Elon Musk: Tesla to Make Its Own Electric Version of Ford F-150

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 53

Would You Buy a Tesla F-150?

Would You Buy a Tesla F-150?

If Elon Musk weren’t dead set on Tesla Motors making an electric truck, then why would he continue to mention it at every opportunity he gets?

We Suspect Tesla's Version Will be Quicker Than Ford's Raptor Truck

We Suspect Tesla’s Version Will be Quicker Than Ford’s Raptor Truck

The answer to that question is obvious: Musk oh so badly wants Tesla to do a Ford F-150 competitor.

CNN Money quotes Elon Musk again referencing this electric pickup truck, but this time Musk aims squarely at the F-150 with his comment:

“If you’re trying to replace the most gasoline miles driven, you have to look at what people are buying.  That’s the best selling car in America. If people are voting that’s their car, then that’s the car we have to deliver.”

The best-selling car in America is indeed a truck: the Ford F-150.  Ford sold over half a million F series trucks in the first three quarters of 2013.  Imagine if Tesla had a vehicle that was targeted at that massive market.

Musk says that Tesla is considering an full-size electric truck, but admits that it’s at least 5 years year away from production (which likely means 7 to 10 years if we had to guess).

Is a full-size electric truck a wise choice for Tesla?  Or are the Big 3 established American trucks too established for Tesla to take on?

Source: Business InsiderCNN Money (also a hat tip to Paul)

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53 responses to "Elon Musk: Tesla to Make Its Own Electric Version of Ford F-150"

  1. Cavaron says:

    If it helps to convert more drivers to EVs – fine. BUT Model S first!

    1. Cavaron says:

      I meant Model E, of course… we need an edit-button here…

  2. Bill Howland says:

    If Via can get their act together, they might beat him on both “First to Market”, and price point. But I would assume Tesla is working with both Samsung and Matsushita (Panasonic) on a 120 kwh cost reduced battery making a 300 mile full size pickup relatively affordable.

  3. David Murray says:

    To “compete” with the F150 you need to have a compelling truck as well as be in their price range. I don’t even like trucks, so I guess they’ll need to consult with people that do in order to find out what they like.

  4. kdawg says:

    The more vehicles & sales, the more the cost of the technology can be spread. However a truck will require a new deign and factory, so there will be additional costs in those areas.

  5. Taser54 says:

    Elon daydreaming out loud again.

    VIA Motors already has done it, and their costs to produce their Vtrux will drop in the intervening years. If the market wants a pure EV truck, VIA will be in the best position to offer it. In 5, 7 or even 10 years, Tesla will not be able to viably compete in the full-size truck market.

  6. GeorgeS says:

    Here’s a Musk quote from another sight:
    “Something w ultra low cg for sports car handling, dynamic air suspension & mega torque.”

  7. Anon says:

    After the smaller “E” skateboard platform is finalized, Tesla should do what other Auto Makers do, and widely repurpose that underchasis for the new Roadster, 3 door Hatchback, Minivan, MiniSUV (think Baby X/ Rav4) and an S-10 Class Pickup Truck.

    This would drop the cost of vehicle production, speed development and strengthen Teslas’s portfolio of products. “E” will literally mean “everything” for the company’s longer term survival.

    Heavy Duty Trucks can come later. Work Trucks tend to be more abused by debris and minor accidents (from above as well as below), than expensive luxury sedans… And thus they would need reengineered for those harsher environments.

  8. Mark H says:

    It is difficult to answer questions about a market that will vastly evolve in a 10 year time period. Not to say that everybody will be driving an EV in ten years, but hopefully the battery technology will continue to make this one a reality as well. The truck has to be 7-10 years out for Musk. This is one more thing to like about Musk and that is his ability to stir the market by talking about future plans. Most CEOs want to keep future ideas close to their chest. I applaud Musk and Ghosn for not playing by the so called rules of engagement.

