This Company Has A Simple Design For Converting Pickup Trucks Into EVs

Illustration for article titled This Company Has A Simple Design For Converting Pickup Trucks Into EVs
Screenshot: Youtube

Magna has announced a new EV drivetrain called the eBeam, which seems like the EV solution to ladder-frame pickups enthusiasts have clamored for. The drivetrain aims to drop into current body-on-frame trucks replacing the internal combustion drivetrain, and leaving behind a fully capable EV truck.

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I suppose it was about time that a company like Magna, one of the largest auto parts makers and contractors in the world, made a system like this.

See their detailed description of the eBeam below:

I had a good laugh when Magna Powertrain President, Tom Rucker, lowkey threw shade at pickup drivers, saying, “change can be scary for pickup truck owners.” He’s not wrong! Even though they’re holdouts for large-displacement engines and simple ladder frame construction, trucks are one of the largest car segments, as Rucker points out, accounting for 20 percent of new vehicles sold in 2020. It’s one of the last segments to embrace the EV transition.

The eBeam wants to fix this by giving automakers a system that can reuse their regular, old ladder frame platforms leaving their current suspension setups in place. What’s left is all the trucky things drivers love but none of the emissions. Or, maybe with lowered emissions since this system can accommodate both PHEV systems or BEV systems. Magna elaborates on this new versatile drivetrain in the following:

Designed specifically to transition pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles to hybrid or full battery electric powertrain systems, eBeam integrates with existing truck architectures, without requiring unique suspension, chassis or brake systems. This approach presents an economical solution that helps bring new electrified trucks to market more quickly, while also preserving towing and payload capabilities.

It’s even possible to put the eBeam into light commercial vehicles with Rucker saying that “a simple gear ratio change is all that is needed to transition from pickup truck service to light commercial vehicle service.”

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Illustration: Magna
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The eBeam as an EV pickup system is undoubtedly cool, but its light commercial application interests me more because of the sheer scale it could provide. Imagine how many government agencies or commercial fleets could partner with automakers to transition current fleets. All those latent EVs and they’re already sitting on lots!

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Screenshot: Youtube
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This isn’t some off-the-shelf EV conversion, either. As cool as that would be, Magna specifies the eBeam is for automakers and not the general public. That could be because eBeam installation is not exactly a matter of drop in and done even if Magna makes it seem like it is.

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Screenshot: Youtube
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Screenshot: Youtube

Truck makers will have to tweak current platforms for batteries because electrification does not entail swapping out a gas tank with battery packs; it’s just not that easy.

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The eBeam gets truck makers nearly there but they have to do some of their own heavy lifting. Though it could help two huge segments transition to either hybrid or full electrification sooner rather than later.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Periodista automotriz, Naturally Aspirated Stan.

DISCUSSION

I’ll take “Unsprung Weight” for £1000, Alex.

Edit to add: Why not put the rear drive motor in the tunnel/on the trans-tcase cross member? That tunnel will be entirely unused and would require even less reworking of the truck. They could still produce just one motor and multiple mounting bracket + driveshaft flange combos. That’d leave the existing rear axle entirely intact and thus the rear suspension in a factory performing condition. Plus, many rear ends are legacy products at this time with both tons of cheap repair parts as well as aftermarket upgrades.