Model U - The Tesla Pickup Truck

Model U - The Tesla Pickup Truck

I thought this was a nice write-up about the future of Tesla Pickup.
The best Tesla pickup truck mock-up to date!

Tstolz | 06. august 2016

I liked it too. May need to be a bit more macho though to appeal to red necks.

Silver2K | 06. august 2016

I thought the T taillights were a really nice touch. the curve on the back windows need to be squared though to add some macho

quassinoid | 06. august 2016

Thanks for sharing; not a bad write-up. The article is obviously better aligned with Tesla's vision than previous articles. I can already hear EM doing the intro. - "We wanted to design an electric pickup truck that is the best pickup truck in the world, and show that that is what an electric vehicle can be." When can I put my deposit down? :)

leadfoot_ed | 07. august 2016

Hello. I'm actually the original author of the article. Most of the ideas were mine. It did go through an internal editorial review process, and a few changes were made to the article that I didn't entirely agree with, but the overall concept and theme remained faithful. The main objective was to merge Tesla's design language and philosophy with the needs and desires of high-end truck buyers, with a focus on practicality and usability. I hope you felt we did the concept justice. I also want to acknowledge the artistic talent of the graphic artist, Kris Horton ( He was fantastic to work with, and as you can see from the photos, very talented. Many people's reaction when they first saw it was "When is it coming out?" and "When can I buy it?" The renders are pretty convincing! Thanks for the kind words.

MilesMD88 | 07. august 2016

Enjoyed your article. I went from a 2000 Silverado to a 2015 P85D! Go figure, right. Just never found anything to replace my Silverado. I drove it 5K miles annually. I gave it to my son when he got his license. We have to keep it around for a 26ft boat that I trailer.
I certainly can see me going with a Tesla truck. You had a lot of great ideas. I love trucks!

leadfoot_ed | 07. august 2016

Hi Miles! Thanks. One idea I had that I lobbied hard to keep in the story that was overruled was a powered trailer. Basically, an auxiliary battery pack, and motorized wheels. It would serve as a range extender, as well as giving greater control over the trailer, and reducing the stress and thermal load of the vehicle motors and battery pack by distributing the propulsion and power responsibilities. The trailer and vehicle would share a dynamic power and data connection through a wiring harness. The main objection to including it in the feature was cost, as the trailer alone would probably be at least $50,000. If you're talking something like a travel trailer, probably more than $100k, but the higher-end Airstreams are about that anyway. Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the trailer concept.

Red Sage ca us | 08. august 2016

Yes. It is a rather decent article. My thoughts...

+ Full-Sized Crew Cab Dually, Uniframe
+ Dual Motor Four Wheel Drive
+ 170 kWh to 220 kWh
+ 15,000 lbs Towing Capacity
+ 200 mile range while towing

- Mid-Sized/Small Two-Seat Pickup
- Modular, portable battery pack
- Solar panels on roof
- In-wheel motors
- Leaf Spring or Live Axle

grantwatson | 08. august 2016

@ Leadfoot: Overall, not a bad bit of wishful speculation, but I'd respectfully suggest that you reconsider this part:

"Removing the battery and placing it in the bed would be an easy two-person job, with the battery sliding in and locking to the Model U’s bed floor rail system."

Considering the weight of the current 90 KWh batteries, if you'd said "an easy 8-person job" I would have said "we'll see about that!"

leadfoot_ed | 08. august 2016

@grantwatson...Yes. That was not my idea. That was stubbornly inserted by the group content director. I explained to him that an auxiliary pack would be large, heavy and unwieldy. He insisted it was an "easy two man job." Right....He even vetoed my idea of a cantilevered dismount & dolly system for it, which would have made it marginally more feasible. Can't win them all.

Red Sage ca us | 08. august 2016

Yeah. By the time such a thing were an 'easy two man job', the truck would have a 1,200 mile standard range, and have no need of a 'modular, portable battery pack'. A Tesla Model P 600 would be nice!

Not Ready for P... | 08. august 2016

Elon already announced that the next Model will be named the Model Y. So the most likely name for any future model will be the Model 2. Making the new complete Tesla product line... 2SEXY.

Tropopause | 08. august 2016

Uncle Fookie,

Just need to follow up with two more models names "I" and "M"



Not Ready for P... | 08. august 2016


Red Sage ca us | 08. august 2016

Since MSN had appropriated an article from TRUCK TREND, here is the link to the original article:

'Model U -- The Tesla Pickup Truck'

I would have made it a dually, and used the bed support rails (ie, El Camino, Ridgeline, Avalanche) that no one other than me likes instead of a plain vertical rear window...

