Morris JE: A British Electric Mid-Size Pickup We Can’t Have
The electric pickup market is about to get crazy. With Tesla set to reveal its pickup soon, Rivian’s R1T recently caught live, and Bollinger taking deposits for its off-road designs, US customers are going to have a lot to choose from. But companies outside the US are also working on electric trucks. Chinese automaker DMC recently revealed an electric pickup that costs less than $20,000—but it most likely won’t come to the US. And now, the UK is making electric truck inroads. Joining the Ford Ranger Raptor in pickups denied to the US is the Morris JE, a British electric mid-size pickup (and van) that comes with a long heritage.
A Brief History of Morris Commercial
The Morris Commercial company is actually a spin-off of Morris Motors, the car company that gave the world the original Mini. Morris Commercial started producing heavy commercial vehicles in 1924. Their first vehicle was actually a pickup, the one-ton T-type.
From there, up until 1968, Morris Commercial Cars was one of the UK’s main commercial vehicle suppliers. The company produced everything from car-based vans and pickups to six-wheeled trucks and taxicabs. One of their most iconic vehicles is the J-Type, a commercial van that was almost as popular as the Ford Transit back in the day, notes Autocar. Kind of like the Sprinters and GM cargo vans here in the US.
Although Morris Commercial vehicles were exported to a number of countries, the US was never one of them. The company ceased functioning in 1971 but was resurrected in 2017. The new JE is the first vehicle the restarted firm has brought out.
Morris JE Specs
Design-wise, the JE draws much inspiration from the original J-Type. Only now, the body is made of carbon-fiber, instead of steel. But panel construction isn’t the only part of the JE that benefits from modern technology. The JE rides on a modular chassis, similar in concept to Rivian’s “skateboard” platform. Therefore, Motor Authority reports, the JE will be available in multiple configurations: pickup, enclosed van, and passenger versions.
Inside, the JE features leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The bed also appears to be finished in wood. The JE will also come with navigation as well as multiple cameras to help with parking. Morris Commercial also claims that the JE will come “autonomous driving technology” in the future.
The British firm hasn’t released many details about the JE’s powertrain. However, Autocar reports that it is “UK-sourced”, and that the lithium-ion battery pack will have a 60-kWh capacity. Although the JE’s claimed top speed will only be 90 mph, the battery will allegedly be good for a 200-mile range. Morris Commercial also claim the JE will be able to fast-charge, recharging to 80% max in 30 minutes. The recharge port is hidden behind the JE’s ‘grille’.
The British company also hasn’t released all of the JE’s physical specs. But Morris Commercial does state that the JE can haul a payload up to 2200 lbs. Based on a promotional video released by the firm, the JE appears to be roughly 16’ long, or almost 2’ shorter than the Ford Ranger.
Morris JE vs. Competition
As a British electric mid-size pickup, the JE doesn’t have much competition. The only other truck in its class is the Chinese Rich 6 EV, and that’s staying in China at the moment. And while the Rich 6 EV has roughly the same range, its top speed is only 68 mph, and its payload capacity is only about 1000 lbs. The JE does fall behind other upcoming electric pickups, but Tesla’s, Rivian’s, and Bollinger’s trucks are all full-size.
The Morris JE does compare favorably with non-electric pickups in some ways. Its 2200-lb payload capacity is higher than the Ford Ranger’s, and every other mid-size US-market pickup. But the JE’s electric powertrain also limits it compared to the competition. Based on EPA ratings, a diesel Chevrolet Colorado could go over 500 miles on one tank and have a higher top speed.
And the carbon-fiber-bodied JE is also significantly more expensive. Motor Authority reports that, at current conversion rates, a JE would cost a little more than $75,000. Considering the cheapest Rivian R1T would start at $69,000 and come with a 105-kWh capacity, there might be a reason the JE isn’t coming to the US.
British Electric Mid-Size Pickup Forbidden Fruit
As of this writing, Morris Commercial has no plans to release the JE in the US. Considering the truck’s top speed and range, which seem more suited to the shorter distances of the UK, this makes sense. And with such a high starting price, the JE would most likely sell poorly here anyway.
Then again, Morris Commercial only plans to sell about 1000 units a year, making the JE as much fashion statement as utilitarian truck. And production isn’t starting until 2021. Perhaps in the meantime, a US company will be inspired by this retro pickup. An inexpensive electric mid-size pickup would make an impact on our shores.