By on December 28, 2017

Image: Tesla

It’s sometimes hard keeping up with the specific engineering feats Tesla actually plans to pull off and the forward-thinking visions uttered just to keep the tech press salivating (and its readers buying up shares). Is CEO Elon Musk actually sending a tunnel with an elevator in it to Jupiter? Wait a minute — it’s possible that promise fell victim to the purple-monkey-dishwasher chain of distortion before it reached this author’s ears.

One thing we’re more or less assured of now, following Musk’s stint at the Twitter pulpit Tuesday, is that Tesla will build an electric pickup truck. Yes, just as soon as the compact Model Y’s out the door. This means Tesla fan club members and curious buyers will have to wait until after the Model Y crossover finishes development and finds a place in which it can be built — not an overnight process by any means.

What we’re left with is a pickup that’s a blank slate in terms of size and design. Grab your pencils.

Yes, you’re being tasked with ensuring the Model T (or whatever it’ll be called) appeals to the largest group of truck buyers imaginable. In this exercise, there are no worries about development costs or manufacturing capacity. Cash is flowing like cheap shooters on New Year’s Eve. Everything’s just hunky-dory at Tesla.

Back at November’s launch of the Tesla Semi and second-generation Roadster, Musk flashed an image of the thing you see above. A pickup truck based on the Semi, minus a rear axle. Pictured carrying a Ford F-150 in its bed and theorized to be drivable by an operator with a Class 6 license, this cab-forward megatruck never seemed serious. But that didn’t stop Ford spokesperson Mike Levine from trashing the concept on Twitter earlier this week:

 

On Tuesday, Musk tweeted that the truck would probably fall squarely into the full-size category, positioning it alongside the biggest Detroit Three sellers. It might even grow a bit larger “to account for a really gamechanging (I think) feature I’d like to add,” Musk said.

Think of the market, then think of that blank page. Is Musk on the right track to right-sizing this future model? Should it go bigger, or could Tesla have a hit on its hands if it went the midsize route? What’s the minimum acceptable range and payload? Would you go with a cab-forward design to maximize utility, or would a latter-day Corvair Rampside scare off potential converts already spooked by the missing gas tank? So many questions…

You’re in charge, B&B.

[Image: Tesla]

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57 Comments on “QOTD: Tesla’s Pickup Truck – Where Do You Start?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hopefully we don’t start to see “Calvin peeing on a Tesla logo” stickers on trucks. The poor kid might get a nasty shock.

  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    Tesla car designs have been pretty conventional considering the freedom that electric motors give you from the need to have a large engine compartment up front. One of Tesla’s selling features has been that their designs are sharp but not weird – they don’t look like “electric cars”, they just look like “cars”. Someone who is not in the know might mistake them for gas powered cars. A weird looking vehicle is always going to be polarizing – you will either love it or hate it, so it is going to alienate maybe half of your potential buyers – why do it unless you are purposely doing a niche vehicle? Musk does not seem to be interested in little niches – he likes to think big.

    Aside from the very important marketing aspect , I assume that the need for a crash crumple zone and the need to meet the pedestrian safety requirements also more or less dictates a front hood. Even modern vans have (short) hoods. It’s probably impossible to meet modern safety standards with a totally flat front VW Bus type design.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      Also I think generally speaking for the masses, it’s easier to drive a vehicle when the driver’s head is oriented behind the front wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      There are lots of flat-fronted utility and heavy trucks in the rest of the world. One would think at least the Europeans would be interested in crash safety and pedestrian safety. I don’t know what their take is on this.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Gamechanging feature – I guess that would be a space sufficient for a battery with sufficient capacity to run a very full-size truck pulling a big boat 500+ miles at 80 mph without refilling the battery. In other words – equal to a diesel powered F-250.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    5 things that have a better chance of happening than this thing actually getting built:

    1) Kim Jung Nut-job embraces capitalism and republican government.
    2) the mullahs ruling Iran convert to Christianity.
    3) Honda builds a real pick up with better off-road capability than the Raptor.
    4) directors/produces stop seeking sex from actresses.
    5) GM pays back the bond holders it stole from in the “bailout.”

