A Tiny Electric Truck With Giant Ambitions

Telo is a compact electric truck designed by Yves Béhar that offers ample storage in the footprint of a Mini Cooper, but American buyers used to hulking pickups may need time with its “cute” build.

Smartcar but make it truck? It may be difficult to visualize, but it’s the idea behind Telo, a compact new electric pickup with sky-high ambitions to disrupt the automotive sector’s design expectations. (It feels like a noble pursuit given how recent pickup trucks and SUVs have been compared to death machines.) Telo forgoes the macho gestures baked into most American pickup trucks, offering the seating and storage of a Toyota Tacoma but in the footprint of a Mini Cooper. In the words of lead designer Yves Béhar, it’s “cute.”

Telo is the brainchild of two auto industry veterans—vehicle safety specialist Jason Marks and Tesla battery expert Forrest North—who envisioned a compact pickup that’s easily maneuverable in cities but kitted out for weekend adventures. The truck’s most notable feature is its lack of a visible engine, which is hidden inside essentially a big, flat skateboard that makes up the bottom component. The driver is pushed forward, leaving additional space for a backseat and the cabin, which can even fit surfboards despite the truck’s cozy build. 

Though interior visuals aren’t yet available, some critics noted Telo feels more like a gadget than a vehicle—no surprise given Béhar’s industrial design pedigree. But the vehicle has the capacity to upend the hulking pickup truck market if it passes all the safety tests and convinces American consumers to embrace a design that feels European—no easy feat. More development to make Telo market-friendly might be needed, but the company plans to hand-build 500 units over the next two years. Pre-orders for the $50,000 truck start at $152—one dollar for every inch of its length—and are fully refundable if one gets cold feet.

(All images courtesy of Telo.)

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