Ask Nathan: Pininfarina Designs Hercules Alpha EV Pickup, Real Mini Minivan Hate, and Pulling Punches?

Will Pininfarina’s design assistance turn Hercules Alpha EV pickups into the real deal? (Images: Hercules)

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Pininfarina will design the Hercules Alpha EV Pickup – will it happen?
  • The Mini Urbanaut Minivan is for real?
  • I think you guys are pulling your punches.

The first question comes from an EV fan who wants to know more about the story regarding Pininfarina (SpA) designing the Hercules Alpha EV Pickup.

Q: Just saw this story about Pininfarina being hired to design the Hercules Alpha EV pickup truck.

Nathan. I need you to help me with this. Last time I checked, the Hercules Alpha EV was vaporware. It was a complete fantasy that uses some cruddy graphics to make a nonexistent truck. Dream much? Have you looked at some of their renderings? They look like they were done during a drunken argument!

I know the early ones were based on previous generation trucks, but I can’t quite figure out what these new renderings are base on. Some help? I totally wrote them off because I thought they were a joke.

Now I hear the they entered into a partnership with Pininfarina to design their truck. Where did I miss this big nugget!? aI guess they might be for real after all. By the way my favorite bad is Styx. What do you think?

Citric Acid is Bad

A: I gotta admit, I was a little shocked to see this on the wire.

Just like you said: I was dismissing Hercules as a startup wit no real direction. They promised a unique pickup truck with an all-EV. According to the automaker, the EV pickup will make over 1,000 horsepower, and 800 lb-ft of torque. It is supposed to have an “exclusive” solar tonneau cover. They say it will harnesses enough power from the sun to fuel most daily commutes. This cover is supposed to generate 1.2kW, but they neglected to comment on how long charging will take.

Hercules also states that they have an eight-KwH AC inverter that can power appliances; similar to Ford I guess. Truck is siupposed to be fully customizable, from the powertrain to the interior. There is no official pricing on the truck that I can see, but they do sell official swag on their website.

Now, if you look at the “design” of these renderings, you’ll see its a mildly disguised Nissan Titan pickup truck. Meaning, like the older Chevrolet in their previous renderings – this one is not a prototype. Simply put, it doesn’t exist.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a hidden prototype we haven’t seen yet. There may be. Unfortunately, with these renderings proving to be fantasy, even with this Pininfarina announcement, I have a hard time believing that they actually have (or will have) a product.

I hope I’m proven wrong.

— N

Speaking of questionable startup pickup truck EVs…

The next question comes from a Mini hater who is surprised to see the Mini Urbanaut minivan take shape.

Yep, it’s not a sketch or rendering; it’s a physical concept. Still, don’t expect to see the Mini Urbanaut as a production vehicle. Its purpose is to show Mini’s packaging and tech savvy – and a hint about their future direction. (Images Mini)

Q: (Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Hate Mini and hate that you like Mini. But I’m surprised that they built a rolling version of their (Mini Urbanaut) minivan sketch.

Half of all Minis brake down their first year and yet you not only love them you even own one. You are wrong about them being good cars! I will never trust your judgement. And I will never see Mini sell any of these minivans either. It looks stupid.

— III&Me

A: So, you’re saying you dislike Mini – right?

Before we talk about the Mini Urbanaut concept, I wanted to address some of your comments.

Yes, I like Mini. It’s for a simple reason: they are fun as hell to drive. My philosophy is (and always has been) pretty simple, if a vehicle makes your happy, it’s good. My Mini makes me, and more importantly, the Boss Lady – happy.

I never said they were particularly reliable, but I know several owners who have been pleased with their Minis over the years. Not only that, but TFL Studios has shown how costly Minis can be. At the same time, every single Mini I’ve driven has put a massive smile on my face. Every-single-one.

By the way, where did you get the statistic about half of all Minis break down after their first year? I can’t find those numbers anywhere, and I have access to pretty good resources.

I get it, you hate the brand. Maybe it would be a good idea not to buy one then – right?

As for the Mini Urbanaut, it’s just a concept, one that used to be a rendering/sketch, but now it is a proper rolling concept. That will help Mini showcase its future image at car shows and whatnot. There are no plans to produce this concept, but it will be a good tool to gauge public opinion.

— N

The last question/comment comes from a viewer who thinks we pull our punches.

TFL Studios - page featured image

Q: (Paraphrased) Over the years, I noticed that you rarely call out other “journalists” who are just terrible.

Nathan. It’s like you and Roman and Andre are pulling your punches. I know you’ve seen dozens of influencers who call themselves “automotive journalists” copy stuff you do all the time. Most of those people are not even “car people” or “gear-heads.” They are just fronting, And you know it.

These “journalists” post fake numbers and are into buying views to look respectable on social media. Worse, they toot their own horn when they manage to farm these fake numbers. Happens all the time and you know it.

Most of them are out to get a social media post without giving us anything useful. It’s like “look at me! I’m getting a free vacation and, oh yes I am in front of some car. Don’t I look cool with my friends and family?” It is almost embarrassing and it makes all automotive journalist look like a joke. And they have the nerve to spread false facts and misinformation all the time.

You should call them out and expose them.

— Maxx A

A: Thanks for the insight, but we’re good.

Everyone has their own style, and even TFL Studios gets some inspiration from other competitors. It’s just part pf the business. We are aware of what others do, but I don’t see any harm in what they present. Some folks are in it for themselves, others are actually trying to present useful consumer information.

The best part is: the viewer/read can choose who they want to observe from a large list. Sure, we’ve seen evidence about some folks cooking their numbers, but it’s inconsequential to us. We’ve seen that, in time, some of these folks will get bitten by doing this. Once your poor integrity is outed – things tend to fall apart around you.

Now, if they say something false, something that could have negative connotations regarding the buying public, or an automaker, we will call them out. We will not hesitate if we see something that’s hazardous, or misleading.

No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. TFL Studios has made plenty, but we always acknowledge it when we do. Usually, if something screwy pops up from another source, we’ll give them an off-the-record courtesy call about the issue. Often, they will recant or retract the information in question. If that doesn’t pan out – things change. We have no problem shining a spotlight on folks who provide false information to the public – especially if it’s safety related.

Thanks again for the note, but it’s best to just ignore those you deem unworthy.

You’ll be happier – I promise.

— N