  • avatar
    hamish42

    I would give musk/tesla a lot more credibility if, instead of running out prototypes on a monthly basis of what they would like to build, they would concentrate their energies on actually producing cars that are in the current catalog. Dreams are nice – show me the deliveries now.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tesla has built everything it has promised. Not sure what you’re talking about.

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        SCE

        Yep-and the model three is trickling out at best. They cannot conduct a viable business not producing product on a timely basis.

        And yea-Tesla has produced an electric semi or two-so I guess that’s a viable product as well…at least according to your thinking.

        • 0 avatar
          CaddyDaddy

          Huh? “Tesla has built everything promised”. Let me clean up my coffee out of my keyboard. As far as the above P/U picture, it’s amazing what $100 can get a first semester art student to draw. Gas Bag Alert!

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        Yes but they have not been able to deliver on the promised dates, nor the amount promised.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    Who needs a ladder when you got a built in electric lift gate?

  • avatar
    Prado

    A front trunk on a pickup could be nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Now that is interesting

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Or as the stupidly oversized concept rendering shows put the cab over the front wheels and make the bed HUGE. The current limitation on bed size is overall length of vehicle. And what is costing space now? A front mounted engine. Remove the engine, install electric motors at each wheel for 4WD and you suddenly have a new shape for a pickup. In addition given the flat load surface of the bed plus a raised ride height means an easy to swap battery tray arrangement becomes more feasible.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeremiah Mckenna

        GM tried it , and it didn’t do too well because you had to raise the bed floor in order to make room for the batteries. This made the pay load and towing capacity lower than the gas powered trucks. You still need the ground clearance of a truck that you don’t need in a car. No, the Model X does not give you the true SUV off road capability, and actually should not be called an SUV, but more a Model S Wagon, since that is pretty much what it is, a Model Station Wagon.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    As I wrote on this topic yesterday…..

    Tesla’s customers are rich coastal liberals who virtue signal to each other how much they care about Mother Gaia. These people would rather walk across town barefoot over broken glass than be seen in a pickup truck.

    Pickup trucks are for deplorables in sister humping states, not for beautiful people in Santa Monica, Los Gatos or Marin Co.

    And the deplorables who actually do buy pickups, would also walk across broken glass rather than be seen in a commie electric truck built by Californian hippies.

    I realize musk is trolling. What I don’t get is why people are falling for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      As a consumer product you’re spot on.

      But pinko municipalities and the corporations courting them buy work trucks too. A virtue signalling edition at half the capability and twice the price will print money for whoever can bring it to market first.

      • 0 avatar
        I_like_stuff

        Hmmm. Good point. I can see LA doing something idiotic like this, in addition to replacing all their police cars with Teslas. For the children!!

      • 0 avatar

        Yes. London and Paris are well on their way to banning dead dino powered vehicles, and other cities will follow. If you’re an electrician or a plumber in one of those places then an electric truck will be the only way you’ll be able to stay in business. And range anxiety will be negligible for someone who only ever works within a 30 mile radius of their home or home-base.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      A lot of Ford Escape Hybrids were bought by municipalities, utilities, corporations and taxi fleets. Not all of whom meet the divisive stereotypes.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      How do you explain the many companies lining up to buy the Tesla semi?

      • 0 avatar
        I_like_stuff

        “How do you explain the many companies lining up to buy the Tesla semi?”

        You are buying into the myth that corporations = conservative. That may have been the case a generation ago, but not today. Corps are run by people who are scared of offending SJWs. Buying a token Tesla truck or 2 is their way of virtue signaling their double plus goodness .

