This Company Is Turning Used Corollas Into $35K Compact Electric Pickups

These little electric utes should be useful for local tradespeople.

byNico DeMattia| PUBLISHED Sep 4, 2022 6:45 PM
This Company Is Turning Used Corollas Into $35K Compact Electric Pickups
Share

At the moment, there are no small electric pickup trucks on the market in North America. An all-electric Ford Maverick is likely on the way, with more brands to follow thereafter, but if you want a small electric pickup right now, you're out of luck. Unless you live in Stratford, in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, as there's a company building compact electric pickups out of used Toyota Corollas.

Upcycle Green Technology takes used 2009-2013 Corollas, most of which are already headed to a scrap yard, and gives them new life as efficient, electric utility vehicles for tradespeople, laborers, and fleet companies. They don't have long ranges but they're efficient, cheap to run, and offer enough utility to make useful additions to a company's fleet or act as a work vehicle for a local businessperson.

According to founder and owner Natal Antonini, the average light truck on P.E.I. uses about $30 worth of fuel per 100 kilometers, while his electric Corolla pickups use around $2.50 of electricity over the same distance. Replacing several trucks in a fleet with these Corolla pickups could save thousands of dollars over the course of a year, according to Upcycle. But it's even more impactful for local electricians, carpenters, and small business owners, who are more affected by rising fuel cost.

Antonini, who moved to P.E.I. from Brazil through Canada's provincial nominee program, told CBC "We have a lot of these small pickup trucks in Brazil, but here in North America, it's hard to find one. So we think there is a good niche market for this kind of vehicle." 

Antonini says the electric Corolla pickups have a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles) and will cost around $35,000. There's also going to be a more expensive model with a longer range. While Upcycle doesn't say what kind of electric motor or batteries will power the Corolla pickups, the site does provide a few details. The battery pack is said to be 26 kWh and the electric motor should make 136 horsepower. Antonini also said production will be around 100 per year, with that ramping up to 200 per year in the coming years.

Upcycle's Corolla-based electric utes are also incredibly green vehicles. Taking a used vehicle and cramming it with already existing batteries means there's almost no CO2 emissions in the production process. Upcycle also recycles all of the donor Corolla's fluids, metals, and plastics. Some of the metals are even cut, modified, and repurposed onto the final electric car. Nothing is wasted.

These electric Corolla pickups aren't going to rival any mainstream automaker's compact electric trucks, whenever those come out. And they are a bit pricey for cars that can only travel 93 miles in between charges. But in the meantime, they are fuel efficient and environmentally friendly utility vehicles that could make a lot of sense for the local tradesperson or small business fleet, who's going to spend that sort of money on a work vehicle anyway. It's going to help locals more than anyone else.

According to Antonini, that's really all that he's aiming to achieve. "We have a small island, and a small car company. So I think it's pretty nice."