Most of these planned trucks are far less insane-looking than Tesla’s $40,000 ultra-prismatic Cybertruck with its supposedly bulletproof windows and dent-proof body. Still, they boast of amazing-sounding capabilities that, in many cases, far outmatch even heavy duty gasoline and diesel trucks.
“The big question is, when you actually start to use those trucks as they’re intended to be used, how much is that going to degrade the range in the truck?” said Sam Abuelsamid, a transportation analyst with Navigant Research. Even gasoline and diesel trucks go far fewer miles on a tank of fuel when towing heavy loads, for instance.
Many of these trucks take advantage of other benefits of electric motors besides just the heavyweight pulling power they enable. Electric motors are also far more compact than gasoline engines and they don’t require a transmission with multiple gears, another thing that takes up space. That frees up lots of room for something that gas- and diesel-powered trucks usually lack, lockable storage space.
Bollinger Motors, another startup, is creating, the B2 electric truck with a tunnel that runs right through the front of the truck. It has a lockable door between the headlights and the other end opens into the passenger compartment. Another door opens out into the bed offering the ability to carry long items straight through the middle of the truck from bumper to bumper.
Bollinger, founded in 2014 in upstate New York but now headquartered outside of Detroit, designed its truck to look as if it wasn’t designed at all. More than anything else, it looks like a huge drivable tool chest. Even the interior lacks decorative trim unless you want to count the wooden board that makes up the “center console.” (That’s in quotes because it’s literally a board bolted to four metal legs.) The steering wheel looks like it came off a 1963 truck instead of one expected to go on sale next year. There’s no airbag in that steering wheel because, as far as safety requirements are concerned, the B2 is classified as a commercial truck not a passenger vehicle. The B2 also costs as much as a big commercial truck, with prices set to start at $125,000 — more than twice as much as some of these other electric trucks.
Despite some real advantages, pickup truck buyers will probably be slow, at first, to adopt the new trucks, said Abuelsamid. Electric trucks can provide power for electric tools on job sites and, since they don’t burn gasoline or diesel and have fewer moving parts to maintain, they’ll be cheaper to operate. Fleet buyers, who look most closely at the cost of operation, will probably be among the first buyers, he said.
“I think it’ll start off as a niche and I think it’ll gradually grow,” he said.