The electric utes coming soon to Australia

Ford F-150

Toby Hagon

Posted December 07, 2022

What tradie wouldn’t love to be able to power their tools directly from their ute? The electrification of the ute market is powering up, and these are the ones coming soon to Australia.

When Ford announced it would build an electric version of its F-150 pickup truck in its American homeland it was originally planned to be a niche offering.

It was intended to complement the 750,000 annual sales of the internal combustion engine (ICE) version already achieved.

After all, American trucks have long been about big engines, big grunt and  the sort of muscularity only traditional engines can deliver… at least that was the thinking. 

Within months of announcing the electric F-150 Lightning, Ford had almost quadrupled its planned annual production run to 150,000 vehicles to cater to unprecedented interest. It’s still dealing with queues that could take years to shorten.

Needless to say, the Lightning has been an enormous success and one that proves there is an appetite for utes powered solely by electricity.

Electrifying the ute market

Key to the Lightning’s appeal is the sort of performance V8 pick-ups struggle to match. 

It makes up to 433kW and 1050Nm. To put that in perspective: a Ferrari F8 supercar with a twin-turbo V8 makes 530kW and 770Nm.

The Lightning can also tow more than 4.5 tonnes and cover more than 500km between charges. 

But it’s what the Lightning can do beyond those rugged ute expectations that arguably makes it more appealing to the big truck people who wouldn’t drive anything but an F-150.

Getting rid of an enormous engine frees up space. So, as well as the enormous load area out the back, the F-150 now also has covered storage up front - 400 litres of luggage volume – similar to what you’d find in the boot of a small hatchback. 

The Lightning also has up to 10 AC power outlets to power everything from tools and lights to camping gear and computers. With up to 131kWh of battery capacity there is enough energy to power a house for a week.

With over-the-air-software updates, the Lightning could also get better with age, improving the driving experience or adding features. 

Little wonder Americans are queuing to ditch their ICE alternatives.

The Lighting is only the start of a revolution set to sweep the commercial vehicle space. 

A report released in October by the Boston Consulting Group estimates 55 per cent of light commercial vehicles (which includes utes) sold in Australia by 2030 will be powered by electricity. Considering more than one in five new vehicles sold in Australia is a ute, that’s a lot of new EVs.

BCG concedes there are some applications where electricity won’t suit the usage of some owners, but it says lower running costs and a desire from companies to transition to a cleaner energy future will lead to swift acceptance.


The Ford F-150 Lightning

There's been unprecedented interest in the Ford F-150 Lightning, which can tow 4.5 tonnes. Photo: Getty.

The electric utes coming to Australia

The challenge for Australians will be getting hold of electric utes, at least in the short term.

Plenty of manufacturers are working on electric load luggers, but the first isn’t due to arrive until late 2022.

Here are some of the brands that could reshape the ute market in Australia with EVs.

LDV eT60

Before the end of 2022 Chinese manufacturer LDV will start delivering its eT60, an all-electric version of the T60. It looks mostly like the regular version but replaces the diesel engine with a single electric motor driving the rear wheels.

That two-wheel drive functionality, modest 1500kg tow capacity, 330km driving range and anticipated $80,000-plus price tag will limit its appeal.

Toyota LandCruiser 70-Series

The rugged LandCruiser 70-Series is currently undergoing a development program that will see EV versions on the road by about 2025. But they won’t come out of a Toyota factory.

Instead, they’ll undergo a local conversion and be initially sold only to mining fleets. The program was brought about by the mining industry giants calling for zero emissions vehicles. 

Chevrolet Silverado EV

Chevrolet is the General Motors antidote to Ford in the US, so it’s no surprise the company is planning to come out swinging in the EV ute space.

Chevrolet is currently pre-selling its Silverado EV rival for the F-150 with similar levels of interest to Ford. While it borrows the name of the same truck already converted to right-hand drive locally in Australia, the EV version is a very different beast.

It was designed from the ground up as an EV, allowing seats to be repositioned to maximise occupant space. There’s also a clever split-folding back seat that allows long items to poke into the cabin. No plans for Australia yet, but given the growing popularity of EV utes there’s no reason it couldn’t join the local conversion program.


A Tesla Cybertruck in a desert landscape

The Tesla Cybertruck has one of the most radical ute designs ever but questions remain as to when it'll hit the market. 

Hummer EV Pickup

Remember when Hummer was all about helicopter hooks and beefy V8s? Now the vehicle that built its reputation on the battlefield is being reborn as a tech-focused EV brand. It makes up to 1000 horsepower (about 750kW) and can blast all 4.1 tonnes to 60kWh (96km/h) in three seconds. There are no plans to bring the Hummer to Australia yet, but you can guarantee it’ll be on the wish list of many. 

Locally-converted Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger

There’s no shortage of companies gearing up to rip the diesel engines out of an existing Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger and replace them with electric motors and batteries.

SEA Electric already has experience with electric trucks while newcomer Roev is planning EV conversions that will allow the car to send electricity back into the grid.

A left-fielder here is H2X, which is planning on converting Rangers to a hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain. The advantage here is refuelling times akin to ICE vehicles.

None will be cheap, with prices expected to be six figures. 

Tesla Cybertruck

Like all Teslas, it’s running late. When (or if, depending on who you believe) it makes it to market, it has the potential to seriously shake up the ute segment. Tesla claims to have taken more than one million deposits.

Key to its appeal is an exoskeleton stainless steel structure and the most radical design of any ute to date.

Even if the Cybertruck makes it on sale in America, there are question marks about its suitability for Australian regulations.

Rivian R1T

Most Aussies would not have heard of Rivian, but there’s a cult online following. Like Tesla, there’s an emphasis on tech and the R1T not only brings big performance to the EV space, but also serious off-road credentials and a suite of adventure-focused accessories.

Rivian has nominated Australia as one of the countries it intends to export to after it ramps up sales in Europe. Expect to see them in 2025 or later.


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