Seems a little on the small side to me, like a Ranger, Dakota, S-10, Tacoma, or Frontier with King Cab instead of Crew Cab...

And there's no way I would have a detached bed, leaf springs, or live axle.

leadfoot_ed | 08. august 2016

@Red Sage...Yeah, we've gotten a lot of feedback that it looks like a midsize. It was intended to be fullsize (half-ton), but it's hard to convey the size in the renderings without a reference point. I think it would be cool to do a dualie HD concept at some point. Re: Leaf springs & live axle...Don't worry, it has neither of those. Fully independent air spring suspension!

Re: Separate box...Funny you mention that. There was discussion at one point about making it either like a Ridgeline or Avalanche, but that was vetoed. Strangely, having a physically separate cab & bed seems to be a big deal with truck guys. Although they're separate in our concept, they're both atop a "skateboard" like chassis, similar to the S and X, the only major difference being the in-wheel motors, which were chosen for packaging advantages. We are aware of the tradeoff with unsprung weight.

Pungoteague_Dave | 08. august 2016

The issue is price. You can buy a new full-size pickup today for $2k on the road, albeit with rubber floors and roll-up windows. Tough to beat commodity pricing in an EV format.

Pungoteague_Dave | 08. august 2016

Sorry, typo. Meant $20k

Tstolz | 08. august 2016

Where I live it's pretty common to spend $75,000 on a truck ... there is a market!

quassinoid | 08. august 2016

Someone on Twitter already took credit for this, but Model B in front of the existing Tesla lineup would also keep the logic going.

leadfoot_ed | 08. august 2016

We picked "U" for "Utility" and also, symbolically, it somewhat resembles a pickup bed. I know it's a little bit of a stretch, but "P" (for 'pickup') was summarily rejected.

Pungoteague_Dave | 09. august 2016

@Tstolz "Where I live it's pretty common to spend $75,000 on a truck ... there is a market!"

It is not common, or even possible, to spend $75k on a full size pickup truck. It is virtually impossible to spend that much on a Ford F-150 unless you buy the Raptor model, which is currently not priced for 2017, but the last model came in at around $70k. My fully loaded Platinum '16 F150 with 11,400-pound towing capacity came to $66,500 list price. My price was $62k. It is possible to option the F150 Limited up closer to $68k, or $63k on the road, but that's the top. You cannot spend more than that for a luxury full size pickup from a regular manufacturer (except a special limited model like a Raptor).

Pickup trucks are designed for sale to commercial users first, and optioned up to luxury levels for private use second. The high volume levels that make the F150 the number one vehicle sold are due to the millions of plumbers, carpenters, farmers, utilities, and government agencies that buy them in the $20-$30k range, for real work.

I have three F-150's, with two more on order. One is the Platinum outlined above, and four of them were priced at about $23k list, and I paid about $19,500 with Virginia taxes and tags, after discounts, on the road. They have 8' beds, no rear seats, spray-in bed liners, roll up windows, vinyl bench seats, and our oyster farm's name, logo and phone number on the side. That's the target market for any real pickup maker with volume objectives. Tesla cannot make an S battery for what we pay for complete work trucks, much less a battery that could tow a boat for service, or 900 miles in a day like I did last week. Our trucks have 36-gallon tanks and go over 700 miles between fueling stops, unless towing, when it is 450 miles. That's the kind of utility required in a real pickup truck.

Volume is everything when it comes to pricing. Add on the ridiculous impact on range when towing with an X, you'd be limited to around-town heavy work, for part of the day. No one except eccentrics like us will pay $100k for a truck that has less utility than a $50k luxury ICE pickup. The genius of the S, and soon the 3, is no-compromises comparison with ICE alternatives. Current Teslas (excluding the silly X) meet up in almost every area, and exceed expectations in others. Weight and range are key to truck owners, but are death to EVs. Rock and hard place. If Elon does it, it will be an ego trip akin to the X doors, and be a product so far above the market that it will be laughed at by the media instead of applauded, as has mostly been the case so far for Tesla models.

leadfoot_ed | 09. august 2016

@Pungoteague_Dave...True...the current ceiling for half-tons is around $65k, give or take. However, if you throw HD pickups into the mix, it goes quite a bit higher. Up to about $85,000. I think the current sweet spot for fullsize trucks, at least from the OE standpoint is between $40-55k. Obviously, the market would be a lot larger for a truck in that price range than one priced in the $80-100k range. It's the difference between being a niche product and a mainstream product. I would be thrilled if Tesla could bring a pickup to the market for around $45-50k to start, well-equipped. Whether or not it can be optioned up into the six figures doesn't really matter for me. As long as the base or somewhat affordable version offers a competitive range and useful features, what do I care if a customer wants to order free-range Patagonian wool carpeting and Kobe Shiatsu-massaged acid-free artisanal leather?

