Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that he is “dying” to build a full-size, battery-electric pickup truck to challenge established nameplates from America’s Big Three automakers – nameplates like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. He said that Tesla will introduce the truck “right after [the] Model Y” – a compact electric crossover that could go into production in late-2019.
I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2017
Pickup truck buyers being a notoriously traditional breed, its unclear whether General Motors has much of anything to worry about. First, there’s the matter of brand loyalty; Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan have tried for years to penetrate the full-size US pickup market in any sort of a meaningful way, and still, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler dominate. And second, there’s the matter of powertrain familiarity; since Chevrolet first offered a hybrid version of the Silverado back in 2004, truck customers have proven resistant to the technology, tending to prefer tried-and-true internal combustion.
That’s not to say that an electric pickup truck would have no novel use, of course. Electric motors of the sort used to drive EVs tend to produce boatloads of torque from very low down in the RPM range, which would be ideal for towing. And where Tesla’s future electric pickup could make a big splash, we think, is with commercial fleets – where the low price of electrons could lend to an edge in the cost-to-operate department.
Responding to another question on Twitter, Musk said that Tesla’s pickup could be “slightly bigger” than a Ford F-150, “to account for a really game-changing (I think) feature I’d like to add.” We’ve absolutely no idea what that might mean.
At any rate, the news that an electric Tesla pickup could be on the horizon might force General Motors to look more seriously at introducing a proper Silverado/Sierra Hybrid, especially given that Ford, too, is fixing to electrify its F-150 by 2020.