  9. Brian says:

    The good news for trucks – many of them are owned/operated as part of a business. Therefore, Tesla needs to make a business case for lifetime cost of ownership, not just initial purchase price. These people will be much more willing to run the numbers. Once Tesla is known as a truly capable (and competitively priced) work truck, the other owners will follow.

    At the same time, nowhere does brand loyalty seem to be more alive than with trucks. Ask a sedan driver to decide between an Accord and a Camry, and they’ll have a slight favorite. Ask a truck driver to decide between an F150 and a Ram, and they will have a huge preference based on brand.

  10. Dan Frederiksen says:

    America the stupid…. I think it’s a serious mistake to cater to idiots with electric cars and particularly problematic in an application that might drain a lot of battery in a very short time if they attach a heavy trailer with piss poor aero and drive 120km/h on the freeway.
    Not that it would ever come to that because those knuckledraggers would never buy an electric to begin with let alone a very expensive one which a Tesla no doubt would be

    You could MAYBE make a small commercial pickup. But a moronic hick poser like the F150… that seems stupid enough that it could be the death of Tesla Motors.

    It was clear that Elon never thought in terms of efficiency with the grotesque weight of model S but this F150 nonsense really cements that ignorance it seems.
    But on the other hand the opulent luxury image of Tesla that’s a result of that ignorance makes it more appealing to the people who are used to such waste. So it’s an easier transition other than the high cost and poor profitability that follows such waste. So who knows.. If half a million are sold, they might only need 5000 to survive.

    1. Anon says:

      And you’re trying to convince us that you’re waaay smarter that a guy who has a background in Physics, builds electric vehicles, and also designs reusable rockets that can land anywhere on the planet– under their own power?

      Excuse me while I laugh hysterically….. *Five Minutes Later– finally regains composure*

      If Mr. Musk wants to build his version of an F-150, to promote EVs in more market segments; he will do so without your blessing.

    2. Taser54 says:

      More proof that Dan is just a troll. If Dan was actually intelligent, he would have worked to improve his people skills to aquire the ability to persuade people. Or at least aquire the ability to diagree respectfully. Alas, Dan appears to be the internet’s bag of hammers.

      1. pjwood says:

        Dan lacks people skills, but is spot on with energy consumption and the implied density requirements of towing. Musk would have to leave pure EV behind in such an endeavor. Now, EREV would be a horse of a different color.

        Batteries can do a lot more for the first miles, of an unhitched ~18mpg truck, than they can for the 9mpg that truck might deliver when pulling a load. I imagine F-150s are a lot like cars, where most trips are short and the ones to “Granma’s” are, for many, about as numerous as the times they will tow.

        “Electric when you want it, gas when you need it”, applies.

        1. kdawg says:

          Here’s an EREV semi-truck.
          http://insideevs.com/renault-testing-extended-range-electric-semi-truck/

          I’m still looking for a link to the pure BEV semi-truck that is also being tested.

          Point is, if they can do it in a semi-truck, they can do it in something F150 sized.

        2. kdawg says:

          Here’s the company I was thinking of; Smith Electric.
          http://www.smithelectric.com/smith-vehicles/

          I guess it wasn’t a semi-truck, but still has a 8-ton payload.

          1. Jesse Gurr says:

            Here is a hydrogen electric hybrid truck, good for towing 40 tons, or 30 if you subtract the weight of the tractor.

            http://www.visionmotorcorp.com/tyrano.asp

            1. kdawg says:

              200 mile standard range might be an issue w/the lack of H2 stations. CNG would prob. be better, and there’s already somewhat of a CNG superhighway.

    3. David Stone says:

      I completely agree with you on the first part of your post.

      And again completely disagree with you on the second.
      For the range offered, the s is very efficient. Without range, the tech and desirability will not be pushed far enough to secure the future of evs.

      So, not much ignorance at Tesla about efficiency.

    4. philba says:

      happy to pile on…

      You are either a troll (idiots, knuckledraggers moronic comments) or completely delusional (or both). I think probably both.

