The electric ute is a vehicle that has seen a fair bit of news in recent years. They’ve been shunned for their inability to tow heavy loads unlike the traditional tradie ute, or according to some, don’t even exist. A lack of detailed information and government incentives has meant a general disinterest towards electric vehicles generally in Australia. But now, the first electric utes are coming to our shores in 2022. Moreover, a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group has suggested an increase in popularity in the coming years. So now the question remains: Are they here to stay?
How Do They Work?
All electric vehicles replace traditional fuel engines with a large battery that supplies all power to the vehicle. Extra parts which keep the vehicle moving include:
- Electric motor – Provides the power to rotate the wheels (available in DC/AC, with the latter being more common).
- Inverter – Converts the electric current from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC).
- Drivetrain – A single-speed transmission sends power from the motor to the wheels.
- Charging – Plug into a charging point to store electricity in the battery.
Altogether, an electric ute can have 90% fewer moving parts than its fuel-powered counterpart. The smaller collection of parts also means fewer chances of required repairs and servicing. This is especially true compared to the popular diesel ute models, which require frequent maintenance. Currently, however, the technology and research needed to create electric vehicles are more expensive. Overall, this means that while the initial costs of electric vehicles are higher, they are cheaper to run and service. If you’re managing the books every year, this can be a great boon.
Performance of Electric VS Fuelled Utes
The popularity of utes in Australia has always come from their versatility for tradies and the general population. Whether you’re transporting tools during work or the family on the weekends, a ute is a perfect vehicle for the job. To highlight this point, they make up 20% of the Australian car market, with the classic Toyota Hilux & Ford Ranger, dominating sales.
Current high-performance electric utes such as the Ford F-150 Lightning have a range of 480km before needing to recharge. In comparison, some Ford Ranger models can travel over 900km on a full diesel tank. When handling loads, the Lightning is slightly behind, with a 900kg capacity while most Ford Rangers can handle over 1 tonne.
Towing efficiency is where the performance differences are highlighted. The LDV eT60 (the first electric ute set to arrive in Australia) has a 330km range that decreases by up to 50% when towing a maximum load of 1,500kg. Ford Lightnings face a similar performance hit, even when towing far less than its rating of 4435kg. The main issue is that the battery efficiency of electric vehicles drops significantly; the weight and slow charging time contribute to this.
However, a key point to consider is that electric utes are more than capable enough when handling the majority of day-to-day operations for tradies; Transporting tools and crews from site to site. It’s especially true for those working in the city, where there is more developed infrastructure and roads.
The Future of Electric Utes in Australia
The main obstacle for electric utes is a lack of fuel efficiency standards. While the government is starting to push these schemes, manufacturers are still prioritising established markets in the USA and Europe. However, as decarbonisation continues, the supply and demand for electric vehicles will increase. In the coming years, the up-front costs of these utes will also equal that of traditional vehicles as battery costs fall. For city tradies, these electric utes can already be a practical alternative to classic fuel guzzlers, reducing fleet costs for their businesses. Although, those tradies working in the outback should probably consider waiting until more infrastructure develops.
For a reliable tradie vehicle that can get your business on the road now, contact TradieSpec and get a free quote. We offer flexible rental periods and rent-to-own contracts with the right specs for your day-to-day job.