As Bob Lutz said about the Chevy Volt, building plug-in cars might be starting at the wrong end of the problem. Given the massive fuel consumption and broad proliferation of trucks and SUVs, focusing our efforts on larger vehicles first might help save more emissions.
Interesting things are already afoot in this regard. Tesla wants to make a Ford F150 competitor, and the aforementioned Lutz is now part of Via Motors, a company making range extended trucks and SUVs.
Now we can add another player to this potentially lucrative field. Charlotte, NC based EV-Fleet has just launched The Condor, a US-made, all-electric pickup truck that is said to get 100 miles on a single charge at 65mph, or 140 miles at 45mph. It can carry 1,000lbs and its makers claim it will travel 300 miles for the cost of a single gallon of gas. (That's if gas prices don't keep dropping as they have done recently...)The company is initially targeting fleet managers, and probably for good reason. The Condor is a little different looking, and I suspect it will be easier and more economical to market to fleet managers first, rather than try to generate mass market appeal. Fleet managers are indeed showing interest in electrification already. The US Marine Corps, for example, has added electric trucks to its fleet and Indianapolis is building a huge municipal electric vehicle fleet. That said, there's more than a little VW Beetle aesthetics going on here—maybe The Condor could become a cult classic among consumers too.
Production, which is located at an old, polluted dye plant turned eco-industrial park, will be scaling up over the coming year. Currently the company employs 13 people but, given that it's planning to build 300 trucks a month by early 2015, it may need to start hiring soon.
Who knows, with a massive grid-scale energy storage start-up opening up nearby, EV-Fleet may find some customers pretty close to home.
Here's an interesting-looking solar-assisted prototype from the company's website (no word on when and if this will be available for sale). And below that, a promotional video for The Condor.