A new player in the low-speed electric work truck segment launched with a plastic-bodied, battery-powered utility truck.
Tropos Technologies, based in the Silicon Valley suburb of Morgan Hill, will assemble and market the Cenntro Metro truck via a network of dealerships and service centers, Tropos CEO John Bautista told Trucks.com.
The trucks will be assembled in California and New Jersey, from components shipped from China, where they are built for New Jersey-based Cenntro Automotive Corp.
Tropos has licensed U.S. manufacturing and distribution of the vehicle, which went on sale in China several months ago and last month said it planned to initiate sales in Europe and the Americas.
The Metro is a closed-cab truck with a top speed of 50 mph – although in most states it is limited to 35 mph or less. As a low-speed EV it does not have to meet the same safety requirements as a standard truck or automobile.
Power comes from a single 10 kilowatt, 13.5 horsepower electric motor (32 housepower peak output) that draws from an array of six 12-volt lead-acid batteries. Bautista said a lithium-ion battery would be available later this year but did not provide any details or pricing.
Range for the lead-acid battery models is up to 120 miles per charge, he said.
The low-speed electric work truck market in the U.S. is dominated by Gem, a unit of Polaris Industries, the Minnesota-based snowmobile, motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle manufacturer.
While Gem low speed EVs sport open framework, the Metro is a more truck-like vehicle with a closed two-seat cab. It is equipped with heater, AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, four-wheel disc brakes and power assisted steering, Bautista said.
One of the company’s main selling points will be the truck’s tight turning radius – 12.5 feet versus almost 20 feet for a similarly sized Gem electric utility vehicle.
That’s important in the low-speed EV market because most of the vehicles are used for closed campus work and must drive on sidewalks, in narrow passageways and even in buildings.
The base truck weighs 1,900 pounds and has an 1,100-pound payload. Work packages can add up to 150 pounds, reducing the payload capacity by that much.
The base Metro model comes as an $18,000 flatbed with packages that include a pickup bed or a box truck. The “tradesman” package includes the pickup bed with drop-down sides and a rack for ladders and other equipment. The pickup option is expected to be priced at $18,500, said Bautista, and the other models at $19,000.
Tropos expects to announce it first dealership locations “very soon,” said Bautista. Sales initially will be concentrated in U.S. coastal states, such as California, Georgia, New York and Oregon, that have actively promoted electric vehicle use.