By Tony Barthel
It used to be the “Big Three” had almost no real competition. The barrier to entry for starting a car company was so high that the likelihood of someone doing so was slim to none. The field of automotive startups that died on the battlefield is the stuff of many, many books. But GM and Ford and, to a lesser extent Chrysler, are all still here.
However, a dude who invented a safe payment system for eBay shoppers has completely rewritten the playbook. With Tesla Motors proving that a startup can also shake up the industry, there have been more and more credible startups that have either gained traction or even taken deposits.
Alpha Motor Corporation
Such might also be the case for a company in California called Alpha Motor Corporation. It made a lot of news for the stylish retro electric coupe it unveiled last year called the Alpha Ace. But of interest to RV Travel readers is their most recent announcement, a mini electric pickup with a 3,000-pound towing capacity called the Alpha Wolf Truck.
Listed at $36,000 for a two-wheel-drive model and $46,000 for a fully optioned four-wheel-drive version, the Alpha Wolf claims acceleration of 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, a towing capacity of 3,000 pounds and range in the 250-275 mile area. In fact, you can reserve one of these trucks today and, elsewhere on the company’s website, it says production guesses put them at 2023 or so.
But before you run for your checkbook, know that the images of all of their vehicles look computer-generated. Also, in doing any research on the company, very little comes up. However, “Investors” is one of the tabs on the company’s website and you, too, can fill out their form and send some money.
The company has shown four models thus far and says that all of those are based on essentially the same platform. That makes sense from a production standpoint. GM showed off the same idea with their hydrogen vehicle. I’ve included a photo of me driving one in 2003, so the idea isn’t new. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.
Looking at the Alpha Wolf, it is a full 23 inches shorter than a current Ford Ranger and is two inches narrower, as well. The Ranger’s bed is a full six feet (depending on the model chosen), whereas this truck’s is shorter at 65” (5’ 5”). However, this truck emphatically is designed for two people. Period.
Battery specifications are pretty good, with the company stating it has a 75-85 kWh lithium battery. The batteries in the Tesla Model 3 range from 50-82 kWh, so it’s right in line with that vehicle. The Ford Mustang Mach-E’s battery sizes are 68-88 kWh for comparison.
Retro styling of the Alpha Wolf?
If you describe their passenger car as retro, the same might be ascribed to the styling of the pickup. It reminds me a bit of Ford Courier (remember those?). But it could also be compared to a vintage VW Rabbit pickup. The comparison would continue right to the drive train with the standard motivation for this vehicle being front-wheel-drive – just like those old Rabbits. But you can also opt for four-wheel-drive, which puts it in a different class than that vintage VW pickup. And there’s no smelly diesel engine – these are all-electric.
From the little that I know about engineering, one of the things that is an absolute must in electric vehicles is aerodynamics. With that in mind, things like the light bar and the extreme wheels and tires that protrude from the body of the Alpha Wolf just seem to be incongruous to a design like this. Aerodynamics is also why electric vehicles are quite challenged by the whole aspect of towing a travel trailer. A trailer is like a big barn that is not aerodynamic. However, Safari has very specifically addressed this with their Safari Condo Alto A2124.
I count myself as both a vehicle enthusiast and an early adopter. I get just as excited by a big diesel engine as I do the flat-out performance of an electric. Not only do I just love vehicles, I also appreciate a stylish machine. And while this is one of those, there just isn’t enough actual information I can find about the company to feel comfortable sending them a check. Yet.
I still belong to a press organization of automotive journalists and I could find no record of the company among their ranks. But, then, Tesla also has a disdain for the media. So that doesn’t make this company unique.