Nine electric bakkies we’d love to drive
South Africans might be divided when it comes to the prospect of electric mobility, but where we aren’t split is in our love for the good ol’ bakkie genre.
Maybe these intriguing contenders would expedite the collective public acceptance of electrification?
In no particular order, here are nine electric pick-ups we would love to see and experience in the metal.
It looks brilliant: a clean design that manages to be modern and muscular, replete with frontal intakes that resemble fangs. But there’s a lot more to the Rivian R1T (above) than handsome aesthetics. Its makers extol the inclusion of eight driving modes, a 0-96km/h time of three seconds and a claimed range of more than 600km. The space availed by an electric powertrain has been smartly utilised – there’s a nifty gear hatch between cabin and rear bed, for example. Rivian proved the off-road capability of their pick-up over the TransAmerica trail, spanning coast to coast. The vehicle also has autonomous driving functions, relying on 11 cameras and a dozen ultrasonic radars.
Ford F-150 Lightning
Following the Mustang Mach E, the F-150 Lightning is Ford’s next big push at taking its electric ambitions to the mainstream. The Lightning series is sold parallel to the internal combustion derivatives in the US. It is a range that covers the bases of application, right from the workhorse-focused Pro to the upmarket, leisure-oriented Platinum. In extended battery guise, the F-150 is capable of producing 419kW and 1,050Nm. It also boasts a home integration system which would allow owners to power their homes in the event of an outage. Load-shedding? No problem. Not likely that the F-150 would be sold in SA, but perhaps we could hope for an electrified Ranger down the line.
Chevrolet Silverado EV
The electrified pick-up from the golden bowtie brand looks a little more futuristic than its rival from Ford. It offers four-wheel steering, air suspension and hands-free driving capability. A panoramic sunroof promises to alleviate cabin claustrophobia. Like the Ford, it has a massive frontal trunk area, supplementing the loading space of the rear cargo bed. Its infotainment system uses a Linux-based operating system, with a 17-inch infotainment system taking centre stage. Digitisation is a big part of the deal, with an 11-inch screen serving as the instrument cluster, as well as a 14-inch head-up display system. The manufacturer will add a more hardcore, off-road version to the range, dubbed Trail Boss.
GMC Hummer EV
Like Chevrolet, Hummer was a brand with an official presence in SA for some time. Forget the fuel-munching forebears of old: Hummer has been reinvented as a silent, eco-friendly off-road assassin. It uses the same platform as the Chevrolet Silverado EV. Think of it as the more flamboyant cousin. It too has four-wheel steering, which ties in to a special “Crabwalk” function – basically diagonal driving. This function, according to the brand, helps it traverse tricky terrain with greater ease. An “infinity roof” offers detachable panels, uniting occupants with the elements. A terrain-mashing behemoth with an environmentally-friendly conscience? That’s the new Hummer for you.
SA-born Elon Musk never fails to court controversy. T the same seems to hold true for products from his Tesla automobile brand. The Cybertruck looks unlike anything ever to see series production. It strikes one as the mutant pick-up version of a DeLorean DMC-12, with razor-sharp edges that look as if they would impale other vehicles in a collision. The Cybertruck (stylised by the company in a graffiti-like font) has a stainless steel “exoskeleton” and uses polymer-layered glass. Said glass wasn’t as tough as its makers claimed, as an infamous demonstration gone wrong by Musk proved. The production version of the Cybertruck was planned for 2022, but earlier this year Musk confirmed it would be delayed until next year.
Ram 1500 EV
Ram, a Stellantis brand, was not about to leave the electric pick-up battle in the US to rivals Ford and Chevrolet. Earlier this year it showed sketches previewing the arrival of its 1500 EV, scheduled to launch in 2024. “Ram will offer fully electrified solutions in the majority of its segments by 2025, and a full portfolio of electrified solutions for all of its segments no later than 2030,” the company said. Locally, outfits like US Trucks import and execute right-hand drive conversions on Ram vehicles and other pick-ups not sold here. In all likelihood, this is the only way we may get to see electrified Ram offerings on our shores.
A hardy, square electric bakkie inspired by the spirit of iconic military-bred off-roaders? That’s the Bollinger B2. While rivals have taken a more lifestyle-focused approach, the rudimentary Bollinger was positioned as a commercial vehicle partner, with exposed rivets and hinges adding to the authenticity of its tough character. We say “was” because the B2 was stillborn. Earlier this year the company announced it would be suspending its plans for the model to focus on delivery vehicles instead.
Nikola was yet another start-up that ditched its pick-up plans to focus instead on heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Its Badger not only looked futuristic, it also promised a radical electric-hydrogen powertrain. Initially, the company had entered a partnership agreement with General Motors to develop the model, but plans changed. This ultimately meant the Badger amounted to nothing more than a tantalising series of renderings. Still, it would have been cool – planned features even included a built-in water fountain for those thirsty moments in the great outdoors.
SA entrepreneur Nhlanhla Mazibuko announced an ambitious plan to develop the continent’s first electric pick-up. Dubbed the M1B, it will be the genesis product from the brand that bears his surname. In March last year colleague Phuti Mpyane interviewed Mazibuko, whose concept is still in the virtual design phase.
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