Why Havelaar founder wanted an electric pickup truck: Japan's disaster


Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Enlarge Photo

A Canadian company by the name of Havelaar has tossed its hat into the electric pickup-truck ring with the reveal of its purpose-built Bison pickup.

The launch underscores the potential many companies are trying to tap as the market for electric vehicles of various types continues to grow, slowly but surely.

Havelaar's founder, 28-year-old Tony Han, had specific motives in mind for the Bison pickup.

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One event heavily influenced his decision: Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to CBC, which he witnessed first-hand when he was living in the country.

The destruction and aftermath of the catastrophe influenced his career path, and ultimately gave birth to the Havelaar Bison.

Following the earthquake and tsunami, which ruined the Fukushima nuclear plant among other destruction, much of Japan's electricity grid was down for days.

Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Enlarge Photo

In some areas, battery-electric vehicles were pressed into service as the only available source of mobile power used by first responders and for emergency medical facilities.

In Japan, all vehicles with onboard clean-energy storage—both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles—now have power-out connectors to facilitate such emergency use.

"[It] changed my perspective, my initial thoughts of what I wanted to do in my life," Han explained in an interview. "What's better than working in improving our environment?"

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Han believes pickup trucks are an important market where electric vehicles can succeed, and is now planning for a pilot vehicle program in 2018.

Havelaar will build 100 Bison pickups for municipalities and utility companies, rather than attempting to find retail buyers for the first vehicles.

That allows the company to beta-test the pickups and ensure they are capable of handling Canada's weather and road conditions.

Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Havelaar Bison electric pickup truck

Enlarge Photo

Havelaar then hopes to put the Bison on sale in 2019, at something around $58,000, though the final price is yet to be determined.

"The sky is really the limit," Han said. "Imagine all the vehicles on the road: all of them will become electric and we want to be early adopters."

The Bison features a dual electric-motor setup and all-wheel drive, which the company says will match the capabilities of gasoline-powered pickups.

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Specifications are not yet available, but the truck will go 186 miles on a single charge per company estimates.

When 2019 does roll around, Havelaar will have to fend off competition from Bollinger, Workhorse, and Tesla, perhaps along with others as well.

Each of those companies says it plans to have its own dedicated electric pickup on the market within two years as well.

[hat tip: Gary Wall]

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