Tropopause | 09. august 2016

Definitely agree that a Tesla pick-up truck will require the Gigafactory to decrease battery costs and increase energy density.

Model 3 starts at $35k with a modest battery size. I imagine a truck would need a large battery which would cost more.

Elon has said no plans to build a cheaper Tesla so the truck will probably cost more than Model 3 and thus will compete against high-end pick-ups.


How do you like the aluminum body of the Platinum F-150?

rxlawdude | 09. august 2016

@PD - " My fully loaded Platinum '16 F150 with 11,400-pound towing capacity came to $66,500 list price. My price was $62k."
Somehow, I expected you to be a better negotiator than to accept a $4,500 discount. (I mean this in a kidding way, but it was not unusual for me to negotiate discounts off MSRP in that range for vehicles costing less than half of $66K.)

thranx | 09. august 2016

Still looking for the built-in 220 and/or 110 outlets on the side of the truck to eliminate the need to carry a generator to power tools.

thranx | 09. august 2016

Oops...should've read the article first.

leadfoot_ed | 09. august 2016

@thranx...Yes! We thought of that. Not all of the features we talk about in the article were included in the rendering. If you look closely at the rear angle with the tailgate down, you'll see a small panel with a power plug icon on it. We would probably also have an exterior panel with power plugs as well. We also envisioned an on-board air compressor to power air tools. Utility was top-of-mind when we were envisioning the concept.

mjwellman | 09. august 2016

Love some of the concepts they are talking about for the truck. very excidting. My only complaint is the lack of imagination of what the truck will look like. Every drawing looks like a beefed up MS. Really? I don't think they will do that. It will be a variant of the current truck design looking more like a F-150 or Ram Charger.

Red Sage ca us | 09. august 2016

Pungoteague_Dave: Oh?

MSRP Range*
$32,535 - $77,125

brando | 09. august 2016
Red Sage ca us | 09. august 2016

A lot is made of the Ford F-150. Those are really nice trucks. I like them.

There is no way in hell I would recommend that Tesla Motors take on the Ford F-150 directly, any more so than I would be so silly as to claim they should build a direct competitor to the Toyota Camry.

But I would absolutely recommend that the primary target of a Tesla Motors full-sized pickup truck be the Heavy Duty and Super Duty varieties of America's favorite pickup trucks. So, that would be the Ford F-350, F-450, and F-550 varieties. That is a great idea, just as is taking on the Lexus IS F-Sport with a Performance version of the Tesla Model ☰.

A little over 20 years ago, Sega was preparing to release a new videogame system, the Saturn, as their high end console. They had what they believed was a great strategy. They would offer a different range of games for a wide variety of consumers. So, they had Game Gear for portables, Genesis for people who weren't ready to upgrade, 32X and Sega CD as attachments to Genesis for those who were interested in new gaming experiencea, a line of games for PC, and a separate Arcade division in addition to the brand new Saturn.

Sony came out with the PlayStation, their sole offering in the videogame market, told everyone it was all they needed, and that very possibly, they were not ready for it...

Result? Everyone and their Grandmother's Sister Sarah bought the PlayStation and entirely ignored the Saturn. See, what Sega forgot was that little boys always want to play with their big Brother's toys.

This is a lesson that Tesla Motors would do well to keep in mind. By taking on the Big Boys directly, the Heavy Duty and Super Duty level of pickup trucks, they would be in a market segment where they could immediately compete on price, range, and towing capability on the high end. In this way they could immediately emphasize the best points about electric drive by providing all the torque and horsepower in abundance for any application. After establishing a strong reputation there, it would carry on to vehicles that cost less as they were added to the product line.

Settling on Ford F-150, or worse, Ranger capability to start would be a major mistake. It would be the same mistake that Toyota made when offering the very first version of the Tundra as no more than a Tacoma with a slightly larger body and bed. It ruined their reputation in the full-sized market because the Tundra fell so far short of the very basic payload and towing capabilities of the F-150, Silverado 1500, and RAM 1500 pickup trucks.