      Perhaps the most telling comment in your screed is “opulent luxury… appealing to the people who are used to such waste”. Clearly you have no idea how efficient the Model S is. Plenty of articles analyzing this point and, it’s clear, even a heavy car like the MS uses less energy and certainly has a low lifetime carbon footprint. And, just looking at the energy consumed per mile, the S is way ahead of the game.

      So, presuming you aren’t being a troll, please actually have some knowledge of the topic if you wish to contribute.

  11. Jesse Gurr says:

    There is a lot of R&D that goes into trucks but I could see a small light duty truck maybe Ranger sized. Could be popular with some fleets like that pest control company that bought the last Ranger off the line. Don’t need a large truck and I wouldn’t like a van with all those chemicals in there with me. There wouldn’t be any competitors in that segment since all the major automakers pulled out. They could do really well with a small truck.

  12. Schmeltz says:

    I think if Musk wants to take a stab at building an electric pick-up truck, then more power to him!

  13. Loboc says:

    A Tesla truck will be more a Lincoln/Caddy not a Ford/GMC/Chevy/Ram. I can see electric traction being a good fit for a truck. Put all the power in the rear and lighten up the rest of the frame (or go uni-body).

    Anything larger than a 1/2 ton probably wouldn’t work as a pure EV. Too much sustained power for too long. 50gal of diesel power is how much battery again?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Well, Diesel is 140,000 British Thermal Units per gallon.
      50 gallons of Diesel fuel has an ultimate heat content of 7,000,000 BTU’s.
      Since 1 kwh is 3413 BTU’s that means it is 2051 kwh by heat content.

  14. Doug B says:

    How about a nice Tesla version of the classic VW bus, much loved in Tesla’s home state of California. That would be a winner for me.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Doug B it would be interesting to see if any of the VW to E-VW conversion places have converted the Microbus. Think of all the places you could shoe horn in a 400 mile range battery!

  15. Ocean Railroader says:

    As someone who owns a large gas guzzling truck I think it’s a great idea. But the truck he is planning on building must have four wheel drive and people able to handle driving down a muddy logging road with no problems. Also a lot of people buy big trucks to haul big bulky things around like we do.

    The biggest contemplates though about owning a big truck is the crappy 15 miles a gallon that they get and the fact that they can shallow $70 to a $100 dollars in a sitting at the gas station. But the idea of them building a big electric truck would make sense. Also I hope it doesn’t take seven years to build it in that I think some other joker could beat him the punch in that high gas prices and a large truck market are prefect to go after.

    1. KenZ says:

      Agreed. And if it has to handle off-road exploits, it also has to be able to withstand some reasonably serious impacts to the undercarriage which I’m not sure they’re ready for at this time. Not saying it can’t be done, but I for one have certainly bottomed out/been hung up on the underside numerous times, and it ain’t pretty. But you can usually drive away from it with a conventional 4WD truck. Not sure the current Tesla approach would work.

      And yeah, I agree that 98% of the F150 drivers likely never drive in these conditions, but it is certainly something that has to be accounted for.

      1. kdawg says:

        I’m guessing they would put the batteries in the truck-bed somewhere. Lots more real-estate & possibilities w/a truck.

        1. basementman says:

          Based on the pickup truck form factor, they could simply double-deck the skateboard.

    2. kdawg says:

      I think AWD isn’t a problem since the Model X is AWD.

  16. Bloggin says:

    Building a F-150 takes more than an electric drivetrain. Which is really all that Tesla has brought to the table that is new.

    If the Model S did not have an electric drivetrain, it would not sell at all. The body is nice looking, but the front end needs to look more premium, with less black plastic. The Model S is more of an electric toy than a replacement for a true luxury sedan.

    The interior design is nonexistent. The dash looking more like a kit car from a start up company. There is no comparison between the premium well executed interior of a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac or even Ford or Lincoln with the Tesla Model S.

    The Model S may sell more units that an individual S-Class or 7-Series, but it’s not taking any sales from MB or BMW as their model sales are on the rise.

    So heading into the full size truck arena may not work out well for Tesla. Full size trucks are purpose built, durability tested work horses. No place for electronic toys that might short out or catch fire when banged around.

