An electric truck? Is such a thing even possible? And if so, is it affordable?
Believe it or not, the answer to all three of these questions is yes. Or, at least, the answer will be yes soon enough. The secret is to be patient and find a great deal on some of the best used electric trucks.
These days, all kinds of vehicles are being outfitted with electric powertrains. In this way, the whole automotive industry is going through something of a Renaissance. The impossible has become possible, and it’s no stretch to suggest that electric vehicles—cars, SUVs, trucks, and more—will overtake traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in popularity before too long.
On the flip side, the Tesla Cybertruck looks retro-futuristic. Like something out of an arcade game from 1987. If it doesn’t come equipped with front-mounted alien blasters with infinite ammo, we’ll be sorely disappointed. Source: Tesla.
Electric Trucks: The Situation as of Summer 2020
Now, before we dive into this, a quick disclaimer: currently, as of summer 2020, there are no electric pickup trucks available to be purchased in the United States. A number of brands like Ford, Nikola, Tesla, Atlis, GMC, and others have been working on prototypes and seeking to make their first impressions on the US EV market.
(In case you were wondering, yes there are in fact two electric vehicle brands named after famed early-20th-century scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla. Tesla was a legend in his time who shocked people both literally and figuratively. Apparently, his intellect and magnetic personality was just too much for innovators of today to resist.)
Nikola Tesla, the man who made science sexy. Source: The New York Times.
For example, the Tesla Cybertruck is currently scheduled to begin production in late 2021, with single-motor RWD production beginning in late 2022. Right now, the best you can do is reserve your model.
However, that doesn’t mean that buying a used electric truck is out of the question. Quite the contrary. Let us explain.
The 5 Best Used Electric Trucks
The trick with buying a used electric truck (or used anything, really) is to be patient. After all, these trucks aren’t even out yet. You have to wait for people to buy the first round of models and give them a test drive.
After a while, some of these moneybags first-buyers will grow tired of their electric trucks and want to sell them. In order to get one used, you need to keep a watchful eye on the used EV market and snap one up as soon as it hits the listings.
1. Tesla Cybertruck
Source: Car and Driver.
The Tesla Cybertruck is probably the most recognizable electric truck. It’s easy to see why. Aesthetically, there’s nothing else like it, and its look is … different, to say the least. But hey, that’s what everyone thought about the original iPhone, and look where we are now.
Jay Leno checking out a Cybertruck with Elon Musk. Even with real people in the image, it still looks like something out of an arcade game. Source: InsideHook.
It’s all made of scratch- and dent-resistant stainless steel, and Tesla promises that it can tow up to 14,000 lbs. Tesla claims that the Cybertruck boasts an estimated range of 500 miles on a single charge. However, be aware that this figure applies only to the top-of-the-line model with the biggest battery pack. This version will cost in the $65,000 range. Less expensive Cybertruck models promise to start around $39,000. Final versions will go into production in late 2021.
These different versions present a valuable opportunity to pick up a used Cybertruck. Once Mr. First-Buyer has had some fun with a base model and decides to upgrade, a few used Cybertrucks will start popping up on the market.
According to the guys at The Tesla Experience, “it reminds me of a military-grade vehicle, like a Hummer or a tank. It’s meant for all-terrain [driving].” They added that the Cybertruck “is not trying to be something attractive; it’s trying to be something useful. Its purpose is to be a workhorse, not a show pony. Function over form.” And honestly, once you think of it that way, the design makes a lot more sense. Why should the strongest and most effective vehicle design look like a traditional pickup truck?
2. Rivian R1T
Originally announced back in 2018 under the guise of the Rivian A1T, the R1T currently in development promises to be one of the sleekest and most efficient electric trucks when it is finally released.
As with most of these vehicles, the R1T promises quite a lot. It will offer over 400 miles of range, all-wheel drive, the output equivalent of 750 HP, a towing limit of 11,000 pounds (putting it on par with the Ford F-150), and a 0–60 time of 3 seconds.
Take a gander at all that storage space. Source: FutureCar.
If that weren’t enough, it will come with a hefty amount of storage space, and we’re not just talking about the truck bed. Remember, this is an EV: the space under the hood is for storage too. There’s so much storage space in the R1T that you’ll wonder where all the electronic parts even are.
The Rivian R1T was originally priced at $69,000. However, Rivian has indicated that this price will only apply to the fully equipped model and less expensive versions would become available thereafter. Our strategy here is to wait for multiple models of the R1T to become available and snag a used truck as soon as someone decides to upgrade models.
For example, the R1T promises to come with 3 battery pack options: a mid-range 135 kWh (300 miles of range); a “base model” with 105kWh battery (230 miles of range), and presumably a “long-range” model yet to be unveiled. If you’re not picky about which battery and model you get, you might be able to grab a used R1T on the cheap.
3. Nikola Badger
The Badger from Nikola looks like something out of Blade Runner: plenty of neon lights and a cool, austere exterior. Source: Nikola Motor.
Coming to you from the other EV company named after Nikola Tesla, the badger is a (relatively) small electric pickup that promises to get 600 miles on a single charge. This comes on top of 906 HP and a solid torque of up to 980 lb-ft. It is able to achieve this using an FCEV hydrogen fuel cell and lithium-ion powertrain.
You can also preorder it as a traditional EV version with a battery. It remains to be seen which version Nikola will put front and center of its upcoming lineup.
A rendering of the interior of the Nikola Badger. Looks pretty ‘Star-Treky’ to us. Source: Autocar.
The Badger further boasts a 2.9-second 0–60 MPH time, a towing capacity of up to 4 tons and provides a 15-kW outlet for tools or other equipment you might need to power or charge. Nikola promises that this truck will operate perfectly even at temperatures of -20 degrees F or lower.
According to Dave Sparks, an automotive reviewer from Salt Lake City, the Nikola Badger “is a whole different animal” from other electric pickup trucks. “It’s a truck for the people, by the people,” he added. “Up until now, diesel was the only option when it came to heavy towing … if you need a truck that has a longer duty cycle to pull those steeper hills with bigger loads, that’s why you have the hydrogen fuel-cell option. The hydrogen fuel cell complements the battery in every way.”
As a word of caution, be aware that the Nikola Badger—unlike the Cybertruck—has not yet been unveiled as a physical prototype. Automotive critics and reviewers have not actually seen the Badger, and there are no plans to unveil a prototype until December at the earliest. As far as we can tell, the physical truck has yet to be seen by anyone outside of Nikola.
We at car-engineer.com generally recommend against reserving a vehicle that no external reviewer has physically seen yet. However, this is all the more reason to hold out for now and grab a used Badger. It might be a while, but good things come to those who wait.
4. Electric Ford F-150
Source: Car and Driver.
Let’s round out this list with an electrified spin on a classic pickup truck. We’re talking, of course, about the Electric Ford F-150. Like most trucks on this list, the Electric F-150 is expected to debut sometime in 2021.As such, details about it are scarce at the moment.
However, Ford has indicated that the first Electric F-150 will take a hybrid approach. They promise that it will include a PowerBoost gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain, a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine, along with integrated 35-kW electric motor. Most experts predict that the Electric F-150 will at least be able to match a 12,000 lb. towing capacity.
In subsequent model years, the F-150 will go full electric. Ford currently has plans to add a complete battery-electric drivetrain. And therein lies the opportunity to buy used. Keep your eyes peeled for a hybrid version that first-time buyers discarded in favor of a fully electric F-150. This may be the best chance in the upcoming two years to grab a top-class hybrid pickup truck.