical about electric vehicles. Tesla’s current penetration in some of the biggest pickup markets, like Texas, is virtually non-existent.
Tesla’s Competition: Other EV Pickups that Could Be on the Road When You Become a Mechanic
Tesla’s new model might not be the only EV pickup on the road by the time you become a mechanic. Ford has promised a hybrid version of the F-150 by 2020, while The Workhouse W-15, an electric pickup which also serves as a hybrid, is set to be released next year. Meanwhile, the Havelaar Bison, an EV truck which is being manufactured right here in Ontario, is also set to launch production in late 2018.
But while these models might be closer to the market than Tesla’s, they are nowhere near as ambitious. If the rumoured specs are true, Musk’s vehicle will be faster, stronger, and more efficient, with a host of extra tech features. It’s just a matter of when—if ever—we get to see it.
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