MG’s commercial sibling brand is the first to offer an electric pick-up truck in the UK

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Maxus, the commercial vehicle brand reformed by Chinese state-owned manufacturing giant SAIC in 2011 out of the ashes of what was once Leyland DAF Vans, has introduced the UK’s first electric pick-up truck.

The Chinese-built Maxus T90 EV, which has been on sale in other global markets since 2021, has lately been lightly re-engineered in order that it can carry a tonne of payload and therefore qualify under UK commercial vehicle registration rules.

There is a little under-bonnet storage, but you will likely end up keeping your charging cables in the back seats anyway, to the annoyance of second-row passengers.

You can buy one via any one of some 60 Maxus dealers nationwide. As a private buyer, you will need deep pockets and a strong commitment to the idea of running an electric flatbed in order to do so, for reasons we will come to. But as a business, the tax incentives that are currently driving the adoption of electric commercial vehicles make a stronger case for it than many would believe.

This is, after all, a pick-up of rather reduced capacities compared with a modern ICE-engined one. It’s only rear-wheel drive, for example. It may now have a one-tonne cargo capacity, but it goes absolutely no farther beyond that figure - and it can only tow up to a tonne on a braked trailer. If you want rugged and capable from your workhorse truck, it leaves plenty to be desired – especially compared with the sheer toughness and capability of a (considerably cheaper) Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger.

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But since the T90 has got the UK’s electric flatbed scene all to itself for the time being - and especially considering how much there is to saved, from road tax to benefit-in-kind tax to corporation tax, by buying and running an electric CV instead of a diesel one, limitations like that might not be such a problem for the T90.

It comes only in double-cab form and in one equipment specification. It’s driven by a 201bhp permanent-magnet synchronous motor for the rear wheels and is suspended by class-typical leaf springs and a solid rear axle. 

Equipment specification in the cab is of the kind that would make a private buyer stare in quiet disbelief at where their £60,000 might have gone. You get a pretty rudimentary touchscreen infotainment system with no factory sat-nav or DAB radio; fake-leather seat covers; a plastic steering wheel; and not even a manual cruise control, never mind any passenger-car typical driver aids. Electronic stability control is included, as is a reversing camera and smartphone mirroring. But even so, this is certainly an equipment specification aimed at business users who really won’t be looking for deal-sweeteners.

The T90’s driver’s seat and overall ergonomic layout is pretty comfortable, its instrumentation is clear and its secondary controls (among which is a rotary gear selector that feels like it could moonlight on a microwave oven), although cheap-feeling, aren’t complicated to figure out.

The T90 issues a particularly uncouth and irksome Acoustic Vehicle Alert pedestrian safety noise when it’s running below 20mph, so much so that it made me consider driving more quickly than I normally would in built-up areas just to shut it up. What a safety feature. But little else about its driving experience can be singled out for particular praise or castigation - save perhaps one aspect.

It isn't fast, but it gets away from stationary with more than enough thrust and up to motorway speeds thereafter at least as quickly as an equivalent diesel, if not a bit quicker. It will run on up to a limited top speed of only about 80mph - but in a vehicle like this, that feels more than fast enough.

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The motor runs quietly and smoothly, with good throttle response, although it has a slightly slow uptake on trailing-throttle battery regeneration (the T90 could probably use regen paddles to best manage its momentum, especially in a loaded condition).

Real-world range is typically between 190 and 220 miles with no load onboard, depending on how and where you’re driving - although that the range indicator tends to advertise between 10% and 20% more than that isn’t particularly helpful.

The T90 handles well enough for a medium-size truck, with respectable grip and body control and manageable steering weight. There's a little wandering at motorway speeds but little other handling imprecision caused by its rugged-looking, off-road-ready tyres.

If there's one dynamic weak spot to single out, it’s the ride, which feels like that of a pick-up that has just had its rear suspension beefed up ‘whether it liked it or not’. On smoother Tarmac, it’s fine, but it pogos and fidgets quite aggressively over bigger lumps and bumps, becoming more uncomfortable over bad urban roads and on rural lanes than most modern pick-ups and tossing its occupants around a fair bit. Drive it with even a little bit of enthusiasm and those passengers will soon run out of patience with you - but even moreso with the vehicle itself.

All of this, you may think, might be quite hard to swallow for any private buyer whose business wasn’t benefitting to the tune of a tidy five-figure sum as a result of picking the T90 instead of a diesel-engined pick-up. I would tend to agree.

This certainly isn’t a modern lifestyle pick-up by any even remotely credible stretch of the concept as we know it, nor should it be considered some bargain-basement equivalent of a luxury electric flatbed like a Ford F-150 Lightning or Tesla Cybertruck. Although usable, functional and tolerable enough, if it has a place, it’s as a tax-saving working tool – and nobody will likely warm to it more than the business owner whose money it’s saving.

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Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.