The Chevrolet S10 EV Was An Electric Pickup Truck Ahead Of Its Time

The advances in battery technology have led to massively increased EV range, performance, and weight savings, while allowing designers and engineers more flexibility when it comes to the packaging technology. Nowadays, there are electric vehicles of just about any flavor — from ultra-fast hypercars to family friendly hatchbacks, and off-road-conquering pickup trucks.

Before Tesla — and arguably the Toyota Prius to an extent — ushered in the EV boom of the 2010s, a few auto manufacturers tried their hand at developing an electric vehicle platform. Unfortunately, these were nothing like the high-performance modern electric vehicles we know and love today. Sure, we might complain today about the 110-mile range of the Mini Cooper SE in 2022, but the lithium-ion cells in the likes of the Cooper SE and its contemporaries are around five times more energy-dense than the lead-acid cells that came in EVs before the modern EV craze (via Cummins). The Chevrolet S10 EV was an electric pickup truck that came out well before the EV boom, and suffered for its lack of range due to poor battery technology. However, it was still pretty impressive given it was launched in 1997.

Feature image by Mike Weston via Flickr | Cropped and Scaled | CC BY 2.0

A truck before its time

According to U.S. Department of Energy performance statistics published on the Idaho National Laboratory [PDF], the 4200-pound Chevrolet S10 EV was powered by a 1267-pound lead-acid battery, with a rated capacity of just 16.2 kWh. For context, Motor and Wheels claims the 50 kWh Tesla Model 3 Standard Range battery weighs in at around 1,060 pounds. As you might expect, the small battery pack on the electric S10 made the range rather poor — coming in at a measly 43.8 miles — while the motor and computer limited the top speed to just 70 mph. The small battery did have some perks, though, taking only five hours and fifteen minutes to charge on a 260V adapter, according to the DOE documentation. 

The S10 EV featured a few familiar bells and whistles, and others that might have you raising an eyebrow. In the camp of "pretty neat, but not unexpected," we have regenerative braking, cruise control, and ABS. On the stranger side of the features list, we have an auxiliary diesel-fuel-fired heater that kicks in at below 40 degrees Fahrenheit — which means that yes, you still need to put diesel in GM's first all-electric pickup. According to, while only 492 units of the S10 EV were ever produced — most of which were only available as part of a lease program to eventually be destroyed — only 60 S10 EVs were eventually sold to consumers, making them almost as rare as its EV1 cousin