The rhetoric that electric vehicles will “ruin the weekend”, or that the developers of clean transport technology are not “thinking of the tradies” is a far cry from the truth says transport expert David Brown.
He and other experts say that electric utes could be the perfect option for both tradies and farmers, both keen to use the on-board power supply, and reduce the high costs and pollution that comes from diesel machines.
Large 4×4 utes are big money for carmakers in Australia. While electric vehicles didn’t get a look in at the latest federal budget, utes are flying off dealer showroom floors, bolstered by the full $150,000 asset write off introduced for businesses with an annual turnover of less than $500 million.
Utes were the single most popular segment in May and second only to medium SUVs for 2021 to date, and as the financial year reaches its end this will continue because commercial vehicles with a one-tonne payload designed primarily for work not passengers, are all eligible for the full write-off limit.
But diesel-fuelled utes like the Ford Ranger, which releases 202gm/CO2 (more than double the EU vehicle emissions regulation’s maximum fleet average) into the atmosphere for every kilometre driven – even in its lightest 2.2 litre version – are not only contributing to climate change.
Despite the above misleading attacks on electric vehicles by prime minister Scott Morrison and other members of the Coalition in the lead up to the 2019, and contrary to the tired lines stoking cultural wars repeated on Tuesday night’s 7:30 report by Angus Taylor, EVs promise to change the world for the better.
And none more so for tradespeople. In fact, there are a number of all-electric utility trucks ready to be unleashed on roads, that will provide not only plenty of range but also handy additions like on-board power for tools and the ability to provide emergency power.
As former president of the Australian Institute of Traffic Planning David Brown noted in an email to The Driven, “A lot of tradies don’t necessarily travel as far as we might imagine – to and from the job and perhaps a little running around.”
Models like the Tesla Cybertruck, the Ford F-150 Lightning and the Rivian R1T are being released in the US. While Ford has not slated the F-150 for Australia, both the Cybertruck and the Rivian will make it here at some point.
“The great thing is the trucks could be equipped with power outputs to charge tools, I know a young plumber who is constantly forgetting to charge his batteries – with an EV truck you can top up at work,” says Brown.
Brown says electric utes would also be perfect for farmers who need a reliable power supply when working out on the farm, doing away with ongoing maintenance of a generator.
Managing director of Worthington Constructions, Liam Worthington, also believes electric utes could boost efficiency on-site by saving tradies time when they forget to recharge tools like drills and saws.
Not only that, but as the environmentally-friendly lens is put on a number of industries – it would be a beneficial move for business owners to get involved in.
“From running down petrol bills to having easily accessible and reliable power outlets on-site, it’s a no brainer,” says Worthington.
But whether electric utes will be eligible for the instant asset write off is another question. With typically larger batteries (the Rivian has a maximum option of 180kWh), electric utes command a higher price than other EV stablemates.
Pricing for the Rivian R1T will start at $US70,000 before on-road costs, which equals $A90,420 converted. Once that is brought to Australia, add on import taxes and shipping costs, as well as the luxury car tax (which was raised recently, but only to $79,659 for fuel-efficient vehicles).
Tesla has not announced Australian pricing for the Cybertruck, although it is available for pre-order. It will come in at considerably less than the Rivian however, priced from $US39,900 ($A51,539 at today’s rates) for the single motor variant. The pared-down F-150 Lightning Pro is similarly priced.
Then there are Australian players like ACE-EV which is planning a “Yewt” and the hydrogen-powered H2X Snowy ute, although neither have begun volume production: ACE-EV has some prototypes, and will reportedly cost under $50,000, and we’ve only seen renders of the Snowy so far.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.