From the Tesla Cybertruck to the Ford F-150 Lightning, there is no shortage of EV pickups available in the US marketplace. But what about the micro EV market where smaller vehicles may find zero emission vehicle niches?
TELO, a new EV company and start-up based in the US, has recently launched what it claims is the world’s most efficient EV mini pickup truck. Designed from the ground-up for the EV market the truck utilises the latest EV and autonomous technology for an ‘active lifestyle’ EV truck.
We spoke to Jason Marks co-founder and CEO, and Forrest North, co-founder, and CTO, to learn more about the TELO Truck.
Just Auto (JA): Could you provide me with some background on the company?
Jason Marks (JM): Forrest and I met through a mutual friend in 2019 because I had a goal to build a reimagined motorcycle and Forrest had launched a motorcycle start-up: Mission Motors. We became friends when we realized we both pole-vaulted at the same high school in Washington State (though some years apart).
We then began working on the TELO Truck in 2022 and reincorporated our previous company to TELO Trucks Inc. in 2023 after realising that the technology we were developing for the motorcycle enabled us to build a completely new class of vehicles.
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The company has just launched what is claimed to be the most efficient EV mini-pickup truck. How did that design come about?
JM: We worked alongside design industry mogul and founder of award-winning, international multidisciplinary design studio Fuseproject, Yves Béhar, who is our head of design and advisor. Every aspect of the TELO Truck was designed in partnership with our founding team.
Yves and Fuseproject helped conceptualise our signature design elements including the six grooved headlights and clean fluid geometry. These things differentiate TELO from the oversized aggressive look most modern pickup trucks have. It’s also an expression of intelligent design and a practical mindset.
This design theme is carried throughout various locations of the truck such as the door handles, the taillights, and the side panels. The rounded and debossed vent details work to streamline airflow, ensuring smoother aerodynamics.
The TELO Truck’s design signature is a surprising lack of a long, sloping front-end. With no need for a large gas-powered engine, we moved the passenger space forward, dramatically shortening the overall length without compromising safety. It’s notable that we still maintain a fairly long wheelbase, similar to most electric crossovers on the market. This enables us to put a sizable battery pack in the floorboard, giving us good range and power. We’re anticipating a 350-mile EPA range and a 0-60 in 4 seconds.
How has efficiency been achieved?
Forrest North (FN): We believe TELO merges the best aspects of traditional pickup trucks into one. We have the same interior head and legroom as the outgoing crew cab Toyota Tacoma. We also have a full 60-inch long bed and there is 7 cubic feet of storage in our gear tunnel. All of this is possible because of innovations in packaging.
Our vehicle chassis is engineered in a way that lets us put the front passengers low and forward, without being a cab-over vehicle. We also leveraged composite components in the wheel wells to enable us to fit the front passengers comfortably, while still packaging the motor, suspension, drivetrain, and steering components in that same area.
When is the truck aimed to become available for consumers?
FN: We just launched the company with a prototype of the TELO Truck to showcase the truck’s capabilities and technologies. From there, we’re entering the validation and homologation process.
We plan to hand-build the first set of vehicles (approximately 500 or so) to deliver to customers in 2025. Then we’ll scale for manufacturing (3+ years from now for mass delivery). We plan for all assemblies to occur within the US.
What are some consumer benefits of smaller EV trucks?
FN: Two main benefits of the TELO Truck’s compact length for consumers are better visibility and safety. A shorter length increases visibility and opens a new world to its drivers who will no longer need to circle city blocks trying to find a spot to fit their oversized vehicle.
We utilized the latest in advanced safety technology for TELO such as sensors to warn of potential collisions before they happen. This and the structural advances make our vehicles safer not only for occupants but also for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users.
Big trucks lack visibility, and they’re so tall that they tend to impact pedestrians in the worst possible way when they strike them. This leads to trucks being involved in three times more pedestrian fatalities than smaller vehicles.
When it comes to design, could you discuss the importance of designing with purpose for a specific consumer?
JM: We specifically designed the TELO Truck for urban adventurers seeking a nimble vehicle for city streets, but with enough space for their outdoor excursions. Although there are many EV options currently on the market, most are built extremely large and without everyone in mind – that leaves a gap with this urban niche active lifestyle group.
Outdoor activity participation has skyrocketed in the last three years. Pet ownership has increased dramatically too, and people are still flocking to cities and dense suburban areas. In California, accessory dwelling units are popping up everywhere, driving the urban sprawl. People are getting packed in tighter, and simultaneously also looking to stretch their legs.
From daily commutes to weekend adventures with the whole family, we designed the TELO Truck to address these needs in a functionally stylish way.