Tesla Motors could branch out into truck territory

Tesla Motors’ well-known CEO, Elon Musk, was recently interviewed at the StartmeupHK Venture Forum in Hong Kong. On the list of topics was Tesla and its current lineup of vehicles, including the new Model X. Probing for information, the on-stage interviewer asked Musk about Tesla offering a pickup truck. The point-blank question was met with positive remarks.

“Yeah, I think it’s quiet likely we’ll do a truck in the future,” Musk replied. When asked for more details, Musk laughingly responded with, “No, [but] I think it’s sort of a logical thing for us to do in the future.” (Musk’s comments start at the 24:55 minute mark in the video.)

Huh, a Tesla truck; that’s an interesting thought. The fledgling automaker will have some serious issues to overcome should it move forward with the idea. First, trucks are generally more abused – or at least saddled with harder work – more so than sedans or crossover SUVs. They’re designed to tow, haul, and tackle moderately rough terrain. Then there’s the issue of aerodynamics. Trucks inherently behave like a brick in a wind tunnel, with their cargo beds and flat fronts pushing through the air.

Perhaps Tesla will rethink the idea of what a truck is. Perhaps they will introduce a sort of El Camino or Ridgeline-like vehicle based on the Model X, designed only to haul the occasional wet dog, Ikea box, or smelly gym bag. Labeling it a truck would likely spur sales thanks to the hot pickup and SUV market these days.

However, there are major concerns about such a vehicle. Keep reading for more.

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Being a Tesla product, the truck would undoubtedly be all-electric. Given Tesla’s mastery of in-car battery technology and the power levels generated by them, the truck should have no issues making horsepower or torque. The Model X, for example, makes an impressive 762 horsepower and 713 pound-feet of torque. The issue, however, comes with driving range.

What happens to the range when towing or hauling anything of a significant weight? Tesla says the Model X is able to tow 5,000 pounds, though it doesn’t give any details on range depletion with a trailer attached. The Model X is also so new, trailer-tow testing hasn’t been performed by independent news outlets such as yours truly. Under the best circumstances, the Model X has a 257-mile driving range on a full charge.

If Tesla does indeed build a pickup truck, we don’t expect to see it until after 2020. From the video, Musk didn’t seem too concerned about getting a Tesla pickup to market anytime soon, though his mild reaction could certainly be an act. Nevertheless, if a Tesla truck does happen, it will be very interesting to see what direction the automaker takes and how it will use its battery technology to compensate for cargo and trailer loads.

Why It Matters

Tesla is an innovated company that has proved its naysayers wrong over and over, somehow delivering on outlandish promises and wild concepts. It has truly made a deep impact in the automotive landscape, with the traditional automakers struggling to keep up with Tesla’s battery technology and growing Supercharger infrastructure. I can’t put it past Tesla to build an all-electric truck. Heck, it put roof-mounted doors on its SUV, made a sedan faster than most sports cars, and somehow brought both to everyday consumers without a dealership network. If anybody can build an electric truck, it’s Tesla Motors.

What do you think?
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