Please, Elon Musk, Give Us an Electric El Camino

Promo image. 1967 Chevrolet El Camino ad

If you are going to build a pickup, make it more like a car: lower, lighter, safer, more pedestrian friendly.

In 1932, Ford Australia produced a cross between a car and a truck because the wife of a farmer asked for "a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays." In the fifties, the Ford Ranchero and the Chevy El Camino were exactly that -- the comfort and elegance of a coupé with the utility of a pickup truck.

Now, pickups are driven by people who never get closer to a pig than a pound of bacon in the Walmart bag, but they are much more like trucks: high, heavy and deadly to everyone around them. Perhaps this is a real opportunity for Tesla and Elon Musk, who announced via Twitter that he will be building a pickup soon.

Over on Electrek, Fred Lampert reminds us that a few years ago Musk described his idea of a Tesla Truck.

"I was driving an F-250 down the 405 one day and honestly that thing... it was resonating on 405 on the little ridges. I thought my teeth were going to rattle out of my head. If you put load on it it’s fine, but if you’re empty it’s not. It would be good to do that and obviously to make it light and really handle well. That’s where having a battery pack low can improve the center of gravity. I think it’s possible to produce a really well handling truck that feels good at any load point. That would be really great.”

tesla pickup

© Tesla via Electrek

More recently, Musk hinted that it might be much bigger, almost like a version of his proposed semi, “a pickup truck that can carry a pickup truck.” That would be a real shame, in this era where the pickup is a suburban runabout.

67 El Camino

67 Chevrolet El Camino/Promo image

Perhaps it makes more sense to build a pickup like the El Camino, more like a car than a truck. It would be low, so that drivers could have good visibility where the pedestrians are. Being lower and lighter, it would have less air resistance and go farther on its batteries than a high, heavy pickup would.

statistics on deaths

© New Scientist

It would be designed with a pedestrian-friendly front end, not a wall like current pickups. It would handle like a car because it basically is a car with a beefed up suspension and a bed in lieu of a back seat and a trunk. Then everyone could go to church on Sunday and take their pigs to market on Monday without killing anyone.

I have been harsh about Elon lately, particularly with his silly Boring Company tunnels, but if even a skeptic like Allison is excited about a pickup, I suppose I should be too.