What’s better than the rugged, durable, spacious combination of vehicular excellence that is a pickup truck? One that runs on an electric engine!
Pickup trucks are one of the most popular types of vehicles for good reason. First, they have a certain look that many people swear by. When compared to the family minivan or the compact hybrid, these vehicles look gritty and durable.
That durability transcends their appearance, however. It goes straight into their design, which is created with tough challenges in mind.
A driver could be filling their bed full of materials for work or a project at home. They may need something strong enough to haul a heavy trailer behind them for a big trip with their family. They may even need to do all this and then take off down a dirt road the next day – that’s a list of tasks and territories the standard sportscar just can’t measure up to.
So when we’re talking about electric pickup trucks, what changes? We know that there are more limitations in terms of our options – less vehicles run on electric batteries than run on combustion engines.
When we’re ranking them in 2018, what should you look for? Today we’ll explore that – and the top 5 electric pickup truck options available this year.
How Do We Choose Our Ratings? A Guide to Our System
Electric pickup trucks have a lot of boxes to check to be worth the consumer’s dollar. For one, they have to have all the features that make a truck great.
These features include large bed size, good towing capacity, a durable body frame, and the ability to remain reliable throughout years of heavy-duty use. That’s a lot to accomplish already, but adding the electric element to the equation introduces many other variables.
How long does the battery last? Can it provide the necessary engine power for driving, towing, and hauling? After all, there’s no use in having a pickup truck if it can’t do all the things a truck is designed for – electric or not, drivers seek functionality first.
Full disclosure – there aren’t a ton of electric pickup truck options to work with. This is why we’re keeping our list limited to only five selections. But we’ll also be able to delve into more detail about each, and how they fare compared to the competition in the electric sector.
Let’s go over the criteria we’ll use to rate trucks. On a scale of 1-5, we’ll rate each option based on its features, overall performance in tests and real driving scenarios, as well as the reputation of the company behind it. Bigger names may have a bit more bragging room, but we’ll discuss specific specs to show how names alone don’t sell vehicles.
Finally, we’ll go by the feedback a vehicle has received. Nothing is a greater determinant of how a product really is than how a person who has bought it reviews it. Now let’s get started with the top five electric pickup trucks on the market.
One more point first – we’ll also be discussing hybrid options, since many of the higher-performing electric vehicles on the market still rely on a system that is at least in part gas-powered.
Our Top 5: Which Electric Pickups Made the Cut?
Starting things off with a hybrid may seem like a cop out on a list of the top electric pickup trucks out there. But for a truck that uses its gasoline engine component to extend its range, it is hard to even notice with this model.
It offers a four-wheel drive truck option built by Workhorse, a company that has taken good inspiration from some of the industry’s top names. The W-15 was built with Workhorse’s own Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion battery packs to provide plenty of power.
In order to provide more cargo room and payload capacity, the batteries are mounted beneath the vehicle. This makes it ideal for work applications, effectively ensuring the electric setup doesn’t clash with the truck’s true purpose.
The three-cylinder engine from BMW functions like a generator for a trio of electric motors. And while this doesn’t move the wheels themselves, the electric range is only rated at 80 miles, that still doesn’t mean this isn’t a good electric option.
Let’s not forget the engines are boosted by a gas option as well, pushing the range up to 310-miles and making this one of the more efficient heavy-duty trucks on the market.
With a payload limit of 2,220 pounds and a hauling limit of 5,000 pounds, this vehicle has the strong frame and smart design necessary to satisfy truck lovers who want to reduce their impact on the environment – and their gas bills.
Atlas may not be one of the world’s most well-known auto makers now, but that could change in the future. They’re blazing trails in the field of electric pickups like trucks blaze their way up dirt roads without a problem.
Not only is this truck durable, rugged, and built to perform in extreme conditions, but it is 100-percent electric. Now we’re dealing with the first fully electric model available for regular sale on our list. Perks include a four-wheel drive option with traction motors for each wheel, as well as an independent suspension.
This truck was assembled in the USA and comes with a single speed gear box per axle, as well as a massive front-trunk storage area. That gives cargo-heavy users a little more leeway and flexibility when it comes to packing for their next adventure.
The dynamic load control options are complete with regenerative breaking to make for a safer trip no matter how much cargo you’re hauling. As for charging, it can be done in only 15-minutes. Ranges are available for 300, 400, and 500 miles, and are all measured on an unloaded truck without cargo or weights.