    Tesla has much more to offer as they move more down the price range, with more economical, longer ev range sedans, coupes and SUVs for that largest market.

    Also, within 5 years, Ford will have a hybrid and plug-in/hybrid version of the real F-150.

    1. kdawg says:

      I agree w/you on the looks of the front end & the interior.
      Hopefully future generations = refining.

      I disagree w/the statements about “electric toys”. There’s no reason EV’s can’t be made as tough as (and actually tougher than) ICE trucks. For example EV’s don’t care about altitude or if they are upside down, not to mention many less moving parts.

      I have not heard about Ford developing a plug-in hybrid F-150??

      1. Bloggin says:

        True, EVs can eventually make it to consumer truck durability over time, as they should since EVs are the future. But not in 5-10 years. The military is working to add more plug-in vehicles, which is a good indicator that work is being done in that direction.

        Yes, on several occasions, Ford has mentioned that a hybrid and then plug-in hybrid is in the near future for the F-150. For a plug-in hybrid, it’s the tremendous torque provided by the electric motor at lower speeds, and tremendous fuel savings that makes the idea such a good one.

        If you remember, Ford was to work with Toyota on a hybrid powertrain for big trucks, but Ford reversed course, invested $500 million, hired more engineers and decided to do it on their own before 2020.

        1. kdawg says:

          All I could find was a *shudder* Fox News article on it.
          http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/07/24/ford-confirms-hybrid-f-150-on-sale-by-2020/

          I’ll be at the Detroit Auto Show in Jan, so hopefully they have something to show.

    2. James says:

      Bloggin’ – I disagree totally. Are you nuts, my man?!!

      – From your commentary: “If the Model S did not have an electric drivetrain, it would
      not sell at all”.

      Bloggin, the Model S is a beautiful car. It’s “decoration” in the place where a
      conventional ICE car’s grille would be located, is just that – a decoration. Model
      S’s designer has said many times it’s there because that is what people are
      accustomed to – they expect an EV to look like some form of sci-fi space module –
      ( Or BMW i3 – take your pick ). Model S has the beautiful lines of an Aston
      Martin, or Jaguar sports car WITHOUT making the blunder of looking like an
      elongated Porsche 911 ( see Panamera ). Model S seats 5 + 2 children – that’s
      unheard-of utility for a car that looks so sexy and sleek!

      Appearances are subjective, and your opinion can be whatever – but don’t come
      off so “authorative” and make yourself sound like an ass. So kDawg likes a car
      with a faux grille too – BIG DEAL — we’re all different, but can all agree Model
      S is sexy and sleek – NO GRILLE NEEDED.

      Yes, Model S outsells BMW’s 7 series and Mercedes’ S classe. It also encroaches
      on every Infinity, Lexus, BMW, Audi and Mercedes mid-size class. Yes, BMW 5
      and Mercedes E class folks are trading in their cars for Model S. Model S could
      thrive on just it’s powertrain alone – but goes stratospherically farther in possessing
      genius features those competitors do not. Not to go into detail, but read car nut’s
      revelations like Adam Carolla on YouTube and his various car-related blogs and
      videos. He, like so many others, are blown away by simple ways the Model S works
      that carmakers established 100 years ago haven’t even thought of. From the way
      you start/stop and unlock the car to the sleek, uncomplex – Euro-apartment feel
      of it’s interior design. “Why don’t other carmakers do it this way?!” , they say. And
      this is from a FIRST ATTEMPT at a worldbeater luxury performance sedan!!!

      Bloggin – you don’t sound at all like a car guy, or someone who knows the car
      market at all. I say drive one, compare it to that stinky, smelly 19th century-tech
      “luxury car” from Lincoln, Ford or Mercedes. Think of the luxury of avoiding
      ICE maintenance and expense – compare that with the luxury of silent running
      and listening to music unimpeded by engine noise. The term “luxury” used by
      guys like you doesn’t compute when used in Tesla terms. Do you have a
      huge iPad that operates your car’s functions built right in the dashboard?!
      Sorry, but to you, “luxury” means status quo – and your ilk just may be bamboozled
      into thinking luxury means “rich Corinthian leather” – even though it’s found in
      an outdated form of transportation.

