The Chevrolet S10 EV was the world’s first fully electric pickup truck, but less than 500 were made and only 60 examples of this truck were ever sold
Pickup trucks like the Rivian R1T and the Ford F-150 Lightning are setting the standard for modern electric trucks. But they certainly aren’t the first. Back in the late 1990s, General Motors was taking all the lessons learned with the GM EV1 to introduce the Chevrolet S10 EV. A pickup truck that is in fact very pioneering as the world’s first fully electric pickup truck in production. Yet one that is incredibly rare with less than 500 units ever made.
The S10 EV never caught on. But there is an argument to say it was simply ahead of its time. Electric pickup sales are increasing slowly, but there clearly was not an appetite for such a vehicle in the late 1990s. Were it to get made now, the S10 EV might sell very well indeed.
The S10 EV Was The First Fully Electric Pickup
As we have touched upon, the Chevrolet S10 EV was the first fully electric pickup truck in production. This back in 1997, quite sometime before Rivian was of course created and before Ford even considered an electric F-150. If the truck looks familiar, then that’s because the S10 EV was actually based upon the two-door, short-bed. A truck that was very much a works truck, so it had a good, solid platform already. Chevrolet decided it was time to bring an electric version into the world.
General Motors had the experience with the GM EV1, hence the idea to create an electric pickup truck. However, it was only in production for a short period of time and only 492 were ever sold. Very low numbers for a truck that wasn’t marketed as a limited edition. Back in the late 1990s, EV technology was still very raw and new. Plus, the necessity to go for more eco-friendly methods of propulsion wasn’t there when the S10 EV was first conceived. Chevrolet though must be greatly applauded for giving it a go, it just wasn’t quite the right time.
General Motors Used Their Experience From The GM EV1
Chevrolet and General Motors very much used their experience from the EV1 to good effect. The S10 EV in fact boasts an upgraded GM EV1 powertrain, a powertrain that in itself was ahead of its time, too. The powertrain comprised of a 114 hp AC induction motor, as well as a 16.2 kWh lead-acid battery. When we now use several hundred KWh and lithium-ion batteries, the technology does seem quite basic. But remember, this is the first fully electric pickup truck. At a time when EVs themselves were very few and far between.
The S10 EV itself was actually quite heavy, weighing in at 4,900 lbs. Although of course big SUVs these days can push over that. The top speed of the S10 EV was 70 mph, which was actually a downgrade from that of the EV1’s 80 mph. Range wise, the S10 EV was able to go just 45 miles, although in 1998 Chevrolet brought in a larger 39 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery. This more than doubled the range of the S10 EV, bringing it up to 95.3 miles. That isn’t much by today’s standards, of course, where even the lower range EVs are pushing 150 miles.
Chevrolet Produced Limited Numbers Of The S10 EV
It is quite remarkable just how few examples of the S10 EV were ever built. While it was certainly innovative as the world’s first electric pickup truck, it was quickly discontinued in 1998. This despite the upgrades made to the S10 EV to make it more usable and offer that extra range and performance. Out of the 492 S10 EV examples created, just 60 were ever sold to customers. Staggeringly, the remaining examples were all crushed and scrapped. Meaning very few examples of the S10 EV are around to this day, making it a super-rare pickup truck.
This fate is similar to what befell many of the EV1s that didn’t sell, with both vehicles now incredibly rare. The fleet life of many of the S10 EVs expired in 2007 and 2008, and it’s remarkable that Chevrolet struggled to sell what was quite a small production run.