        Meanwhile, the backbone of trucking is independent and small carriers. They run trucks that make sense economically, not trucks that please leftists in Santa Monica. So Tesla will get headlines selling a few hundred of their toys. But they will account for a fraction of a fraction of total semi sales.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Corporations will do whatever makes them a buck. If that means virtue signaling to liberal types, then they’ll do it. If it means the head of Papa John’s trying to cover up for his company’s stock going down with a bunch of MAGA-oriented BS like “those dumb kneeling football players are killing our business,” then they’ll do that too.

          If the virtue signaling bothers you, don’t buy the products.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          You know, I find it hard to believe that Wal-Mart of all companies would be guilty of virtue signalling, and yet they’ve got a few on order.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        They are being smart and trying out a new technology. Maybe they end up cheaper to run, maybe they won’t. But they won’t know until they try. The number of trucks on order isn’t even a drop in the bucket of how many trucks these companies own. UPS in particular has tried out all sorts of innovative tech over the years – CNG, battery hybrids, full electric, hydraulic hybrids. Very little of it has stuck, but it makes perfect sense to try.

        I think Tesla has a MUCH better chance of surviving selling electric semis (and hypercars) than electric Civics.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      The Tesla brand name is all the virtue signaling their egos will likely require.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Talk about trolling!
      How is it that those who are such experts at what “liberals” are always spout such satirical (to be kind) nonsense?
      Try driving a Model S sometime. You’ll understand why Tesla owners love their vehicles so much.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Another day, another cool drawing that will send Millennials into a Tesla stock-buying frenzy.

    PT Barnum would be impressed.

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    Yeah, I thought the same thing that Mr. Levine said. But there are still those GM Top Kick’s and of course the F650/F750’s out there that have the useless bed and will still need a custom trailer or 20″ drop arm hitch. But who’s keeping score anyway…

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/71/c4/11/71c4112caf6ba7832cac903636ad5b32.jpg

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/OaA2O4EN2gQ/hqdefault.jpg

    A blast from the past… https://i.ytimg.com/vi/DYVmcWxEWaA/hqdefault.jpg

    https://i.pinimg.com/564x/b4/4b/9f/b44b9f498570efbb93e344b16230581d.jpg

    http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5056/5539880503_456793c9ba.jpg

  • avatar
    Jeremiah Mckenna

    So I’m trying to figure this out. Is there a huge dashboard and this truck cab is only a two/three seater? Or is this a double cab, with only two doors and you have to climb in over or around the front seat and have the back seat passenger exit the vehicle before the front seat passengers can get in or out?
    I for one would rather open the door and sit in the seat, and don’t want to have to climb over or around a seat in order to get to my seat.

    If it is either, I don’t see it selling too well. Reason is, there are more four door trucks sold these days than two door trucks. Reason is, you can carry a crew to the job site, or take the family around in the back seat. As a truck owner and user, I see these two options valuable. As a person that watches future vehicles, I see this as a trend that will be ongoing.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I think the Tesla truck will look like that, but it will be normal sized. The picture you see is merely a cartoon to bait the haters.

  • avatar

    An unnamed game-changing feature!? Where do I sign up?! Can I reserve a theoretical vehicle for a theoretical delivery date using real money?

  • avatar
    carve

    An electric pickup could offer a very low bed height. I like that Tesla started by showing electric cars could outperform gas cars, but why are they still focusing on the most energy hungry vehicles (supercars, huge sports sedans, large SUVs, semi’s and now an extra-full-size pickup when the batteries are the most expensive part? The model 3 is a step in the right direction, but how about a very affordable every-mans fun daily driver? Here’s what I’d like to see Tesla come out with…

    1) Something like a mini. An everymans fun electric daily driver. Keep cost down by having a small battery…say 150 mile range, and keep surge performance high with a bank of ultra capacitors, so you don’t need a huge, heavy, expensive battery to have a single, blistering 0-60 run. Keep it small and lightweight to make it affordable and to keep electric bills down. Something like a Chevy Bolt that’s actually cool and fun to drive

    2) A compact pickup. This would’ve been a better place to start because it requires less energy, and that market segment has no competition at the moment. Think something the size of a mid-90’s Toyota pickup.

