This Company Plans To Make Diesel-Electric Conversion Kits for Old Pickups

Converting your old workhorse to electric might not be so bad if there's still a Caterpillar diesel under the hood.
Edison Motors

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that battery tech has a ways to go before it can completely replace internal combustion, especially in trucks. Still, electrification is promising, and it can actually be a boon to productivity and performance when done right. Edison Motors out of Canada aims to prove that, first with its diesel-electric Class 8 vehicles and then with its newly announced project: series hybrid pickup conversions pairing a Caterpillar diesel generator with electric motors.

Let me be clear in saying this is still in the beginning stages. That’s what we said about Edison’s electrified logging truck concept not long ago, of course, and now there’s a driving prototype of the thing. It’s for that reason I’m cautiously optimistic that these gung-ho engineers will follow through with their plans of future-proofing light-duty trucks just the same.

The company promises that trucks with this kit and 35-inch tires will max out at 87 miles per hour. Edison Motors

Edison’s website details both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive options. The former is a 350-horsepower setup, presumably with a single electric motor powering the rear wheels, and the latter is a 500-hp offering with a drive unit for each axle. A 60-90 kilowatt-hour lithium-iron-phosphate battery will provide the juice and when it runs low, it’ll be charged back up with a Caterpillar diesel engine. Exactly which CAT Edison plans to use is unclear, but we see a very similar layout in the company’s “Topsy” semi-truck with a 9.3-liter inline-six.

For the kits, Edison promises a 600-volt electrical architecture with DC fast charging via a CCS1 port.

Edison says it will offer single-rear-wheel and dually options, supporting the idea that these kits will be made to work. That’s backed up by the 7,716-pound load rating for each axle, which is slightly above a 2024 Ford F-350 SRW. The electrified powertrain will almost certainly be heavier than a traditional diesel engine alone, but this could potentially turn classic trucks into even mightier workhorses.

Importantly, these kits will be delivered to and installed by certified Edison dealers. You don’t have to rely on your 12-valve Cummins knowledge to swap your truck over to a high-voltage electrical system, in other words. That’s also a plus for service, as Edison is seeking out certified dealer partners across the United States and Canada.

Here’s my 1995 Ford F-350. Imagine it with a diesel-electric drivetrain if the 7.3-liter Power Stroke ever goes kaput! Caleb Jacobs

The small start-up plans to show a completed prototype by September 2024 with regular production starting mid-2025. Edison claims to have all the parts chosen and supplier agreements in place. The kit will “ideally” retail for one-third to half the price of a new diesel truck while providing estimated savings of 30% on fuel. That may not sound like much to everybody, but if you’re using a truck for your business, that could really add up over time.

That’s the hope for this project, it seems—extending the usable life of existing trucks. That alone is a respectable aspiration considering the resources required to build new electric pickups with their huge battery packs. Sure, it won’t be for everybody, but I have a hunch that a market will form for these kits if Edison follows through. You can reserve your own today for $250.

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