Somehow it came to my attention tonight that there is a new maybe-vapor entry in the pick-up truck market called the Atlis. It is remarkable in several ways, not all good, but the top-line message is that it’s electric.
“Work Truck” is a market where electric makes a lot of sense. Torque, stop-and-go efficiency, low maintenance. Electric outlets to power your tools. Oddly, all images of this work truck show a jacked-up off-road suspension and a paint job perhaps intended to confuse laser-guided missiles. I’m guessing that doesn’t match your worksite requirements.
Here’s a picture. Take a look, we’ll be coming back here often.
First, let’s talk about the nose of this beast. If you have driven lately, you may have noticed that the grilles on trucks have been getting bigger and bigger, until now when you look in the rear-view all you see is massive chrome accordion climbing up your ass. (The drivers of these vehicles are invariably discourteous.)
Those massive grilles are in front of equally massive radiators, because as these trucks get ever-more powerful, the waste heat they create increases as well. Roughly half of the energy created by burning fuel is waste, and must be dissipated by the radiator. The need for so much airflow to cool the engine means that the vehicle must be less aerodynamic, which means it needs to burn more fuel to get where it’s going. Which produces more heat.
But now you have an electric truck! There’s no need for a radiator at all! So instead of a massive, aerodynamically-awful grille, you get this… massive, aerodynamically-awful flat plate. First impression: Man, that’s ugly. Second impression: It’s a work truck. Can you take $1000 off the price by abandoning aesthetics? Then that is the right choice. And shit, it still looks better than that weird Tesla thing.
Let’s not talk about those headlights.
The description of the interior sounds like a true work truck. “Durable materials.” “Easy to clean.” Now we’re talking. Sure, there’s a touch screen, and sure, touch screens remain a bad idea anywhere within reach of the driver of a car. But other than that, the interior says, “some expense spared.” No frills. Not afraid of mud. Mostly I suspect this is a spin on “we can’t match the luxury you will find in the latest Ford.” But that right there is singing my song. You can listen to your Beethoven and sip your latte in your GMC Sierra or you can go to fuckin’ work in your Atlis. Just try not to think too much about the name.
And you want a work truck? This thing has the juice to power your worksite, and an air compressor too.
They make a big deal about the batteries. They’ve got some unique tech or whatnot that lets you fully charge them in fifteen minutes. That sounds pretty nice, but…
The limit to how fast you charge a battery is how much damage you are willing to do to it. Heat is an inevitable product of charging, and the faster you charge, the hotter things get. Heat also is a big contributor to batteries degrading. It’s a work truck, not a transcontinental cruiser. (If it were a transcontinental cruiser, I’d hope for better aerodynamics.) Go to work. Do your work. Get dirty. Haul stuff around. (Four motors on four wheels! unstoppable!) Go home and plug in. You have all night to get ready for another hard day. I hope fast charging is optional, because if this were my work truck, I’d want the battery to last as long as possible.
I grew up in New Mexico, so I know that sometimes even a Work Truck has to cover some miles in a given day. Three hundred miles round-trip is actually kind of common (now I’m getting a little more concerned over aerodynamics). But even then, it’s a round trip, and then you’re home and you can plug in for a few hours. This is the reality of a Work Truck.
I should note in closing that I’m pretty sure they’re not selling these yet. Interestingly, when/if they do reach production, it appears that leasing (I mean subscribing) is the only option, but the lease includes free charging. If you have to go somewhere else to charge up, then maybe the fast charging makes sense. Especially if you’re swapping vehicles before the battery goes kaput. The monthly cost seems kind of high, but if you subtract gas expenses it starts to feel competitive. Especially if you use those batteries to power a bunch of other stuff as well. As long as you work near a charging station. Which, at this point, seems undefined. And insurance is included!
To sum up, this truck does a pretty good job with not having features that a work truck doesn’t need. It’s ugly as fuck, but it’s electric. If it’s spartan that means that you’re only paying for things that actually matter. If you need a truck, it seems like you could do a lot worse. If it ever becomes real and if there’s a charging station close to you, consider Atlis for your work-truck needs.