    3) A motorcycle. I think Tesla could better execute an electric bike, for a far lower cost, than the existing bikes out there

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Carve: In general you offer some valid points but the reason Musk and Tesla are doing ‘big’ is that they can demonstrate almost 4x the equivalent fuel mileage with something about the same size and weight of those vehicles they’re challenging. Sure, a smaller model might be more popular but first they have to demonstrate capability at a ‘ludicrous’ level (an advertising point I was taught decades ago is to take the point of comparison to the ludicrous… which is why so many commercials even today talk about ‘pennies on the day’ rather than $29.99 per month.)

      1) Personally, a Mini is too small. Yes, I drive a Jeep Renegade which isn’t all that much larger than the “equivalent” Mini, but that “equivalent” Mini is much larger that the base Mini from which it spawned. But that also means you don’t have as much floor footage for a battery pack… probably only capable of about a 40-50kWh pack. The Chevy Bolt had to stack gel packs to make 60kWh fit into that short wheelbase. Tesla doesn’t use gel pack batteries. And while the Bolt is managing good range, I question both the battery’s reliability and the car’s battery conditioning for longevity.

      2) I do agree with a compact pickup; something about the size of the ’90s generation mid-sized trucks down to the original ’70s vintage models would be ideal for my purposes. An extended cab model based on the Tesla X or Y would easily meet my needs.

      3) No need for Tesla to push an electric bike, there’s already no fewer than four different brands of electric motorcycle on the roads, including one by Harley-Davidson and an all-new brand whose name I don’t recall.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Many people who buy pickups as family cars do so because they want the heaviest, tallest, meanest looking vehicle they can afford. For various reasons. This pickup would sell well. Huge, mean looking, tall. It will sure scare most people around in small cars away. This is an arms race. Winner takes all. I would add spikes and horns, make it look more dangerous.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Tesla pickup rendering makes zero practical sense. I added a person for scale. Reach into cargo box? Not without a ladder. Tow a gooseneck / 5th wheel? Only with a custom trailer. Tow conventional? Only with 20″ drop hitch. Easy to park? Good luck.”

    As if the Ford F-series is any better?
    • Reach into cargo box? Not without a ladder (Ford even provides the ladder.)
    • Tow a Gooseneck/5th wheel? Only barely. Clearances are a lot tighter with those high sidewalls and tailgate.
    • Tow conventional? Only with a drop hitch.
    * Easy to park? Not on your life!

    Sure, the image as presented is an exaggeration (though there are some Class V and VI pickups for those with adequacy issues) and I expect we’ll see something more conventionally sized. After all, how many remember the mid- late-80s commercials where a pickup carried one across the bed and towed another up a rock pile?

  • avatar
    YeOldeMobile

    You start by offering subsidies for purchasers in rural areas and offering free installation of home charging hardware.

    Then you build a truck that’s as tall and as wide as a Ford F-350, but made with expensive composite materials so that it’s 20% lighter. Give it a big glass bubble cab, like a super-sized Isetta, and Dreamliner-style dimming side windows.

    Externally, the design should try to elongate the perceived length of the truck, considering the other Tesla designs. You might be able to use the Tesla-T in unifying the cab and the bed. Tesla should also make sure that it looks like an electric vehicle: no big shiny chrome grille or exhausts (unless market research shows that’s what buyers really want), but in keeping with its smooth aesthetic and the need to make it manly they should take cues from modern military vehicles. I’m thinking something that is inspired by F-22s or Predators, rather than M-1s.

    Internally I’m sure they’ll try to go as Tesla as possible. Minimalist interior with a big screen and HUD for the driver, maybe smaller individual screens for each passenger. If they really want to emphasize that it’s a heavy-duty pick-up truck they might go for alternative upholstery materials, like wool or a synthetic fabric that is tough and easy to clean. Otherwise expect dark leathers or alcantara.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Which goes to $0 first?

    Tesla

    or

    Bitcoin?

  • avatar

    Draw me a spacey pickup truck.

