Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that electric utes and pick-ups are a hot button talking point globally right now, whether it’s the Ford F-150 Lightning, Ram’s news last week of two new EV pick-ups being in development, or chit chat in New Zealand regarding the Clean Car Standard.
What’s interesting with almost every electrified pick-up announced thus far is that they all aim to showcase how they can look and feel just like a current internal combustion engine equivalent. They by and large look just as macho, have just as much towing capability, and are often shown in their marketing materials on jobsites, towing boats, or monstering off-road trails.
But, what if you don’t want an electric pick-up that looks totally different from the norm?
Well, as it stands there’s two options. In march a start-up called Canoo unveiled its quirky looking creation; the aptly named Canoo Electric Truck. And, last year a German firm called Electric Brands showed off a modular virtual concept called the eBussy. The latter has now debuted as a real fully functional prototype called the XBUS, and it’s set for production in 2022.
The diminutive XBUS is not aiming to be a Hilux or Ranger replacement. Rather, it’s something very different entirely. Measuring at a mere 3640mm long and 1600mm wide, it’s actually officially classified as a quadricycle, meaning that it will be eligible to skip a raft of taxes while simultaneously being much cheaper to purchase (in theory).
As per the eBussy concept, the XBUS has 10 different interchangeable bodies to choose from. This can see the model morph from a pick-up, to a mini campervan (complete with pop-out roof), to a convertible, to a box van, and more.
What’s neat is that all 10 versions can be had with an off-road specification, if that’s more your speed. This adds meaty all-terrain rubber and increased ground clearance.
Practicality largely depends on which form of XBUS you’re most keen on. Payload is rated at up to 1000kg, which more or less places the little truck on par with most contenders in the double-cab ute fleet.
Two batteries are offered; a 10kWh pack and a 30kWh pack. The former is good for a range of 200km per charge, and the latter 600km. Optional solar panels for the XBUS’ roof can further aid range abilities.
The batteries are paired to four electric motors, one positioned at each hub for permanent four-wheel drive. The foursome are good for a continuous 15kW of power, with peak power rated at 56kW. It’s fairly humble, but the XBUS’ four motors also produce a staggering 1000Nm of combined torque.
Not only has Electric Brands said the XBUS is destined for production in Itzehoe, Germany, but they’ve also announced pricing. When it hits the market next year pricing will start at €18,070 ($30,600), with the bells-and-whistles camper costing €32,370 ($55,600).