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Tesla sets its sights on a ‘new kind of pickup truck,’ but what will it look like?

Tesla truck
Garrett Bradford
On July 20, Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux,” a follow-up to the original strategy that brought us the Roadster, the Model S, the Model 3, and, to some extent, Tesla Energy. The executive covered a lot of ground in his 1,500-word blog post, but one of the most interesting tidbits previewed Tesla’s exploration of new automotive segments.

If the Model 3 hits the streets in late 2017 as planned, the brand will set its sights on another compact SUV and a “new kind of pickup truck.” Yes, a pickup truck. Musk didn’t spill any specifics in his write-up, but given his company’s reputation for progressive features and eye-catching designs, it’s sure to be a unique interpretation of the word “truck.”

Instead of a small, Toyota Tacoma-sized rig, Musk is eyeing a full-size pickup akin to the Ford F-150. He’s clearly been mulling the project for some time, as he said the following at a Business Insider conference back in 2013.

“If you’re trying to replace the most gasoline miles driven, you have to look at what people are buying,” he said. ”That’s the best-selling car in America. If people are voting that’s their car, then that’s the car we have to deliver.”

Ford sold 780,354 F-Series units in 2015, so it’s pretty evident which automobile he was referring to.

A Tesla 4×4 has been imagined in the past, but a recent rendering by Top Speed is the best-looking we’ve seen yet. It features a smooth front fascia inspired by the Model 3, as well as generous ground clearance and rugged underbody protection.

Capability is the name of the game in the truck world, though, and if you’re going to enter the F-150’s domain, you must be able to pull your weight … literally. The first element of that is muscle. The Tesla P90D powertrain’s output is quite “Ludicrous” indeed, so that should be the least of Tesla’s concerns, but towing and range are real roadblocks.

As it stands, the Model X SUV is rated to tow 5,000 pounds. That’s impressive for an electric vehicle, but it’s not anywhere close to full-size pickup standards. In addition, if the electric motors are put under heavy loads during hauling, battery range will plummet, especially when you factor in a full-size pickup’s increased drag coefficient. There’s also the issue of off-road durability with long, floor-mounted battery packs, which is likely to give Musk’s team of engineers endless headaches in the months to come.

Clearly, the automaker has some work to do. For more on the future of Tesla, check out our breakdown of “Master Plan, Part Deux” right here.

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