Coming off the Tesla's double-victory of winning both Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the Year and Motor Trend's Car of the Year, as well as several other industry and media awards and accolades, CEO Elon Musk says it's just the beginning for the California startup automaker. The Model X crossover is coming, a mass-market sedan aimed at the BMW 3 Series, and according to an interview with Motor Trend after receiving the Car of the Year award, a possible electric pickup.
The mere discussion of a pickup model shows the ambition of Musk and Tesla to become a true full-line electric automaker. Many other established brands such as Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Mazda are without a pickup offering in their current U.S. lineups.
There have been some third-party and startup attempts at truck electrification, notably Balqon and Smith Electric Vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty commercial and fleet segment, and Via Motors, which does a series-hybrid conversion similar to the arrangement on the Chevrolet Volt to Silverado trucks and Express vans. Phoenix Motorcars, a company based in Ontario, California, planned on importing and converting SsangYong pickup and utility vehicles to electric power, but filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Can Tesla succeed in building a fully electric pickup from a clean-sheet design where other companies have failed with adaptations of existing internal-combustion vehicles? Stay tuned. If the overall engineering and sophistication of a truck product approaches that of the Model S sedan, we're expecting a world-class competitor.