  17. Tesla Fan says:

    I hate truck drivers, and my dad has a big dodge ram thats sitting under a tree waiting to be sold, majority of them are lames that they think their the shit because their high up lol

  18. Bill Howland says:

    Since Musk’s hostile take over of Tesla, he really can only claim to have been at the helm through the design, manufacture , and mass production of only one vehicle to date, the Model S. I would really wish Musk would help institute policies to clean up residual bugaboos with the S, than constantly muse about the 20 other vehicles he claims he’s going to make, and then double the price by the time the vehicle actually comes out, if ever. But perhaps all this meandering into the possible future keeps up his stock price, being the celebrity he is.

    I always state Musk is the New Steve Jobs, but maybe I’m giving him a bit too much credit. Jobs was a first class creep (see the current movie offering for only some of his personality), but to Jobs’ credit, the products he allowed to be manufactured were just about perfect, if overpriced. The model S is not quite as refined as Apple products, with the exception of the touch screen. Poor cold weather operation, somewhat skimpy floor mats and spartan interior finish plus an ongoing fear of the battery (think explosions in Mexico) would not be allowed in an Apple.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        I guess the 2 product lines have something in common.

    1. Jeff D says:

      Wow, what did Elon do to you to make you so grumpy? Sounds a little personal.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Not grumpy about him Jeff D; hopefully Musk is not the creep that Jobs was. But I am “put off” by him complaining what Mediocre Cars the Leaf and Volt are, when their respective CEO’s cannot say good enough things about the “S”, and don’t dare mention any of its deficiencies. But John Q. Public can state their minds, at least for a year or two more..

        1. Jeff D says:

          I can see that as being a turn off. Good thing we are getting more EVs to choose from, that way we can choose what we want for what ever reason we want it. Sometimes I see it as Musk being impatient with the pace development of electric vehicles in other companies, but it’s still not a good idea to bad mouth Nissan that is trying to be a leader in EVs.

  19. Spec9 says:

    Why not?

    One of the nice aspects of the Tesla design is the ‘skateboard’ base chassis that can basically be used to create a car with any body style. Now that they have the base drivetrain and chassis, they should pretty easily be able to build a sedan (Model S), a CUV (Model X), a pick-up, a mini-van, an SUV, or whatever.

  20. Stimpacker says:

    Big mistake, I think.

    The only buyers of a Tesla Truck will be at best, the weekend truck driver.

    I live in the suburbs of Northern California. Here, I see more trucks than there are in Texas (I go there often). The typical pickup truck driver will most likely have modified his truck with extra large tires, taller suspension and loud exhaust. If he is really young, then the mods are the same but the suspension will be lowered. He will always have a baseball cap on and most likely have a job related in some ways to the housing industry (oftentimes is a contractor). He will have a love of all things with a gas engine (e.g. dirt bike, ATV, boat). His preference for trucks will be something that conveys a macho image, hence GM, Ford or a Dodge Ram. His lesser peers will settle for something like a Nissan Titan.

    I cannot fathom this person buying a Tesla electric truck.

    I fit the profile of the weekend truck driver, i.e. I don’t need a truck as a daily driver, make enough to be able to afford one as a toy (just for the occasion when I need a truck), and am educated enough to believe in the virtues of an electric car. Even then, I’d think twice before buying an electric truck. My truck will occasionally haul a load (e.g. help someone move). I can’t imagine how I will be able to enter a stall to SuperCharge without messing around with removing my load.

  21. scott moore says:

    EV trucks make sense for fleets, like the gas company or city inspectors, etc. These are folks who own a lot of them, have really scary gas bills, make short trips, park in a central lot, and ultimately, can take another vehicle if one is occupied charging. The biggest problem there would be that many such users have already converted to CNG.

