QOTD: Tesla's Pickup Truck - Where Do You Start?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd teslas pickup truck where do you start

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:

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. pic.twitter.com/ctX5k5kQrh

— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) December 27, 2017

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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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 30, 2017

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 30, 2017

      @Vulpine 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.

  • La834 La834 on Jan 01, 2018

    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.

    • See 1 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 01, 2018

      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."

  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs.
  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
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