Tesla is going after the best-selling vehicle in America … the Ford F-150.
It might make perfect sense, but the words ‘Tesla Truck’ still have an odd ring to them. And even though I have heard it many times, I am always surprised to hear that the F-150 is America’s best-selling vehicle.
Tesla CEO – and James Bond super-villain – Elon Musk told CNN Money in a recent interview that he wants Tesla to go after the incredibly popular F-150 pickup truck.
Mr. Musk said in a business insiders conference, “If you’re trying to replace the most gasoline miles driven, you have to look at what people are buying,” and “[The F-150 is] the best selling car in America. If people are voting that’s their car, then that’s the car we have to deliver.”
Musk warned in the same statement that it might be as much as five years before Tesla would offer a pickup. Nonetheless, this is big news. Not only would this be a groundbreaking event for Tesla, it would be a first for the automotive world. Musk has made a similar offer before, though, to make nice with Texans.
Ford did briefly flirt with an electric Ranger in the late nineties, but this smaller pickup could only manage 70 mph and had an extremely limited range. Compared to the sort of beast Tesla is likely to offer, it may as well have been an overgrown golf cart.
Tesla’s engineers might have some interesting design and advertising challenges ahead of them. The market for pickups is strange. Everyone from doctors to landscapers buys F-150s. While price might drive Tesla toward the higher-end of the scale, I worry that it will produce something that lacks blue-collar appeal.
After all, doctors and lawyers buy pickups in no small part because they like to feel rugged and independent. A Tesla pickup may be too effete and high-tech to evoke those same feelings, no matter how technically brilliant.
Even so, there should be some things an electric truck does exceedingly well. Independent electric motors at each wheel should allow not only for great traction in off-road settings but also higher than normal ground clearance. Without the mess of drivetrain and transfer cases, the important components can be tucked safely away in places like the wheel well.
I am excited to see what kind of pickup Tesla will offer, if and when it does.
Would you drive an electric truck and if so what would you want from it? Tell us in the comments!