Can EV Bring Back Cheap Pickup Trucks, New Honda Element and Beetle Diaries [Ask Nathan]

2014 buick verano nathan adlen

  • Can electrification bring back cheap pickup trucks?
  • Will there ever be a new Honda Element?
  • What’s up with the Beetle Diaries?

The first question comes from a fan who wonders if electrification will usher in a new day of cheap pickup trucks.

This cheap pickup truck is the EVLithium pickup truck available overseas.

(Via Twitter@NathanAdlen) I am sick of being robbed every time I buy a truck. 

Even cheap pickup trucks are stupid expensive. I used to buy cheap trucks for almost 1/2 of cars back in the day. Do you think electric trucks can possibly bring down the hopelessly inflated pickup truck prices?  

A: Hi there!

You bring up a good point. If you think about how many moving parts an electric vehicle has, and the fact that the torque numbers of electric motors are impressive when compared to the equivalent gas engine, and the simplicity of electric powertrains, it would make sense.

After I read your Tweet, I wondered about the possibility of building an inexpensive pickup truck for North American consumers. I mean, why not? It doesn’t have to be overbuilt and expensive like a Tesla product – right?

Sure, there are quite a few cottage-industry automakers out there like Workhorse, Rivian and Bollinger (among others) who hope to sell electric trucks, but they ain’t cheap. These vehicles start at over $50,000.

Modern electric vehicles are built on modular platforms. While there are far less moving parts and more simplicity to most electric vehicles, the weight and expense seem to be related to the batteries. Their cost and location appear to be one of the major issues designers face.

That may be part of the problem.

The times I spent overseas, specifically in China, I got to see the abundant use of small electric trucks, especially in large city centers. Most of these trucks were simple vehicles with rudimentary technology and fairly short ranges. Still, there were others in the works that were more sophisticated. Some of these new trucks use lithium ion batteries, have modern safety advances and were about the same size as our small to 1-ton trucks.

I wish we could bring a few over here. Some of those vehicles cost less than $20,000 and had the potential to be badass work trucks here.

Alas, that will never happen. With the current trade climate being what it is, the best hope we have is if an American company makes the commitment. That commitment would be to build a simple, inexpensive and capable pickup – that runs on electricity.

Any takers?


The next question comes from a Honda fan who wants a new Element to hit the market.

Hi Nathan! I love my 2007 Honda Element. It’s way past due and I need a replacement. 

I only buy Honda product but I don’t want a CR-V. Do yo8u think Honda will ever reintroduce the Element?


A: Howdy!

No. Sorry, but nobody at TFLcar expects a reintroduction of the Honda Element. I was fond of its quirkiness and utility, but it had its time in the sun and the Honda HR-V has taken its place in the US fleet.

I like the Honda HR-V, especially the front-drive model with the six-speed manual transmission setup. It’s as utilitarian as a Honda Fit with much more power and comfort. Maybe the new Honda Civic hatchback? It’s fun and fast with good cargo space.

Sorry, those are the only Honda products I can think of that might be logical trades for your old Element.



Can a 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle Make It Up Gold Mine Hill? Beetle Diaries

The last question is about our new Beetle Diaries video series.

Hi TFL! What’s up with that old Beetle you guys have?


Hi Darren!

The Beetle Diaries is a video series where Team TFL takes a recently purchased 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle on many adventures. We want to see how a 46 year-old vehicle, like the Beetle, handles in today’s environment. From daily driving to the Ike Gauntlet, it’s going to tackle it all.

We’ve already shot several episodes with more to come!


Speaking of Volkswagen…

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at:[