Segment Breakthrough on the Horizon?
As the demand for premium pickups continues to rise, the segment has attracted a surprising new player: Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, revealed that his company is working to develop its own pickup truck for the retail marketplace, with production perhaps starting as soon as 2018.
Musk made his comments recently in New York, as he fielded questions following his interview for an event hosted by Business Insider. Originally asked whether Tesla would consider building a vehicle for fleet customers, he said that his company would instead look to the retail pickup market, which would offer a better market opportunity. And as Business Insider reported, Musk went on to single out the Ford F-Series as providing the template Tesla would follow, based in part on the Blue Oval’s incredible success with the F-150 and friends.
The F-Series, of course, is by far the best-selling vehicle in America, and last month was responsible for more than 63,000 sales; to put that into the proper context, U.S. buyers purchased just north of 10,000 electrified vehicles during that same period. Another comparison is more important, however.
The 2014 Ford F-150 enjoys 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque from its EcoBoost V6, with that engine also enabling a robust tow rating that can reach 11,300 lbs. The Tesla Model S can make 416 hp and 443 lb.-ft. of torque in its 85-kWh “Performance” setup, and while the car isn’t rated for towing, its propulsion system would serve up a notable hauling advantage over a gas powertrain. That’s because while the EcoBoost engine delivers peak torque at 2500 rpm, which is pretty low for a gas engine, the Tesla system reaches peak torque immediately, because it relies on electricity.
Now, that still leaves the matter of pricing, and a Tesla pickup would no doubt come with a fairly high price tag. But the Performance Model S can be had for under $85K, and that would be small change for today’s luxury buyers—as well as a huge change for the full-size pickup segment.