Tesla Pickup Truck, A $100B Market Space

During Semi Truck and Roadster reveal, 60 seconds was devoted to a Pickup concept, but which image was the real concept?

Large truck in image would be too wide (illegal) to drive on US roadways, indicating the real concept was the generic looking truck in back.

Pickup truck market is ~$100B.

A large "frunk" for tools etc., would be a sales advantage for Tesla that other pickup makers cannot offer.

During the Semi Truck reveal a brief mention was made of a new Tesla concept pickup truck (see time 9:10).

Musk showed the image below and stated that it would be a pickup truck that could carry a pickup truck in its back cargo bed. But was he being serious, or teasing us? Every author I've read thinks he was making a joke.

If so, why bother? I think it is because there was a real reveal hidden in that joke of an image.

This question is actually important because the Ford F series of pickup trucks are the largest selling vehicle of any kind in the world. According to Wahlman's Seeking Alpha article, the total pickup truck sales in 2016 were around 2.7 million units. Not trying to be terribly accurate, if I just assume $35,000 as the average price then the pickup truck market size would be around $100 Billion in 2016.

If any pickup maker could launch a electric vehicle with a long range today, it could begin to dig into that $100B market space with a completely unique solution to the pickup truck vehicle. Today, there is not a single model offered for purchase with a battery large enough to supply a >200 mile driving range, let alone that long a driving range while towing a heavy boat or trailer.

If the pickup in the rear was the real concept pickup, then I expect Tesla may be the first, or one of the first, entrants into this $100B market space.

EVs will over the coming years supplant ICE vehicles in every category, so being the first into each vehicle model space yields an advantage to that company.

Pickup trucks are not cars. They go places cars cannot. They carry cargo cars cannot. They tow trailers and boats that cars cannot. There are precisely 0 charging stations out in remote forests or at remote lakes where people like to go camping with their pickup trucks.

It stands to reason then, that at least some variants of any EV pickup truck will need really big batteries. The Chevy EV pickup had at best, a 90 mile range. That is not sufficient for mass sales in this market space.

No EV pickup truck offered for sale to date has a range that would make anyone wanting a real pickup truck feel comfortable. The new 200kWh battery pack or better, two of them for 400kWh onboard battery capacity would, in contrast, meet most people's needs.

The large battery packs would easily enable the trip to the lake for boating or a camping vacation in the woods, without needing to charge before returning home.


The more carefully I look at that image, the more convinced I am that Musk was teasing us with an obscured view of the real Concept vehicle, much like the Semi Truck teaser image last April.

The big beast front and center is clear, sharp, and detailed while the pickup in back is fuzzy, partially hidden and obscured.

This is obviously just an image created in Photoshop or the like. The positioning of the truck in back obscures the headlight conveniently right where the Tesla signature horizontal LED line would reside. The rear wheel would be resting on the tail gate, an impossible situation. The pickup in back, matches the Semi Truck reveal last April....it is obscured and provides just a hint of what is go come.

I contend that the real concept image is the fuzzy pickup in the back bed that Elon and team created.

My reasoning is here.

Too Large for US Roadways:

This single fact, in my opinion, proves that the "scaled down version of the semi" idea for a pickup was a joke. That joke obfuscated the real reveal of a perfectly normal pickup truck I believe Tesla is actively developing.

A normal pickup truck such as was shown in the back bed, is commonly about 2 inches shy of 8 feet wide between the outside tips of the rear view mirrors on each side. The legal width limit for driving in the US with a normal vehicle is 8 feet. These 2 facts are linked, car makers cannot create pickup trucks wider than what are already offered for sale because they would not be allowed on US roadways without wide load signs and pilot vehicles.

For a large commercial vehicle like UPS vans or the Semi Truck, the maximum width is only 6 inches wider at 8 feet 6 inches. In other words, classifying the supposed pickup as a commercial vehicle wouldn't work either.

The huge truck shown in the image scales to be between 10 and 12 feet wide. It would be illegal to drive that vehicle on US roadways, period.

Simply put, this fact makes it impossible for that truck to be the real Tesla Pickup truck.

Because it is obvious that the huge truck would not be street legal, I have come to conclude that the pickup in the back is the real pickup truck that Musk revealed that night. Otherwise, if there was nothing real revealed, why bother taking up the 60 seconds from the Semi event?

The remainder of this article assumes this is correct and that the normal looking pickup in back was the real Tesla Concept pickup.


The front of the fuzzy pickup looks like any other pickup out on the road today. That would be a smart aesthetic choice for Tesla to make. People have come to accept and like the shape pickup trucks have. So if Tesla sticks to what sells, that's what Tesla would develop.

Pickup trucks aren't aerodynamic or streamlined for high speed long distance freeway travel like a Model S or 3. Instead, they are rugged, cargo carriers designed to get the job done, whatever the job happens to be. They may drive on freeways, but hauling large or heavy things is what they are built and purchased for.

If Tesla intends to maintain the classic pickup shape, then what is all that space where an engine would normally reside going to be used for?

A huge Frunk is the obvious answer.

Myriad pickup trucks are fitted with a camper shell or Knaack tool box over or in the back bed so that tools can be locked overnight at home without requiring a carpenter or other tradesman to carry all the tools inside. Myriad companies make and sell lockable tool boxes intended to go into the back bed of pickup trucks.

A large Frunk would enable a Tesla pickup to provide value no other pickup truck maker can. Where there is normally an engine, Tesla could provide locked tool and "stuff" storage.

200kWh Battery Pack:

One reason the pickup may have been mentioned during the Semi Truck reveal, along with the Roadster 2, is that all of them may use the new 200kWh battery pack.

Pickup trucks consume more energy than automobiles. So the 100kWh battery pack of a Model S or X won't be enough stored energy for a pickup.

Elon didn't mention the size of the battery pack the Semi would use. But I calculated from aerodynamic and rolling friction first principles that it would require an 800kWh battery. Then by carefully watching the reveal event video again, it's clear that the semi has 4 battery packs, one for each of the 4 drive motors.

Tesla Semi with 4 Battery PacksApparently, the Semi Truck uses 4 battery packs as can be seen above, each at 200kWh size, and each motor has it's own independent battery (energy) supply.

A pickup truck could yield excellent range for various applications if it had 1 or 2 of those 200kWh battery packs. And by installing 2 packs the Tesla pickup could power the front and rear wheels from independent motors, much like the Semi truck, guaranteeing it won't break down out on the job.

That exact same drive train could then be re used for future UPS and Fed Ex van construction.


The pickup truck claimed to be the new Tesla pickup would obviously be illegal to drive on US roadways. Therefore, I conclude that Musk was making a joke, as have many other authors who have written about the pickup.

This fact I believe establishes that the real Tesla pickup truck is the one in the back bed, looking substantially like any other pickup from any other maker, a smart design choice.

The design choice would enable Tesla to offer a huge lockable Frunk no other pickup maker can provide as they must put their engine into that volume. And the new 200kWh battery packs for use in the Roadster and almost certainly in the Semi, would provide more than adequate energy to tow a boat to a lake, go camping, and back home without needing to recharge.

The Tesla pickup will, when released, dig into a $100B market space.

This article originally appeared at: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4133753-tesla-pickup-truck-100b-market-space.

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