2017 Ford Super Duty F-450 Platinum -- $77,125 starting MSRP

Silver2K | 09. august 2016

I moved this thread to general only because they are just that and was irritating some people when I shadowed it to the model s forum to capture a larger audience.

Tstolz | 09. august 2016

@PD - I was referring to people spending big bucks on trucks including 3/4 and 1 tons ... easily up to $75,000 (also ... I'm Canadian eh!)

I agree we likely won't see a Tesla truck until the batteries are 'there' .. this however could be as early as 2020 for the early adopters and 2025 to be fully competitive with current trucks. EVs don't need to be cheaper than ICE age vehicles since they have many advantages ... Smooth power, torque at 0 rpm, lower fuel and repair costs, regen braking, plus the likelihood of a much longer life ... all matter and will be part of a purchase decision.

leadfoot_ed | 09. august 2016

Regarding half-ton vs. HD. In terms of sales volumes, half-tons dominate by a significant margin. I guess it's a question of going after volume vs. targeting a niche market. Guys (or gals) that just want "a truck" typically get half-tons. HD buyers are typically a lot more deliberate about their choice, and buy it for the primary function of towing or hauling. At the launch of the '17 Super Duty, which I attended, the product manager said 90 percent of Super Duty buyers tow with their trucks. For half-tons, I'd venture it's 35 percent or less. Not that there wouldn't be a market for an HD/commercial-oriented truck, but the meat of the market is half-tons.

Red Sage ca us | 10. august 2016

Here in California, towing is limited to 55 MPH maximum by law. That doesn't change the fact that people with their mega-diesel dually trucks go out of their way to brag about how they can tow a camper or boat at upwards of 85 MPH "Like there ain't nuthin' back there!" I've learned that in certain States, that practice is both commonplace and expected behavior. So, they add a 55 gallon reserve tank and tow to their heart's content.

I'm not sure if I believe the claims that such trucks are literally rated to tow over 30,000 lbs though. My guess is that if they tried their overall range would be reduced to below 1/4 at speed, no matter their fuel reserve. I think that a solid, dependable 15,000 lbs towing capacity that would exceed 200 miles at worst, and possibly be as much as 300 miles when fully loaded would make a Tesla Pickup Truck worth a look for those who operate on highways most of the time, instead of off-road.

No matter how many vehicles Tesla Motors builds of any type, Naysayers will always claim it is a 'niche market'. That will be the case even when they outsell everyone else that previously offered that type of vehicle. The trick is for Tesla to choose each niche carefully and make sure it is a place where the advantages of their technology can shine through as a desirable bonus to those who make informed choices.

brando | 10. august 2016

@Red Sage

Seems you are proposing the Model S strategy applied to a Pickup Truck design.
If you are going to build the best you can, best in class, best period, you can't build for economy prices, right? I'm with you.

Air suspension, as Elon has noted, so Truck rides properly at all load levels.

I suggest add-on battery pack to the bottom of existing battery pack as an option.
(perhaps even a "rental" for those special trips when you need extra capacity)
And we also have the truck bed for extra battery packs.

I won't try to speculate on costs and engineering, but seems worthy of considering. Spread Sheets make for fine modeling - just as the Roadster designers used.
or the MIT club presentation (Marc Tarpenning, all should have seen his story of Tesla)
So you can watch either one.

I would mention Ian Wrights (Tesla founder) approach which in light of battery supplies/demand might be a fine idea for the next decade or two.
Perhaps the physics of your heavy duty truck better met by Ian design?
Certainly all garbage trucks should be retro fitted with his product.

I suspect a model 3 based pickup will also sell well, but not really needed until after a Model 3 based SUV. Perhaps only when/if Model 3 based sedan/SUV sales demand fall off.

For the miniVan, how about 15 seat version?
4 rows of 3 seats
Front using McClaren F1 3 seat style - driver in the center, passengers on each side.
No need for both left and right driver configurations.
Extend front and rear over hangs as needed for space and safety.

Enough of my ramblings. Enjoy.

leadfoot_ed | 18. august 2016

Hi guys. I attempted to share the Facebook Live video we recently did on the making of the Model U concept, but the URL was blocked as spam. It's on the Truck Trend Facebook, and is also at the end of the story link that Red Sage shared. I've submitted a report to the admins to let it through, but in the meantime, hope you enjoy it.

Red Sage ca us | 18. august 2016

leadfoot_ed: I saw the video on Facebook and posted there, along with a couple of (bad) renderings I did a couple of years ago.

