The Japanese started it — the small pickup truck craze that swept America in the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, pickup trucks were utilitarian devices, meant for picking stuff up here and dropping it off there. Those early models from Datsun and Toyota were minimalistic, practical, tough as nails, and cheap. Their interiors featured painted metal and vinyl. That was before the pickup truck morphed into a version of the Lincoln Town Car, complete with heated and cooled seats, 27 speaker stereos, 4 zone climate systems, and 10 speed automatic transmissions.
Today, electric vehicle startups are popping up everywhere. One of the latest is Alpha Motor, located in sunny Irvine, California. Like most of its contemporaries, it starts with a reconfigurable skateboard that incorporates the battery, motor(s), BMS, and chassis components. Once you have that, you can plop any body you want on top, much as Canoo is doing.
Since December, Alpha has unleashed a series of proposed electric vehicles it says will be available to the public in 2023. All of them are computer renderings at this stage. No actual vehicles have been built, so far as we know. Those renderings show the Ace, a 2 door coupe, and two variations — one for off-road use and the second with more sporting intentions. Now the company has pulled the cover off another design exercise, a small electric pickup truck bulked up with some serious off-road equipment it calls the Alpha Wolf.
Available as either a single-motor, front-wheel-drive truck or as a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive vehicle, this canyon basher is said to have a 75 kWh battery, a range of 250 miles, and a towing capacity of 3,000 lb. Its two seats, vertical center touchscreen, large frunk, and a toolbox in the 5½ foot-long load bed are complemented by huge wheel arches, big knobledy tires, a front push bar, and a roll bar festooned with extra lighting. All in all, it’s an off-roaders dream that sells for $36,000 before tax credits and incentives. The dual-motor version lists for $46,000.
As Autoblog points out, the Alpha Wolf is fully 2 feet shorter than a basic Toyota Tacoma Access Cab and priced well below electric pickups coming from General Motors, Ford, Rivian, and Bollinger. The Tesla Cybertruck will give it a run for its money, but for those who like the look of a mini-truck from the ’70s, the Alpha Wolf is just the ticket. It’s even painted the same color blue that was so popular on the Datsun 620 trucks of 50 years ago.
The Ace Coupe
Last December, Alpha Motor unveiled its Ace coupe, a retro-styled two-door car based on the same electric car platform as the Wolf but two feet shorter overall. Since then, it has teased two other variations of that car, a Performance Edition and a jacked up off-roader called Jax that, appropriately enough, closely resembles the Wolf. It differs from the Coupe primarily by having two half doors in front to the rear wheels for easier access to the vestigial jump seats in back.
Will Alpha Motor ever actually produce one (or all) of these cars? That remains to be seen. Every shade tree mechanic in the land wants to build electric cars these days just as every blacksmith and bicycle mechanic wanted to build horseless carriages 120 years ago. Some succeeded, but most never got off the ground or failed shortly after they started production.
We applaud anyone who wants to take a shot at the EV market today, but without a factory and an established supply chain, the odds of success are very much against these visionaries. That being said, if Alpha Motor ever calls to offer us a test drive, we will be out the door and on an airplane faster than you can say, “EV startup!” Picking winners and losers is easy to do after the fact. Doing it in advance is the tricky part.