Tesla founder Elon Musk’s plan to diversify his electric vehicle stable beyond luxury vehicles to utes is gathering interest among Australian tradespeople.
The Toyota Hilux was Australia’s biggest-selling car in 2016 while, in the US, Ford’s F-150 ‘pickup truck’ is the number-one selling vehicle. Americans buy more than 2.5 million pickups per year, so it’s a lucrative market.
In a blog titled ‘Masterplan, part 2’ on the Tesla website last year, Mr Musk wrote, “Today Tesla addresses two relatively small segments of premium sedans and SUVs. With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck, we plan to address most of the consumer market”.
Tesla’s electric drivetrain, which boasts considerable torque, would be well-suited to towing and other heavy-duty work.
Tesla Australia’s head of public relations, Heath Walker, recently told Wheels magazine that Mr Musk’s plans for a ute had attracted significant interest.
“It’s certainly exciting, because I think this market is very similar to the US and there’s a huge [ute] uptake,” Mr Walker said to Wheels.
“All you need to do is look at the number-one selling car of the last 12 months – that’s the model type. It’s certainly a segment we need to move into.
“The nice thing is, looking at our social media commentary, we actually get that request quite a bit. There’s a lot of local tradies saying ‘can you build a ute, because I can actually charge up on site while I’m doing work’, and the convenience factor for them, in addition to Australian’s taste for performance vehicles, means this car would have the crossover appeal to cater to that.”
Tesla remains tight-lipped on actual details of its eventual utility, with its present priority being bringing the Tesla Model 3 medium sedan to market. The revenue generated by that car will be critical to Tesla’s success as a car maker – and to the viability of any future Tesla vehicles, ute included.