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GM Introduced the First Electric Pickup Back in 1997

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Chevrolet S10 EV pickup
The Chevrolet S10 EV
Photo: Mike Weston under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Several automakers are racing to bring electric pickups into production soon — but more than 20 years ago, General Motors got there first.

GM first released the Chevrolet S10 EV in 1997 as part of an experimental program, producing several hundred of the models primarily for fleet use.  

The S10 EV was built as a combination of a regular S10 short-bed compact truck and an electric motor system from GM’s EV1 car. The powertrain, which combined a 114-horsepower electric motor and a 1,400-pound, 16.2-kWh battery under the bed, made the S10 EV very heavy — nearly 4,200 pounds. The S10 EV also carried a diesel-enabled heater to keep the battery warm and give the heat-pump AC system some help.

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According to one test run at the time, the S10 EV could travel nearly 39 miles on a single charge when driven at a steady speed of 60 mph. At 45 mph, range increased to about 60 miles. In another test with more varied speeds, the S10’s range varied from 35 to 43 miles. The S10 EV could also haul a payload of about 950 pounds.

At $33,305, the S10 EV wasn’t exactly cheap — especially for the late ‘90s. In 1998, it got a new 39-kWh battery that doubled its range but also sent the price even higher.

Unfortunately for the S10 EV, it was a little too far ahead of its time. A combination of too-high costs and too-low battery range meant that it had limited appeal as a practical work truck, and GM ended production in 1998.

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News Sources:, GM Authority