    Cool.

    Call in my social media folks…tweet this !

    Profit ???

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Musk’s strategy is working (at least for now).
    Everybody is talking about Class 8s and pickups, not the Fremont fail factory.
    Like I mentioned on the other thread, next come motorcycles, bass boats, and aircraft.
    Surely it’s a 500 dollar stock in 2018, right?

  • avatar
    daniel g.

    something like a Hot Wheels DEORA from the sixties maybe?

    https://jalopnik.com/the-dodge-deora-is-the-truck-from-a-future-were-still-w-1677256245

    the electric freedom in design and the size is just correct to make a new version, just look the interior photos and is almost like a tesla concept 50 years ago, put a lcd screen and is ready to press conference.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Seriously, for Tesla to compete with sedans is one thing; for Tesla to compete in the pickup truck segment is a whole ‘nother horse of a different color.

    First, as you suggest, it can’t be anything as big as the semi-derived goofiness shown above.
    Second, as a nominal 1/2-ton competitor (which is where the money is), it’s going to have to haul almost 3K and tow 12K, … and do so all day long WITHOUT recharging. Even up the Ike Gauntlet.
    Third, it’s going to have to recharge in 10 minutes, or less, to near full capacity.
    Fourth, It will need at least a 400-mile range empty, at STP (standard temperature/pressure) conditions.
    Fifth, It must be operational in its capabilities and range at -10 deg F, while providing a warm cab.
    Sixth, it must be housed within a reasonable distance to charging stations, which are now MUCH less common in rural areas.
    Seventh, it must be cost-competitive with the Ford F-150, the current segment leader; and it must not have a depreciation rate appreciably greater than the Ford’s
    Eighth, full battery capacity must be guaranteed for 15.6 years, the current average lifespan of the American pickup truck, and replacement cost low.
    Ninth, the e-truck must be able to handle all the usual off-road upgrades, articulation, and stream fording-depth capabilities of a conventional 1/2-ton pickup.
    Tenth, craftsmanship, fit-and-finish, and interior elegance must be excellent, and comparable to comparable offerings from Silverado, Ram, and Ford. And those features must be durable and still look good / operate well 10 years later.

    These are quite a set of criteria. They are enough to scare even Merceds Benz out of the American pickup truck market, — a market where even the best efforts of experienced companies like Toyota (via Tundra) and Nissan (via Titan) are barely survivable….

    =========================

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      • First, as you suggest, it can’t be anything as big as the semi-derived goofiness shown above.
      —- Not necessarily. It really could be the goofiness shown above simply to appeal to those who are rich enough (and ridiculous enough) to want one.

      • Second, as a nominal 1/2-ton competitor (which is where the money is), it’s going to have to haul almost 3K and tow 12K, … and do so all day long WITHOUT recharging.
      —- Half-ton means half ton, means 1,000# payload capacity. This should (but doesn’t) mean that with full passenger load, it should still carry 1,000# of cargo. Even with 5 200-pound passengers on board (driver plus four), that means a carry capacity of 2,000# and towing 7,500# is more than enough for a “Light duty” truck.

      • Third, it’s going to have to recharge in 10 minutes, or less, to near full capacity.
      —- Why, when it can be charged in the driveway overnight? Effective user time to charge, one minute or less.

      • Fourth, It will need at least a 400-mile range empty, at STP (standard temperature/pressure) conditions.
      —- Why, when the typical empty use of a half-ton truck is about 50-100 miles per day. A 300-mile empty range is more than enough for 90% of all half-ton drivers.

      • Fifth, It must be operational in its capabilities and range at -10 deg F, while providing a warm cab.
      —- Simple for Tesla, considering the capabilities of the current Models S and X. Give it a 10-15 minute pre-start and the cab will be nice and toasty while the batteries will already be at operating temperature.

      • Sixth, it must be housed within a reasonable distance to charging stations, which are now MUCH less common in rural areas.
      —- Why, when your home/garage will be the local charging station?