Uhm... It should be full sized, crew cab, a dually, dual motor all wheel drive, with an integrated bed -- not detached, and a 15,000 lbs towing capacity.
Tesla Model P with a 170 kWh to 220 kWh battery pack capacity.
In-wheel motors suck. You couldn't do worse by keeping a live axle and leaf springs. No removable, detachable, modular batteries -- they are HEAVY. And no solar panels either -- because it would gain you at most a few feet of range per week.

brando | 18. august 2016

@Red Sage wrote;

No removable, detachable, modular batteries -- they are HEAVY.

We all know batteries are heavy. Why not modular add-on? Isn't this a good way to get extra power only when needed? Or should we just wait 10 years for battery improvement to double?

thanks for any clarification

brando | 23. august 2016

I like the "power train in the trailer" idea.

@leadfoot_ed +1, +1 again!

d4ithi | 27. august 2016

The American pickup market is utterly different to Europe and most of the rest of the world. That's the biggest issue Tesla has to contend with first.

I need a true off-road capable vehicle for doing work on the farm that I don't want to drag the tractor out for. It also has to cut it for getting me out to work in my second jobs in wielding and repairing quarry machines and season contract jobs in construction. No American pickup is suitable for me in Europe.

I would like an electric vehicle but don't think I'll see one in my life time. My needs are:-

1. Torque. Tons of it at very low revs for very long, sustained periods. Hours at a time. An electric motor could do the torque, but for how long? There's no charging stations in the middle of the bog or half way up a mountain side. I can carry spare jerrycans of diesel so spare battery packs would be a must have too.

2. Wading. When the river floods the lower fields every spring and autumn I'm frequently submerged with bow waves breaking on the windscreen, windows down, driving semi-standing head and torso out the window and compartment flooded. As long as the snorkel is above the water my diesel can breath and she'll keep moving as long as there's something under at least two wheels. (Permanent all wheel drive's a must). I've sealed everything and stripped out all non-essential electrics but water and the electrics is always a headache. Tesla would have big costly problems waterproofing I think.

3. Lightweight. I'm going to get bogged down. It's inevitable that I'll need to use the hi-lift jack and shovel my way out of the muck. So very solid jack points in the mud/rock-slider sills is vital. These would be right under where I'm guessing Tesla would put the batteries. I've bent a steel H-frame chassis member jacking up out of mud suction, how would batteries react to getting severely deformed?

4. Strong. I frequently punch holes through the floor pan on rocks and usually have to straighten out the chassis and pull it back to true so wheel tracking doesn't cause too much crabbing. The tractor mechanic in our village has a jig for it and all of us pull our vehicles straight in it pretty often. Positioning of the batteries in the floor would make me so worried I just couldn't persuade myself they'd be safe no matter what the manufacturer claims. Don't know a way round this?

5. Clearance. I need a totally flat front with as much angle of attack as possible. Land Rover got this right with the Defender. Far too many supposed off road vehicles have noses that poke out way too far beyond the front wheels which massively reduces the inclines you can take on. Same for angle of departure on the rear end. No massive overhangs. Wheel base can't be too long either or you'll bottom out which is a big reason why American pick ups don't sell well at all anywhere but America, they're too long and too wide and too heavy. Fully adjustable coil over spring is another essential for max height off road and high weight loading, but droppable for on road.

6. Winches. I have an engine driven front winch mounted in the bumper and an electric winch with its' own batteries mounted under the bed in the rear. The front does most of the hauling. Even more batteries needed then in an all electric vehicle. I also use the deisel engine as a generator for power tools so I'd have to take a generator round with me in an electric vehicle because it's batteries couldn't cope with all that load and last very long?

7. Cost. It'd have to meet the requirements of being classified as a commercial vehicle for road tax reasons and be cheap to buy second or third hand. I burn through these vehicles like all my mates do. Never bought one new, you'd be mad to. Usually buy ex-utility or ex-military then do the necessary conversions myself. There's a massive cheap after market of suppliers for this which Tesla would have to take into consideration.

I'm sure Tesla will produce a proof of concept truck aimed at the American market for users who don't really need one and should really have a van. It'd be ok too for people who just like the look and just want something to jolly round in that doesn't look like a jelly-mould sedan. No harm in that and a big market I'd guess.

No use to me though, unless Tesla are keeping some very big secrets up their sleeve.

brando | 27. august 2016

Truck as a Tractor alternative, interesting.
Perhaps a new design tractor could be more truck like.