March 16, 2022

All the (Road) Rage: Flux Talks Electric Trucks

Most people think of hatchbacks and small SUVs when they think EVs, but that's all about to change: new electric truck models are hitting the roads soon, and they pack a punch.
A row of different colored Rivian electric trucks in a parking lot

Photo credit: TechCrunch

It’s been fun watching the roll out of our EV-driven future as the variety, technology and features gets more attractive each model year. As we told you in our not-so-brief history of EVs post, the first commercially successful EVs tended towards smaller, lighter and urban-oriented passenger cars like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster and Fiat 500e. 

That got the EV’s foot in the door of the general marketplace, but when it comes to the United States, the biggest single car market in the world, bigger is better, with 70 percent of new-car buyers preferring larger vehicles like crossovers, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks. Electric crossovers we’ve seen aplenty—think Model Y, Hyundai Ioniq 5, the new Chevy Bolt EUV—but pickups and big SUVs? Not so much! But that’s changing, and fast. Here’s a rundown of the new electric pickup truck and SUV models we’ll be seeing (or not seeing) on American roads in the next year or two.

Canoo

The Canoo Pickup Truck (photo credit: Canoo)

Can-who? Canoo is an interesting start-up that’s been trying to flap its wings and fly for five years. It’s developed a compact platform with an easily replaceable battery that can be built in several different ways, including as a pickup truck. Range varies between 200 and 250 miles from the 88 kWh battery, and there’s no mention of charge times.

The pickup truck has room for two or three people and a customizable bed. It can be configured between six or eight feet in length and includes power outlets, storage lockers and fold-down tables (in the bed and in the front of the truck) to make it the ultimate work (or camping) truck. Canoo says the truck will be launched “as early as 2023,” but doesn’t list pricing. That said, we’re guessing it’ll be one of the more affordable EV trucks on the market..

Chevrolet

The Chevrolet Silverado EV Trail Boss (photo credit: General Motors)

GM went from being the villans of “Who Killed the Electric Car” to a leader in electric transportation. The new “Ultium” platform will be used for dozens of upcoming models across GM’s many brands (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac), including crossovers, SUVs and pickups. The platform’s 800-watt electrical system means it can handle 350-kw fast charging, much faster than the prior generation of EVs.

The new Silverado EV, expected to hit showrooms in 2024, takes advantage of the Ultium’s flexibility by offering multiple trim levels and performance. Two models will be initially available. The Work Truck version is intended for commercial fleets and will debut in spring 2023, while a fully-loaded $105,000 First Edition includes four-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, power outlets (with enough juice to power your whole house in a blackout)  and a cabin that can be configured for passengers or extra cargo space. Both models promise a 400-mile range, can add 100 miles of range in 10 minutes and can tow 8,000 pounds—a future model with 20,000 pounds of tow capacity is in the works. 

GMC

The GMC Hummer EV (photo credit: General Motors)

Remember cigar-chomping Arnold Schwarzenegger terrorizing the LA basin in his giant military-grade Hummer? Hardly the symbol of green virtue, which may have led to GM tossing the brand under the bus some years back. But now Hummer is getting dusted off and put back on its feet as an EV-only brand, though environmentalists will still tut-tut their disapproval at the marque’s excesses.

The initial version will be a $112,595 behemoth with a 212 kWh battery that weighs in at over 9,000 pounds, just a little lighter than a German Panzer I tank. Just the huge battery alone weighs more than many small cars, but that much juice (over 1,000 hp) can make this beast jump from zero to 60 mph in three seconds, even though the Hummer’s EPA efficiency rating (eMPG) is less than a gas-powered Toyota Prius. This is not a vehicle for Ed Bagley Jr. or the mellower-with-age Arnold Schwarzenegger, but at least you can’t roll coal with it.

Still, it’s a pickup truck for sure, with a power-operated tonneau cover, adjustable air suspension and the ability to “crab,” AKA drive diagonally in tight off or on-road situations thanks to the available four-wheel steering. Lower-priced versions with dual or single motors and smaller batteries will start around the $80,000 mark, with deliveries expected in 2023 and 2024.

In addition to the Hummer EV, you can expect a more commercial-oriented GMC-badged version of the Silverado EV in 2023 as well.

Rivian

The Rivian R1T (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This 13-year-old company, with backing from Amazon and Ford, has been on a long oddysey to deliver one of the first EV pickup trucks to customers, and in November 2021, it succeeded.

There are two models that share 91 percent of their components and can be similarly outfitted. The R1T pickup truck starts at $67,500 and seats five. The bed and body are cleverly designed to offer lots of hidden storage (Rivian offers a slide-out “kitchen” for campers), power outlets and different configurations, while the chassis has a definite off-road bent, with three feet of fording ability, 15 inches of ground clearance and ability to climb a 45-degree slope—yikes! Range varies from 260 to 400 miles and the most powerful version can do 0-60 in about three seconds.

The R1S sport-utility is similar to the pickup, but it seats an additional two passengers and starts at $72,500. It also offers less tow capacity—up to 7,500 pounds instead of up to 11,000—and the jumbo-sized 400-mile battery isn’t available for the R1S. The interior does seem a bit more upscale, but the running gear and platform is the same as the R1S, and it’s a real off-road vehicle, just like its utilitarian brother.

Both vehicles will take advantage of Rivian’s “Adventure Network” of chargers, which aims to add more chargers (both DC fast chargers as well as slower Level 2) in remote places like campsites, parks and Canada. Rivian has started to deliver its first pickups to customers already, but expect a long wait between ordering and delivery.

Tesla

The Tesla Cybertruck (photo credit: Tesla)

When the cover was whipped off the Tesla Cybertruck in its 2019 reveal, many viewers’ first thoughts were, “Is this a joke?” Not because the design was hilarious—its armored-vehicle-of-the-future visage is cold and intimidating—but because it was so…unexpected. No legacy car maker would release a design so completely off the reservation like this angular, stainless steel beast.

The specs are as impressive as the styling is polarizing, what Tesla describes as a “truck with more performance than a sports car.” The stainless-steel monocoque body will never rust, it has bulletproof windows, a powered tonneau cover over the bed (Tesla said a solar panel will be optional), room for six in the giant cab, autonomous driving capability, an on-board air compressor, power outlets and, we assume, machine guns or at least a flamethrower. (Just kidding, though we wouldn’t put it past Elon to throw in some additional special, unexpected features.)

Place a $100 deposit and sometime in the next few years you’ll be asked how you want your Cybertruck configured. According to Car and Driver, “The Cybertruck will be available in three different configurations, which are all based on the number of electric motors each has. While all-wheel drive is standard on all but the single-motor version, each additional motor means quicker acceleration, longer driving range, and greater towing capacity.”

Beyond that, details are still pretty sparse (it seems bringing this truck to market may have been harder and more expensive than the company first thought), though Tesla recently announced production will begin sometime in 2023, and the cheapest of the configurations will start at $39,900.

Keep on Truckin’!

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