Best of Trucks, Van Life and SUVs from 2021

Here’s three things that sharply impacted the design of trucks, vans and SUVs this year: Electric, which is being promoted as a greener alternative; size concerns, which are leading to a rash of micro-trucks; and the pandemic, which has spurred renewed interest in living/working out of one’s vehicle.

During the Texas ice storm and blackout of 2021, Ford gained some free publicity when news outlets reported that F-150 hybrid owners were able to power their homes with their trucks.

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Unsurprisingly, when Ford later announced the upcoming all-electric F-150 Lightning, it drew strong interest.

Startup Canoo also revealed their forthcoming electric pickup truck, which has a lot of great design features, and some questionable ones.

GMC unveiled their crazy, crab-walkin’ hi-tech SUV version of their Hummer EV.

Don’t like the looks of these newfangled EV trucks? You can always build your own; Ford announced they’re going to start selling e-crate engines, and retrofitted one into this 1978 F-100 as a proof-of-concept.

Another thing that’s going electric is delivery vans. We discussed some of the design elements of Arrival’s forthcoming model.

Speaking of delivery vans, the USPS finally unveiled their next generation mail truck design (they’re still deciding if it will be electric or not). It’s totally goofy-looking—and I love it, for a mail truck design.

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As for some unusual and non-electric delivery trucks, Japan’s Hino, a Toyota subsidiary, modifies their massive trucks to race in the Dakar Rally!

These aren’t exactly delivery trucks, but we did stumble across an Italian manufacturer of wickedly rectilinear food trucks.

A vehicle that’s both large and electric is British company Aurrigo’s self-driving Auto Shuttles. One thing they aren’t is easy on the eyes. I wrote that they look like they were designed as a CAD tutorial.

Dropping down to minivans for a second, Porsche designers randomly answered the question: What would a Porsche minivan look like?

While trucks and SUVs have been growing in size for some time, there’s also a reverse reaction where people are shrinking them. EV startup Alpha unveiled their upcoming single-cab short-wheelbase model.

Meanwhile Opel presented the opposite of an SUV, their tiny SUM (Sustainable Urban Mobility) vehicle. And yes, that’s actually how the doors work.

Similarly, Hyundai presented their Casper, a sub-$12,000 Micro SUV for the Asian market.

Also for the Asian market, specifically China, GM developed this tiny $9,000 pickup truck.

For a smaller truck you can get in the U.S., Ford announced their Maverick, $20,000 compact hybrid pickup truck that gets 40 MPG. Pre-orders went crazy.

Then there’s this curious mini-truck: Honda converted one of their cab-over Japanese work trucks into an autonomous model, removing the cab. The headless truck is being trialed at a massive construction site in New Mexico.

Let’s talk UI/UX for a sec. I raved about the fantastic UX design in the Ford Bronco’s doors, which are removable. The designers really thought through every little detail.

Then I wrote an offhanded post bitching about the terrible UX of the gas gauge in the Volkswagen Atlas—and you wouldn’t believe how much traffic it did. I hate being reminded that in this day and age, people love negativity.

Probably not great UX, is trying to get in and out of the 1967 Dodge Deora concept.

Hypercar designer Frederik Steve Kristensen tackled a Dodge Deora 2022 redesign. Ingress and egress look a little more manageable.

Another weird vintage pickup we spotted was this rare 1961 chevy pickup with a side loading ramp.

The pandemic helped ignite people’s fantasies of wandering in vehicles. Nissan’s Mobile Office Pod concept van was a big hit, promising a work-from-anywhere platform.

And as van life took off, business has been booming for Design/Build Firm Chewy Design Co.’s van-to-home conversions.

Then there’s van life for the 1%: Check out this bad-ass German luxury motorhome.

Some people sleep in their trucks because it’s part of their job. We took a look at the interiors of sleeper cabs for long-haul truckers, to see what the designers have done to make them livable.

Lastly, this year we encountered the terrifying tale of a truck that drove over the side of a bridge, and was held dangling in place only by the safety chain attached to its trailer. Incredibly, the four occupants—two humans and two dogs—were safely rescued.

Drive safe, folks!

Source: core77

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