    For ma and pa companies, that still works, think the pool service guy. A bit of education is required.

    For the idea that “trucks are really popular in the USA”, that’s a tough sell. Put aide those that buy a truck and don’t haul anything, but just like the image. They are not going to be the most likely EV buyers. The rest are like me, and use a truck because:

    1. The cost to own a truck (total cost of ownership) is less than the cost to own a sedan and rent a truck once a month to haul things.

    2. Towing.

    EVs aren’t going to be up to the ability to tow anytime soon. My humble ranger can tow 5000 lbs and go 500 miles on a tank, those are hard statistics to beat.

  22. One can’t help but wonder if the coverage of the very distant future Tesla truck has been prompted by the recent VIA announcements. When, in a rational world, is a five year distant automobile, with not so much as a concept sketch, news?

  23. Foo says:

    Would a Tesla truck be…. Model T?

  24. James says:

    Mr. Musk can talk all he wants, but attacking the truck market will take a whole
    lot more time and expense than the car company will have for some time. It makes
    a great headline to distract from all the misleading negative headlines blowing around.
    Elon talks truck, but he knows he must stay the course on Model X and E, and
    continue there for quite some time.

    In the truck realm, GM and Ford have it pretty easy, and will be promoting diesels
    like there is no tomorrow. When gas is this cheap – people don’t think too much about
    saving it. It’s in Spring/Summer when they bitch and moan and this looks to be
    the case for the next couple years, providing Iran doesn’t send a nuke over to
    Israel, or sink an American tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. Any burp over there
    and gas prices react immediately.

    VIA has the correct take IMHO. You retain that vital tough rail frame, you have
    lots of protection for your lithium packs, and a great electric option to run power
    tools or go Vehicle-to-grid. The 4 or 6 cyl. range-extender fits perfectly into
    the job title of working trucks – and what John Q. American believes he will do
    with his big truck ( and rarely does too much more than haul a couch or
    plywood from Home Depot, then use the thing to commute ).

    Will the Big 3, plus Japanese competition work hard at changing the truck
    biz anytime soon. Nope. And Tesla has bigger fish to fry at the moment. The
    domestic truck builders could have a VIATRUX on the market for about what
    current buyers pay for their special edition, leather-lined, infotainment-equipped
    extra cab models with 4 Wheel Drive. The costs of the battery packs and
    technology made up for my economies of scale ( big big scale ). Of course
    they won’t do it unless forced to. Tesla cannot be that force for quite a few
    years into the future.

  25. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Elon Musk is ONLY doing this to elevate stock price.

    For today’s battery technology, it is NOT possible.

    An electric pickup will be lucky to do 3 miles/KWh unloaded. If it is hauling or towing, it will be lucky to do 1.5 to 2 miles per KWh in terms of efficiency. Let us assume it is 1.5 miles/KWh, a 200 miles range would require at least 135KWh. With 25% in grade and weather derating, it would need at least a 170KWh battery for it to have any real world usage. That is 2x the size of battery on the P85 Model S. Also, it would have to cost less than $35k…..

    Unless Elon can invent the cheap battery necessary, everything else are just hot air….

  26. GSP says:

    Elon has predicted “everything, with the ironic exception of rockets.”

    Trucks will need much higher battery capacities, of course. Here is some recent work by the DOE on port drayage trucks. Unlike the F-150 or future Tesla offerings, these are “full sized” trucks:

    http://www4.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/resources/merit-review/sites/default/files/vss115_choe_2013_o.pdf

    GSP

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Well, there are no price attached with it. They are in the 120KWh to 360KWh range and range is still below 200 miles. Sure, they are FAR heavier, but the top speed expected are also much lower. Some of the larger battery packs are actually for Hybrids with Fuel Cells…

  27. Light trucks have long been one of the most popular platforms for EVs:

    1994-1995 US Electricar truck based on GM S-10 glider
    Hughes motor and controller. (the folks who make satellites)

    1997-1998 Chevrolet S-10 Electric.

    1997-2002 Ford Ranger EV.