Telo, a new California-based electric vehicle start-up is reinventing the concept of pickup trucks. Its new electric truck has the footprint of a Mini Cooper SE, but possibly the same practicality that one would expect from a mid-size truck like the Toyota Tacoma. The $50,000 electric truck is also claimed to be the world’s most efficient.

CEO Jason Marks, an ADAS test systems expert with years of experience in the automotive industry founded the Silicon Valley start-up with CTO Forrest North, who was on the early Tesla team that developed the Roadster. Marks holds patents in LiDAR while North has 15 patents in EV batteries and charging.

To bring their idea to fruition, the founders brought in Yves Behar as Telo’s head of design and advisor. Behar’s track record includes designing for brands like Samsung, L’Oreal, Puma, and Prada among others. He now has the Telo MT1’s design under his belt.

Cute Yute Design

It appears like the mission was to take advantage of the skateboard chassis, eliminate excess space, and maximize practicality. Much of the body, along with some chassis components will be made from carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP), which is reportedly much more affordable to acquire now compared to a few years ago.

The electric truck’s highlight is its compact dimensions. It is only 151.6 inches long – identical to the Mini Cooper SE. It is 73.0 inches wide, and 66.0 inches tall, comparable to the Audi Q4 E-Tron. Unlike traditional trucks, it doesn’t have a long hood – electric propulsion doesn’t necessitate one. Instead, it has a flat front with a skid plate and a raked windshield.

Gallery: Telo MT1 subcompact electric truck

It sports a five-seat crew-cab design and a five-foot bed. That bed is the same length as the Hummer EV's while being 6 inches longer than the Rivian R1T, which gets a 54.0-inch bed.

The bed appears to support multiple variations and uses. It has a storage tunnel underneath, similar to the Rivian, which can also function as a footwell for a third row of seats – the truck can seat 8 if required with the addition of a camper shell. When the bed is extended onto the rear seat, thanks to a modular midgate, users can accommodate a 9-foot surfboard, claims Telo.

Punchy Performance

The subcompact electric truck appears punchy, at least on paper. Its dual motors can produce 500 horsepower. The 4,400-pound truck can sprint from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.0 seconds and has a 125 mph top speed.

Its 106.0 kilo-watt-hour battery can deliver a 350-mile range and can fast-charge from 20-80 percent in 20 minutes, according to Telo. The company will initially use Samsung’s 2170 cylindrical cells, and the pickup will get native North American Charging Standard (NACS) support.

There appears to be a strong focus on tight packaging. The battery pack is just 3.9 inches in height, allowing 10 inches of ground clearance. Off-road tires will come as standard, and so will independent rear suspension.

The total payload capacity is 1,600 pounds, marginally less than the Rivian R1T. However, the towing capacity is only 6,600 pounds, roughly half of what the R1T can pull.

"Our patent-pending battery packs are space-optimized to provide an impressive 350-mile range in between charges in our small footprint while being highly manufacturable," says CTO and co-founder Forrest North.

Interested buyers can pre-order the truck via Telo’s website with a deposit of $152. The working prototype is expected to be ready by the end of summer, reported Electrek. The brand aims to have the first 500 hand-built vehicles by the end of 2025, and another 10,000 contract-manufactured units in 2026. Although, I’d take this promise with a pinch of salt, as start-ups often face delayed timelines.

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