Upcycle makes a $35k electric pickup out of used Toyota Corollas

Upcycle Green Technology, based in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, defies much of the conventional wisdom in today’s EV industry. It doesn’t appear to have ambitions of being “the next Tesla.” It is not starting out with a six-figure long-range luxury vehicle. It is not building a “clean sheet” EV, and it does not appear to believe that North American buyers are interested only in giant pickups and SUVs.

Upcycle’s first vehicle is a small pickup truck that it converts from a 2009-2013 Toyota Corolla. It has a range of 150 kilometers, and is expected to sell for $35,000. There will eventually be a more expensive version with more range.

After two years of design work, Upcycle recently completed its first two prototype pickups. The company is now taking orders for its first production batch of small electric pickup trucks, and says it has taken deposits on over 20 units. The initial production target is 100 vehicles per year, and the company hopes to scale this up to 200 in a few years.

“It’s hard to explain to people, what is a small pickup truck here,” said Mechanical Engineer Natal Antonini. “We have a lot of these small pickup trucks in Brazil, but here in North America, it’s hard to find one, so we think there is a good niche market for this kind of vehicle.”

Antonini said the target markets for Upcycle’s new pickup are fleet operators who are looking for a small, economical vehicle to travel short distances, and professionals such as plumbers and carpenters. He calculates that the average light pickup truck on P.E.I. burns about $30 worth of gas to go 100 km, whereas his company’s electric pickup consumes $2.50 worth of electrons.

Upcycle has had support from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from the School of Sustainable Design Engineering at the University of Prince Edward Island. Two graduates now work with the company, including Russell Peden. “We’re taking cars that otherwise may go to a scrapyard, and giving them a brand-new life. We’re thinking it’s going to almost double the lifespan of these cars,” Peden said.

“When do you think a big car company is coming to P.E.I.?  Never, but we can have a small car company here,” Antonini said. “We have a small island, and a small car company.” 

Source: Upcycle Green Technology, CBC News

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