Utes may be good at lifting heavy things and getting down and dirty, but a Californian-based electric car start-up is about to make them smart and sexy.
Newcomer Canoo has unveiled its new unnamed pick-up truck, which blends futuristic styling with innovative storage features and an electric drivetrain powering all four wheels.
And while you’ll be able to drive it – in America at least – the company has a subscription model that means it may never be available to be purchased outright.
The Canoo pick-up has hints of Volkswagen’s old Kombi ute in its design, but it’s a thoroughly modern take on the ute with a glass-filled cabin that has enough curves and LED lighting to reinforce the modern thinking.
It’s one of more than a dozen electric utes being developed by brands as diverse as Chevrolet, Ford, Hummer, Rivian, Lordstown and BYD.
But it’s in the bed of the Canoo ute where lots of the innovation has gone.
The floor of the load area can be extended to accommodate large items and the tailgate has two doors that swing out rather than a single piece that folds down.
The sides of the load area also flip down, doubling as a table or workbench and making it easier to access the load.
Load separators are modular and can be added to keep different load items separate.
There’s even an additional load area that slides out of the side of the car and doubles as a step, making it easier to access the roof or ute tray.
The whole load area can also be enclosed with a canopy that’s as modern-looking as the rest of the car, while a roof top pop-up camper can be fitted for those wanting to adventure.
A bank of four power outlets is designed to keep fridges, camping equipment and work tools charged and working.
Canoo executive chairman Tony Aquila says it’s about ensuring the electric pickup is ready for work and adventure.
“We are so passionate about building vehicles that can change people’s lives,” he said Tony Aquila.
“Our pickup truck is as strong as the toughest trucks out there and is designed to be exponentially more productive. This truck works for you. We made accessories for people who use trucks – on the job, weekends, adventure. You name it, we did it because it’s your platform and she’s bad to the bone.”
And the LED lighting isn’t limited to the headlights and tail lights. There’s LED perimeter lighting surrounding the load area, for a subtle glow.
In the stubby nose is another small storage compartment to keep valuables and the all-important snacks away from whatever it is you’re carrying.
The Canoo pick-up can’t carry quite as much as the Toyota Hiluxes and Ford Rangers that dominate Australian roads – the payload is a bit over 800kg – but with around 450kW of power it promises to comfortably out-accelerate them.
The new EV ute will be offered with a single rear electric motor or dual motors for all-wheel drive capability.
It’s fed by an 80kWh battery pack that promises upwards of 320km of electric range.