The fact that there are multiple “EV startups” vying for a foothold in the American auto market in 2022 underscores an important reality: Times of turmoil and change often offer points of entry for new players in a given industry. Think about it.
When listening to popular music went mobile—and digital—Apple rushed in to challenge established companies like Sony. Since then, the iPod has given way to the iPhone, but Apple is still very much in the music-storage business.
And when shopping went online, it wasn’t Sears, JCPenney, or even relative-newbie Target that led the revolution, but Amazon—a company that didn’t exist until 1994.
No, as the auto industry rushes into the EV age, new companies are making much of the news. Unless you’ve been in hiding on a desert island, you’re certainly aware of Tesla, but other startups—including Fisker, Lucid, and Rivian—are making news as well.
And, as startups, these new companies aren’t playing by all the same rules as legacy carmakers, especially when it comes to design. Ford’s new F-150 Lighting electric pickup, which is just about to begin production, serves as an example of new tech meeting established design expectations. I imagine that in many cases, average consumers might mistake the Lightning for a run-of-the-mill Ford pickup.
Here, let’s look at three new pickups—only from the side—to see how bold designers are getting. We start with the Chevrolet Silverado EV, and go on to consider two trucks from startup companies: the Rivian R1T and the Tesla Cybertruck.
Electric Pickup Trucks in Profile
2023 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST
Given that the 2023 Silverado EV is an all-new vehicle in an all-new segment, the truck’s profile is surprisingly unchallenging. Critics—a lot of critics—have called out the sail panel aft of the cab as a point of contention. Intentionally or not, the panel harkens back to the 2002-2013 Chevrolet Avalanche pickup, which featured a similar panel, though that example was a separate part formed of composite plastic, and appeared less well integrated into the pickup’s design.
More interesting is the Silverado EV’s “one-piece” integrated cab and pickup bed. Unlike the conventional Silverado, which has a separate cab and bed like all traditional full-size pickups, the Silverado EV features a clean, contiguous profile. The Silverado EV is shown here in topline RST trim.
2022 Rivian R1T
The words “tidy” and “solid” come to mind when I look at the Rivian R1T. This upstart pure-electric pickup, assembled in Normal, IL, has plenty of fans, and a waiting list of buyers bears that out. I’m intrigued with the how the truck’s C-pillars are integrated into the rear doors. For the moment, the R1T is available in just a single crew-cab/short-bed configuration, and it’s surprisingly compact. While the Silverado EV shown above stretches 233 inches from bumper to bumper, the R1T is just 217 inches long overall. That’s comfortably shorter than the longest version of Chevy’s midsize Colorado pickup, which clocks in at 224.9 inches. Deliveries of the R1T began late last year. Question: What do you think of these wheels?
It’s difficult to consider the Cybertruck in any practical context, as the basic shape was clearly designed to shock rather than function in any real sense. Still, Tesla has a habit of making things work—often after painful break-in periods—and it’s likely the production version of the pickup will look a lot like this.
The most obvious Cybertruck deficiency, at least in profile, is rear-seat headroom. That said, visibility to the front quarters, around those thick and lengthy A-pillars, is likely to be an issue as well. Per Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Cybertruck production has been delayed until at least the middle of 2023, so the company has some time to address these issues—or not.
Electric Pickup Trucks Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Electric Pickup Trucks
Electric Pickup Trucks