The dash offers a digital touch screen that controls driver assistance cameras, the entertainment system, and various other high-end features within this impressive electric pickup truck.
The only reason this vehicle doesn’t rank as high as some others on our list is because of the lack of a lot of positive feedback when compared to the first option. Both could be equally comparable over time, as more buyers try out each and continue providing feedback about their experiences.
Technically, the Tesla pickup isn’t expected to hit the market for true retail sale until 2019-2020. But the reason it makes our list for models in 2018 is a two-fold answer.
For one, some demo models may become available for purchase and trials by select individuals or organizations. There’s also the fact that Tesla is an industry leader in the field of electric vehicles, so their entry into the truck market is buzzworthy and earns a spot on our list for that reason as well.
The truck has shown numerous types of concept art during the building phase, but Musk has confirmed several things. He’s stated that the truck will be a big one, a six-seater to be exact. He also said the minimum range would be 400-500 miles per charge.
Dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain and dynamic suspension features will both be standard on Tesla’s electric trucks. That means the 240-volt connection will help out a lot. There’s also a towing capacity of 300,000-pounds. This is one feature that could make many people skeptical, and curious about whether the same stat will remain after production has completed.
As for the aesthetics, the truck will likely resemble that of an old Bronco – a style Musk has said he likes on many different occasions.
From its design to its battery power to its seating capacity, this one will have everything the electric pickup needs to succeed. While it is hard to give it a spot let alone with such a high rating while it is still in testing, it’s still around – even if it isn’t available for purchase by everyone. And even if Musk’s lofty towing capacity estimate falls short by half or three-quarters, it will still be an impressive number.
One of the lesser-known models on our list, the ZAP XL is a truck designed for specific uses in special situations.
You won’t be racing down the streets in this model. At a top speed of 25 MPH, it offers one of the most modern performance listings on our list. But the difference here is the truck is advertised for campus and work environments, and for being a green utility solution for businesses and organizations.
So you won’t be seeing these at the local dealership beside offerings from Workhorse or Tesla. But, for what it offers, it is a decent overall vehicle. The range is 30 miles and the battery charging system is an onboard 110 Volt AC configuration.
The steering mechanism is a rack and pinion type, while the braking is handled by a dual-circuit front disk and rear drum. The gross vehicle weight rating is a couple pounds shy of 3,000, meaning this model isn’t lacking in terms of ruggedness.
This vehicle is being rated based on what it is – a utility truck more than anything. This doesn’t have the specs to be your main vehicle, but it does have the necessary configuration to be a solid option in certain situations.
This one rounds out our list, and only rates so low for one reason – it is rare. This vehicle is reminiscent in design of the EV1, an electric vehicle first manufactured in the late 90s for a period of about three years.
The S-10 EV was built off that format, and can appear like a new release because of the original model’s rarity which even trumps the newer version. Only 1,100 EV1 models were produced. And while the S-10 has seen only roughly half the number of releases to date, they’ve excelled in performance tests.
The new model offers an 85-kilowatt motor, which while actually lesser than the original, offers better battery life and works more efficiently with the weight of the truck. There’s also a speed limit of 70 MPH. That may be limiting for the racetrack. But for the street or the road, it is usually plenty.
Like the entry before it, this one is built for a specific purpose. It has mainly been leased to work fleets, but remains one of the most popular electric pickup truck options on the market and one of the rarer trucks from Chevy.
It can be hard to rate a truck like this because it is like the entry above – made for special cases. But in the right environment and being judged by its functionality, the truck is still a solid option with good design from a reputable maker.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in an Electric Pickup Truck
The electric pickup truck is still a young creation. While variants have existed for decades, the market is only now beginning to really invest in the technology needed to move these vehicles forward in manufacturing.
There are still plenty of great options on the market. Some are available for regular sale, some are only available to testers, and others are designed primarily for utility purposes. But rating them based on their ability to combine truck features with an electric power source, each option on this list ranks highly.
While not the only electric trucks on the market, these five encompass a number of popular companies within the auto industry and show off what electric trucks should offer. Durability, good battery life, plenty of cargo space, and easy charging – all these features must come together to make an electric pickup truck truly worth the money.
The electric pickup truck may seem like a unique option now – but as the technology continues to be refined, electric systems may become the norm for the truck market in the future.