Many people are searching for the best new electric car in Australia, or best new dual-cab ute in Australia, but soon these two seemingly disparate segments will converge to create a whole new segment of vehicle – the electric ute.
Electric vehicles, or EVs are gaining in popularity across the world, as people realise the benefits to not just the environment, but a different and more futuristic driving experience too ( see our Tesla Model S P100D review, for example). The instant torque response associated with EVs means towing, off-roading and performance are strong points of this orientation.
With many people relying on their utes for work, however, it is important that such a vehicle has the range to make practical sense for business owners.
while some of these, such as the Rivian are confirmed for Australia, the majority are not. We expect an influx of more contenders in the next decade or so, however – particularly if Australia adopts financial incentives for early electric ute adopters.
Great Wall Motors will introduce a larger, more competitive successor to the Steed with an electric dual-cab ute variant and a luxury version that offers independent rear suspension. Basing the ute off the larger H9 SUV, the currently unnamed ute will offer a 335km range. Best of all, it could start around the $40,000 mark. There are also whispers of an LDV rival, but nothing solid at this stage.
Startup electric vehicle company Rivian blew the world away late last year with the reveal of the R1S electric SUV and R1T electric pickup/ electric dual-cab ute. With up to 644km of range, a 0-97km/h time of 3.0-seconds and genuine off-road capability, it even attracted the attention of Ford, who will also develop a vehicle off the “skateboard” platform. 105KWh, 135kWh and 180kWh versions will be offfered. With right-hand drive on the agenda, expect the R1T to sneak at the start of the new decade.
The world’s best-selling vehicle will add an electric ute variant to its arsenal in the next 18 months, with the arrival of the Ford F-150 EV. Ford initially announced a hybrid version of the F-150, concurrently with the 2021 Ford Mustang hybrid at the 2018 Detroit Motor Show. Since that announcement, Ford has decided to go all the way with a fully-electric model. Prototypes have been spotted sporting the Expedition’s independent rear suspension setup, which could also make its way to other models in the range. While at this stage Ford Australia doesn’t import the F-Series to Australia, many conversion companies offer a right-hand drive model, so it’s sure to make its way here one way or another.
Toyota HiLux Electric
At the Model Y reveal earlier this year, a teaser for the Tesla Pickup or Tesla electric ute was snuck into the presentation, largely unnoticed. Elon Musk has described the car as having a ‘cyberpunk’ design theme, intimating that this mysterious teaser is showing the front of the car. Due to be revealed later this year, some outlandish claims about towing capacity and sub US$50,000 price (AU$70K) have been flouted too. According to some reports, the new ute is already generating more internet buzz than the Ford F-150!
You can bet we will bring you all the action when the car is revealed.
During the 2019 Australian Federal Election, the HiLux became something of a political football, which resulted in discussion about an electric version of Australia’s best-selling (link) vehicle. While executives have tacitly denied and electric ute is coming, reading between the lines, we wouldn’t bet against it. At the very least, a hybrid version is quite likely. Toyota’s recent electric commitments are sure to spread to its commerical division in due course.
American start-up Bollinger has developed a distinctly utilitarian electric ute, due to be introduced in either 2021 or 2022. Like the Rivian R1T and the R1S, it also has an SUV companion in the form of the B1 SUV. Think early Land Rover Defender in shape and philsophy and you get the idea. A combined output of 457kW and the ability to tow 3400kg mean it is not just a show pony.
Not to be outdone by its arch-rival, General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra indicated that a rival to the Ford F-150 electric ute is on its way, likely based on the Chevrolet Silverado but utilising expertise gained from the Bolt EV and various other electric endeavours. Interestingly, there were talks of GM acquiring Rivian late last year, but when these faltered, GM’s loss ended up as Ford’s gain, who will now have an extra electric ute/ electric pickup in its repetoire come 2022.
Hang on, didn’t the Australian car manufacturing industry close down? Think again! Greg McGarvie and his team at ACE-EV group have defied the odds to bring us the ACE Yewt electric ute. Think of it as a successor to the Proton Jumbuck or Suzuki Mighty Boy, but electric. It sports a payload of 500kg, up to 200km of range – but longer range versions are planned. The plan is for 100 cars to be built this year, with production ramping up to 600 next year, 3000 the year after, with a goal of 10,000 total vehicles including the Cargo panel van and ACE Urban hatchback. We wish Greg and his team every success and hope this initiative is the bolt of electricity needed to reanimate our moribund industry.
Another player vying for a piece of the electric ute pie, Atlis has showcased a new high-end pickup but many pundits find the claims made about the truck by the company to be a bit farfetched. These include a 15 minute charge time, a $45,000 entry price and 15 tonne towing capability. The main reason for the skepticism is the fact that no tangible prototype exists at the time of writing- only computer generated images (CGI). We hope the doubting Thomases are proven wrong in due course, however.
Excecutives confirmed towards the end of 2018 that Ssangyong is working on an electric ute with 450km range. Codenamed H100, the new car is expected to debut late next year. More details about payload and price will be revealed closer to the car’s launch. Ssangyong recently reintroduced the Musso ute into the Australian dual-cab ute segment.