The Tesla Pickup Truck (Ute) – Drive Zero Car Guide

Here in Australia there’s nothing like a good old fashioned Australian Ute. From the outback to the suburbs they’re on every road and with good reason too. They’re tough, hard working and have become an icon of Australia in many ways – especially if they have a blue healer in the back!

So if you’re one of the many that loves their ute but also wants to drive all electric get ready for what might be the best all round ute – or pickup truck as American’s call them – out there.

Drive Zero Car Guides are written for people trying to get a feel of the electric car landscape in Australia. We only wrote guides for battery (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicles that are confirmed to be on sale in the market in Australia now, or are coming soon.

Our goal is to summarise as much as you might want to know about the different considerations for each of these electric cars and who they may be useful for. That said, we’re not qualified car reviewers, so full reviews of these models, we’ve included the best links and video for reviews that we could find.

Tesla Pickup Truck – size and looks

First off it should be noted that Tesla haven’t officially released any final or production images of the truck yet. There are very few concrete details about the Tesla Pickup Truck and practically the only source of information to go off are tweets from Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself.

Although development of the truck has been underway for quite some time now Tesla is quite good at keeping things hush hush. That being said the few tweets that have been sent out paint a picture of what might be an amazing ute one day.

Starting with the looks Elon has mentioned that it will indeed “look like a truck” which I guess is a good start. He’s also confirmed that it’ll be similar in size (or bigger!) to a Ford F-150, which is one of the most popular trucks over in America.

He further went onto specifically repeat that it will be really quite big indeed:

For reference, Andre The Giant is 2.24m tall or 7 foot, 4 inches… so yeah. This truck will be quite the site to see!

Besides the general size of it, Tesla has also shown us one of the early sketches. This was briefly flashed on the screen while they were announcing the Tesla Semi and while showing the slide Elon said that it’s basically a miniature version of the Tesla Semi and that it’s “a pickup truck that can carry a pickup truck”.

It should be noted that during the announcement he did seem to be joking about this above image. Apparently that absolutely huge truck in the image is “legal” to drive in America with a normal drivers license but it seemed clear that Tesla didn’t really want to make it quite that big.

What we can take away from the sketch though is the general looks of the truck and assume it’s going to be a fair bit smaller.

What’s the range of the Tesla Pickup Truck?

According to Elon, the range will be 640 to 800 km’s of (likely) EPA rated range. While that’s not next gen Roadster territory of 1,000 km’s, it is still quite impressive!

By comparison some of the most popular utes in Australia go about the same distance assuming you’re not hauling heavy loads. The Toyota HiLux does around 800 km’s on an 80L diesel tank while the similarly popular Ford Ranger will go around 900 km’s on it’s 80L diesel tank.

Given how big the Tesla Pickup Truck is apparently going to be they should have a huge amount of room for the batteries to be stored which would explain the large range. I’d imagine they could fit 150 kWh’s or maybe even more. This huge battery will also be key to a number of really unique and useful features it’s supposed to have.

Tesla Pickup Truck features list

To start with it’s going to be a dual motor, all-wheel drive setup across the board. This will no doubt help in any type of 4WD or muddy environments and especially when off-roading.

Another key part will be it’s adjustable suspension. Elon has previously mentioned that while driving an F150 it almost rattled his teeth out because it didn’t have any load in it and thus was terrible to drive.

With the Tesla Ute though the suspension will dynamically adjust to whatever load you have in the back ensuring a comfortable drive all the time. On top of this there will be “crazy torque” and all of it standard.

To get an idea of what “crazy” amounts of torque might be you only have to look at the upcoming Tesla next gen Roadster that has 10,000 Nm of torque! While I doubt the ute will match that it should be quite the power house.

Electric motors have far more torque than traditional diesel engines and it’s available from 0 RPM too. This will be leagues better when hauling heavy loads and towing.

Next up we have full support for plugging in both powered and air compressor tools.

Given the battery will be huge to support that 800 km range, the amount of power they’ll be able to output to tools or other equipment will be ridiculous. They’ll also be able to be powered all day long and the support for air tools is just icing on the cake.