      • Seventh, it must be cost-competitive with the Ford F-150, the current segment leader; and it must not have a depreciation rate appreciably greater than the Ford’s
      —- You’re kidding, right? When Ford already has trucks in the $65K-$85K range?

      • Eighth, full battery capacity must be guaranteed for 15.6 years, the current average lifespan of the American pickup truck, and replacement cost low.
      —-The current average lifespan of the American pickup truck is not guaranteed by anybody; not Ford, not GM and not FCA. However, the current estimates for the battery packs have their expected lifespan no less than 16 years (despite popular arguments to the contrary) and a potential of up to 25 years before losing 30% of its maximum capacity.

      • Ninth, the e-truck must be able to handle all the usual off-road upgrades, articulation, and stream fording-depth capabilities of a conventional 1/2-ton pickup.
      —- You’re assuming the typical 4×4 and to be quite blunt, it’s the rare pickup that gets used that way. Still, we don’t know that such a platform couldn’t do that. The current Honda Ridgeline is surprisingly capable out of the box but I do admit it’s not meant for rock crawling or mud bogging as you suggest this needs to do.

      • Tenth, craftsmanship, fit-and-finish, and interior elegance must be excellent, and comparable to comparable offerings from Silverado, Ram, and Ford. And those features must be durable and still look good / operate well 10 years later.
      —- Ho, ho, ho! NONE of those you mentioned offer anything like what you just described… at least, not after 10 years of ‘typical’ use such as you describe above. All three brands are pretty much trashed by the end of ten years of heavy loads, wild off-road junkets and other such treatment. Why should the Tesla be any different? If a ten-year-old pickup looks as good as what you want, then it was babied from the beginning and probably never carried a working load in its life! Either that, or it’s been given a recent detailing, paint job and maybe even a full upholstery replacement!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If it was a depiction of a class III dually pickup “in scale”, meaning the exact footprint of largest F-350/450, it would be believable, as something usable, as opposed to a show truck of comical proportions.

    I’m sure it started out as such, a class III “concept”, and the F-150 in the bed was an afterthought, added for folly or dramatic effect. But it would mean a 16 foot bed at minimum, a 9 ft wide bed/cab, and at least 12 feet wide at the duals. Not happening.

    As a class III pickup concept, it’s interesting no doubt. The cab-forward crew cab design, if that’s what we’re looking at here, could mean an up to 11 ft long bed on a 200 inch wheelbase, which would be a more efficient use of space, although 8′ is plenty and a 3′ shorter dually crew-cab (8′ bed) would be better appreciated.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Overall your depiction is right, though it wouldn’t need to be 9′ wide for the bed, 7′ is wide enough for the non-dually F-series in the bed (though that image is obviously rendered and photoshopped.) That means the entire width of this rig would still fall under ten feet, which should be road legal for a non-CDL driver.

      That said, I agree with your thoughts that such a rig would be quite interesting. Don’t know how many would want it at the size depicted but I am looking forward to seeing one in a true comparative view and not computer rendered.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Beds have edges to set boxes, sit on, etc, but max vehicle width is 102 inches (8.5ft, CDL or no), so our duallys barely make it.

        Yeah there’s no call for cartoonishly large, F-150 haulers with 16 foot beds. There’s zero need to reinvent the “dually” and based on a class 8 semi would be stupid

        Fully electric 1/2 ton pickups would be the logical place to start anyway, and before electric compact and subcompact cars if you ask me.

  • avatar
    la834

    Cab-over, forward-control pickup trucks were tried in the U.S. by Chevy, Jeep, and Volkswagen, all to little interest despite their space-efficiency advantages. I don’t think anything has changed that would make them more popular today.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Ford had one, too. However, I don’t think you could engineer one to meet consumer safety regulations any longer. No one wants to be their own air bag.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Actually, they were dropped because of Ralph Nader’s book.It wasn’t that they weren’t popular, it was because someone decided they were unsafe and opened a massive campaign against any car they deemed “Unsafe At Any Speed.”


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