Maxus are no stranger to the pick up world having produced diesel versions for many years. The recipe is simple really; build a workhorse with a decent payload/towing capacity with off road capability and if you get the price point right, surely you are on to a winner! In theory this works with combustion power but can it work when you introduce an electric version only? Well, let’s find out with the Maxus T90EV. First impressions are good, I mean it looks like a like a rugged off-roader ready to take on any mission. Up front the large grill wears the Maxus logo proud whilst to the rear, modern taillights sit each side of the tailgate which is adorned by an oversized Maxus badge leaving you under no doubt what vehicle you are sitting behind.
Standard equipment includes reversing camera, rear parking sensors, faux leather seats a ten-inch touchscreen and tasteful 17-inch alloy wheels. Optional extras to pick from include all-terrain tyres, tow bar, winch pack and rear bay roller cover. We were informed that Maxus also offers a subscription to ‘Maxus intelligence onboard’ that pulls live data from the vehicle such as location, speed, driver behaviour and current charge which could work well for fleet operators. Inside the T90EV is comfortable with six-way adjustable electric front seats. Some of the dash plastics are cheap to touch but in the world of pick up’s this isn’t all that uncommon. The fact that it was born as a diesel is somewhat event by the blank spots where the diesel gauge would have been or indeed the drive selector for going off road. Another unusual quirk is the key start, which is very rare for an electric vehicle!
Powering the T90EV is an 88kWh battery, which provides a claimed driving range of approximately 350 kilometres. This in the real world is considerably less running the heating with low daytime temperatures, as we would later find out. Four-wheel drive is currently not available, so the T90EV gets a single 150kW motor powering the rear wheels. Setting off on our test-drive Connemara bound we got to take in a number of different roads including smooth motorway, rough back roads and mountainous passes to capitalise on some snowy scenery. On the motorway the T90EV pulls better than a diesel up to the speed limit and the cabin is quiet and well put together.
Back roads however did pose an issue with the ride becoming a little more, busy to say the least. Ordinarily pick-ups do dance and buck a bit until you have weight in the rear bed to settle the leaf springs but the T90EV certainly puts the seat cushioning to the test over rough surfaces. Perhaps it’s the low-slung battery packs visible underneath. With just 19cm of clearance to the ground and a protruding rear motor, off-roading is most certainly a no go. So what can you carry or possibly pull with the T90EV? Well Maxus state a payload of up to 1,000kg and a braked towing capacity of 1,500kg. For comparison most diesel pick-ups will tow at least 3000kg. You would have to imagine fully loaded the range would suffer drastically under pressure also. So who will opt for an electric pick up and where is it best suited?
For light city work the Maxus T90EV would most likely be ideal. Although not applicable in Ireland just yet it will win in emission free zones with no competition in many markets at present. If your company works in tunnels, indoors or perhaps in noise sensitive areas the T90EV will be the silent emission free workhorse providing you don’t go off road! We spent a day getting to know the T90EV and it is a perfectly acceptable vehicle if used in the right application. As we were out west it would be amiss of me not mention my return journey to Dublin and how it faired out on range. With an indicated 308 kilometre range left and a 246 kilometre journey I knew it would be tight given the freezing daytime temperatures.
Once on the motorway I brought the T90EV up to the speed limit and flicked on the heating. Immediately I lost 80 kilometres of range so quickly opted to put back on my jacket! As the kilometres passed my range anxiety began to build. I reduced speed from 120km/h to 100km/h and three quarter way into my return journey, it became evident I wouldn’t make it back to Dublin. At this point the range gauge was dropping into the red but with 30 kilometres left and 20 to a charging station I figured we were safe. Moments later the vehicle limited the power to 80 kph and subsequently 60 kph for the last 10 kilometres of my journey. I suppose these are things you never find out unless you truly test a vehicle! Needless to say I made it to the charge station with 1% of battery to spare.
The last 30 kilometres felt like an eternity but for some reason I was happy the T90EV limited the power like an old school fuel tank reserve, which aided me in getting to the charge point. Once plugged into the fast charger, the T90EV received 50% of its capable range in just 30 minutes while I took on board some much needed caffeine. My final jaunt to Dublin was less stressful and the T90EV was returned in one piece. The final piece of this puzzle is indeed the price. Maxus have listed the T90EV Elite specification which we tested at €75,650 including Vat and VRT. This puts it up there with, and above many of its combustion-powered competitors. The big question is, does this two-wheel drive electric pick up suit your needs or should we wait for an all wheel drive variant with a larger battery?