Are We Ever Likely To See An Electric Pickup Truck?

Editorial

We're sure some of you will be hoping not.

Electric cars are becoming more and more popular, especially now that you’re not limited to compact-car models. For example, Tesla’s electric sports cars have become something that even the most hardcore car buffs can covet. If we’ve got electric cars and sexier electric sports cars, why, then, haven’t electric pickup trucks started showing up on the lots next to their internal combustion-based cousins? If you’re reading, then you must have asked it at least once, so we’ll try and answer for you: Why aren’t electric pickup trucks becoming a thing?

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I Can’t Go the Distance You wouldn’t buy a pickup truck that couldn’t haul a decent load or tow whatever you needed to tow, would you? One of the biggest problems with the idea of electric pickup trucks is the battery output. Specifically, the tendency of a battery to lose charge faster under a heavy load. An electric car with a decent battery pack, like the Tesla Model S, for example, can drive between 230 and 265 miles under normal load. That’s a pretty decent distance, even if you’re planning a road trip.

Loading up the bed of a pickup truck, or adding the weight of a trailer to the back, adds an additional load to the truck, and in the case of an electric model, an additional drain on the battery as the engine works overtime to try and keep the truck moving at the same speeds. Switching a pickup truck over to an electric engine is like buying a racehorse and tying its legs together. Nevertheless, this hasn’t stopped Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, from declaring his intention to create a functional electric pickup, but until they double the efficiency of their battery packs or cut the weight or cost in half, they likely just won’t sell well enough to justify themselves.

Light ‘Em Up – You’re On Fire! Thermal runaway. It sounds like the name of an ‘80s hair band, but none of the old grand music masters ever got this hot! Thermal runaway is a term used when a Tesla or other electric car battery overheats or is damaged. This dangerous chain reaction can even cause the car to go up in flames. Even if you don’t work with car batteries a lot, you’ve probably experienced how hot a battery can get under stress. Just hold your cell phone after a few minutes of playing the latest Candy Crush incarnation or binge watching some Netflix. You’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

Putting an electric truck battery under the sort of load that it would likely normally face — either from hauling, towing or a combination of the two — could quite likely result in thermal runaway, leaving your expensive new electric truck as a slag heap on the side of the road. And forget about taking the thing off-road. Will you be on the lookout for the next incarnation of the electric vehicle when you pick out your next pickup? Or, like the rest of us, will you sit back and laugh from the cab of your favorite gas-guzzling truck? Let us know in the comments.

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