Telo Truck is a mini electric pickup with big ambitions

Telo is a new American EV company setting out to build a small, modular, electric truck in a country filled with monolithic workhorses like Ford’s F-150 pickup. But even though Telo’s truck will be mini and cute, it’s still apparently work-capable — the company claims it’s got “Toyota Tacoma capability,” but in the footprint of a Mini Cooper. That’s just about 152 inches.

The Telo, like electric vehicles in general, can easily be compacted since it doesn’t need an engine bay up front and gas tank somewhere in the back. Instead, batteries that power it can be stored in the floor and motors can fit within a cylindrical area around the axles.

With that saved real estate, the Telo can accommodate seating for five and have a five-foot bed along with it. But you can also carry longer items, like 4×8 plywood sheets, by opening the midsection at the cost of rear seating. Or, you can add a third row and make Telo a family hauler — truck bed be damned. The vehicle is powered by a 106kWh battery that the company says is good for 350 miles of range and can fast charge from 20 to 80 percent in 20 minutes.

Compared to a Toyota Tacoma.Image: Telo

In an email exchange with The Verge, Telo co-founder and CTO Forrest North wrote that the company is currently using “off-the-shelf” 21700 cells, similar to many EVs including Teslas and Rivians, that “meet the needs of the Telo Truck.” North says its pack can support current and future cylindrical cells, and the company is discussing volumes with suppliers while also watching out for new battery technology as it comes.

The many configurations of Telo.Image: Telo

According to North, Telo has a working prototype it’ll be showing off this month to demonstrate the truck’s capabilities. After that, the vehicle will “enter validation and homologation process.” North previously founded electric motorcycle company Mission Motors, which failed due to alleged poaching by Apple. He also comes from an early Tesla team, where he developed the original Roadster’s battery, according to a biography supplied by Telo.

And just like the Roadster, the first Telo Trucks (about 500 or so) will be hand-built for customer deliveries. They are expected to be ready in 2025, followed by mass delivery in 2026 through scaled manufacturing. Telo, which is headquartered in San Carlos, California, plans to assemble its vehicles in the US.

Telo says it has other notable talent on board as well. Its co-founder and CEO Jason Marks has a history with autonomous vehicles and driver assistance system test programs as a chief business development manager at National Instruments. And the head of design and advisor for Telo is none other than industrial designer Yves Behar, known for many iconic objects from companies like Jawbone and Herman Miller.

Telo is still in its early stages, but it’s got a little truck that could be exactly what many Americans need for light-duty jobs or wilderness escapes. It looks kind of like those bubbly and modular Canoo electric vans, though that company hasn’t been doing so hot, and was last seen running on a small military contract. But hopefully Telo can pick up the slack and build a small pickup truck, because Ford still hasn’t despite filing a few trademarks almost a year ago.