You’ll be able to plug in radio’s, huge speaker systems, numerous high voltage power tools, air tools, recharge cordless tool batteries, fridges, portable electric cooktops, flood lights or anything else your heart desires both on the job at work or out camping all night long.

I think these features alone will be incredibly desirable for anyone comparing utes while buying. It should substantially raise the bar and really help convince a number of more traditional people that EV’s aren’t just good for the environment, they’re legitimately better cars too in most ways.

And finally we’re also told that adjustable suspension height will come standard too

What smarts does the Tesla Pickup Truck have?

Tesla’s are known for being computers on wheels. With their giant internal touch screens, Autopilot technology and internet connected services like remote diagnostics, tracking and OTA updates I think it’s safe to assume the Tesla Ute will be chock full of the normal Tesla smarts.

It will certainly have a huge touch screen, OTA updates, music streaming, Autopilot as well as all the camera hardware needed for Fully-Self Driving once it becomes available.

It will also use those sensors to parallel park automatically and do all the other things current Tesla’s do now like AEB or adaptive cruise control and lane keeping.

When will the Tesla Pickup Truck be released in Australia?

While an exact time frame is completely absent we can once again get a fairly decent idea from Elon’s tweets. Numerous times he’s mentioned that he’s “dying to built it” as he sees the pickup truck as a really fun project with lots of room for unique and handy features like the support for air tools or dynamic suspension.

As said in the above tweet, one key detail we do have is that the Tesla Pickup Truck is scheduled to be released after the Model Y. The Tesla Model Y is the lower priced SUV version of the Model X. Just like the Model 3 was a lower priced and slightly smaller version of the Model S.

The Model Y is said to be announced early this year. Maybe Tesla will announce the Pickup Truck along with it like they announced the next gen Roadster at the Tesla Semi launch event.

Going purely off “rough” timelines from similar tweets to above, it’s likely that the Pickup Truck will be announced sometime in 2019 and have deliveries in the USA start likely in 2020. If those predictions come true that would probably mean an Australian release date somewhere in 2021.

The tuck and SUV segments are by far the most profitable and popular car segments in the USA so there will no doubt be a huge demand and backlog to deliver before they start the RHD models and begin deliveries in Australia. Depending on how well the production ramp up goes it may even take until 2022 but we’ll have a lot more info when it’s announced sometime this year.

Summing Up – A new benchmark in what’s possible, coming soon

While the Tesla Pickup Truck or ute is obviously still quite a long way off – especially for us RHD Aussies – it’s certain to be one ground breaking vehicle.

Tesla clearly doesn’t stick to “the norm” with any of their cars and they also try and go as far as physically possible with almost every spec. Their next gen Roadster is testament to that with world record breaking acceleration and range.

While the Tesla Ute likely won’t be cheap (Tesla’s are usually luxury cars after all) it should be plenty fast and feature packed. Given the size of the battery and the power output it’ll be capable of, as well as the dual motors as standard and “crazy” amounts of torque mentioned, I’m sure it’ll accelerate to 100 km/h in 5 second or possibly less even with it’s heft and size. What red blooded Aussie wouldn’t like an insanely fast AWD beast of a ute?

On top of all this the added benefits of having a huge battery that you can plug any power tool or electronic (or air) device into will again raise the bar for all utes alike. Why buy a HiLux when you can’t run any tools off it without additional inverters or air compressors? Why buy it when it likely won’t be able to carry as much load or tow as much as the Tesla?

Why buy it when it has a diesel engine that likely won’t last as long as the much more simple and durable electric motors do? Even Tesla batteries have been seen to last over 350,000 km’s and still have 93% of their original capacity available. Why buy it when you can have a far more advanced interior and technology systems like remote climate control?

Until we get more info on price it’s tough to see just how ground breaking the Tesla Ute will be. Maybe it’ll end up being the “one more thing” when the Model Y gets revealed this year. We’ll just have to wait and see…

*Supplementary photos courtesy of Tesla

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