Electric 4x4s? When, not if.

A somewhat controversial topic appearing of late within the off-road community, is the future development and “evolution” of 4×4’s,  given all the new technology filtering through coupled with increased regulations and compliance issues regarding emission controls as we move forward.

Which is why I believe, this is the perfect time to throw this topic up for discussion because I think it is the elephant in the room that the offroad community refuses to acknowledge and it also makes for some good debate.

Will Tesla’s forthcoming 4×4/pick-up drag the old school offroad enthusiasts kicking and screaming into the 21st century?

Does the tech pose a threat or at the very least, a change to perceptions amongst off-road enthusiasts?  Is there an actual market/demand for a 4×4 pickup ute and/or offroad buggy?

With the way government and EPA Compliance regulations are going, we may soon have not much alternative choices.

Tesla is planning on an all-electric pickup and/or buggy which is yet to be officially seen but renderings have been released to inspire debate amongst us. There are benefits to the design (as I’m sure there are also some negatives), and putting our reservations for all things electric aside, lets discuss the pros and cons.

1 – The battery on the entire floor would aide in keeping a low centre of gravity. Depending how far one charge would take you, let’s assume it would be enough for a day’s wheeling, there is no reason a solar panel on the roof couldn’t help keep charging while your off-roading.

2 – Battery on the floor would allow a low Center of Gravity, aiding stability off road.

3 – With all the torque an electric setup has, it would negate the requirement for a transfer case, thus a flat belly underneath.

4 – Centrally located front and rear diffs allow longer suspension arms allowing much better/more suspension travel than your typical IFS/IRS setup – like a dedicated off-road buggy. Not to mention the clearance gained by a higher located differential. Internal combustion engines generally have offset differentials due to packaging constraints.

5 – This could be further improved if they placed individual motors inside each wheel and ran the arms on the top side of the hub…. a bit like portals, allowing individual wheel drive.

6 – With all the electronic traction aids available these days, like stability control, uphill/downhill assist, traction control, ABS etc this vehicle has the potential to shatter all previous perceptions about such technology being as we would typically call it “off-roadworthy”.

7 – More storage capacity in the “frunk” (front-trunk where the engine might typically be), as well as in the rear.

8 – Increased torque means awesome on- road performance.


1 -There are no electric charging stations currently in Australia off the beaten path where offroaders like go, and the infrastructure is yet to be developed to support this. However, 240v charging is possible albeit much slower.

2 – Typical battery range you’d be only  looking in the vicinity of 350-400km, if that.

3 – Is it durable enough?

4 – Is it water tight for water/river crossing?

5 – Other?

Why do I think this is the way things are going?

1 – Well, here in Australia….the emission regulations are getting so strict that there is talk that the next level emission requirements manufacturers need to follow could be the death of diesel engines, as it get prohibitively expensive to add the upgraded emission control technologies required to keep the engines going to comply.

2 – Petrol/Regular Unleaded fuel will still go on…..but for how long? There is talk about removing regular unleaded fuel in the near future and leaving only the Premium Version….which costs a lot more. Eventually I’m sure this will be gone too. A couple European nations have stated they will start phasing out fossil fuel type engines within the next 10 years.

So it is the Elephant in the room that needs to be discussed as it will eventually trickle down to affect all of us?

Let’s begin the discussion…….is this the way 4x4s are going in the near future?  Are you looking forward to it? Do you support? Why or why not?

Further reading


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About Author


Max has 21 years of experience with Toyota Motor Corporation Australia. A Toyota qualified Automotive Technician, now working as Technical Officer in the Parts & Accessories Risk Engineering Group.

Also owner and operator of Hillside Offroad and a huge Hilux enthusiast.

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