Think back to the late 1990s. While the EV1 was making waves smoothly whirring down the freeways and highways of Arizona and California, an altogether more rugged fleet of electric utility trucks were living a less obviously electric lifestyle.
Enter GM’s S10 Pickup and Ford’s Electric Ranger. Between them, both vehicles provided local government, utility companies and eventually private individuals a way to drive a zero tailpipe emissions electric vehicle that could cope with the more industrial side of life.
Many have survived the past ten years and are still being used today, alongside a great deal of pickup trucks converted from gasoline to electricity by enthusiastic owners.
But since the re-emergence of electric vehicles we’ve seen very few electric pickups reach the showroom. Why, and will it change?
Although pickups are still extremely popular nationwide, the appeal of an electric pickup truck is much less than an electric car, since most early adopters are city-dwellers looking for a family car.
As electric cars become more common however, we think fully electric and range-extended electric (or plug-in hybrid) pickups will reach the market.
It’s already happening. Here’s just three plug-in pickups we know about.
Electrovaya/Chrysler Dodge Ram Plug-In Hybrid
Dodge Ram pickups have long been associated with heavy hauling and big V8 engines. Found everywhere from farms and building sites to the drag strip, they are hardly the epitome of green transportation. In fact the Dodge Ram 1500, the smallest available pickup in the brand, struggles to achieve 20 mpg in fuel economy tests.
But in a joint collaboration between Chrysler and battery company Electrovaya, a plug-in prototype Dodge Ram was recently unveiled at the Washington D.C. auto show.
Alongside the gasoline engine, the prototype includes a 12 kilowatt-hour battery pack capable of providing power for up to 20 miles of all-electric driving.
Via Motors Raser E-REV Truck
A spin-off company from Raser Technology, Via Motors quietly updated their website at the start of this year to include details of a range of plug-in vehicles, including a truck, an SUV and a Van.
The same company responsible for the plug in Hummer prototype shown in 2009 at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit, Via Motors are claiming that their range-extended electric vehicles will be available from 2013, at an expected price of $79,000.
Reservations are being accepted now at a cost of $1,000. You may not want to wait that long, however.
Phoenix Cars LLC
Phoenix cars have been around for some time, but have yet to commercially sell their vehicles.
Considered vaporware by many electric vehicle fans, their four-seat Phoenix SUT pickup truck promises to offer a range of between 70 and 100 miles. 0-60mph is claimed to take less than 14 seconds and a full charge should be possible in 1 hour and 20 minutes when using an external high-power charger.
However, just like the other vehicles we’ve covered, the Phoenix SUT isn’t available yet.
Will these prototypes turn into real pickup trucks you can buy? If we had to pick one, we’d have to say the Chrysler/Electrovaya Dodge Plug in Hybrid is the vehicle we’ll see first. Then again, we may be proven wrong.
So, are brand new electric pickups available yet? Apart from some small city runabouts which aren’t true pickups, no, not quite, but we remain hopeful they will in the very near future.