Skip to main content

Before the Cybertruck or the Rivian R1T, there was The Havelaar Bison. This was a weird truck. But it was the Canada’s first electric truck. It was designed, built, and tested as a prototype in Canada and it was hailed as just the thing that farmers in Alberta needed.

It was weird, but it beat Tesla to building a prototype

A tweet announcing the launch of the Havlaar Bison truck.

Longtime truck fans, and especially fans of electric trucks, should remember the Bison. Havlaar took a blue, two-door, long-bed, truck to several automotive shows and successfully made a big deal of the Bison in 2017 and 2018.

Around this time, Elon Musk was talking about building the first Tesla truck, and Rivian was just starting to show off its R1T prototypes. Today, you can buy a Rivian, Musk is still promising we’ll see the Cybertruck, but the Bison seems forgotten about.

What was the Bison? Weird.

One reviewer called the Bison’s styling “amateurish.” While it wasn’t exactly the stylish Kia EV6 inside, it looked suitably modern for a work truck. Instead of analog gauges, it had a basic rectangular screen. Just like Tesla it mounted a touchscreen in the middle of the cabin. Three were two cupholders, two seats, and speakers. What more does a farmer need?

But the outside looked, well, future weird. It had flared fenders and a sloping nose. The sides were accented by aluminum-looking panels on the top and bottom. As a two-door, instead of a four-door like most modern pickups, the designed seemed like it was a generation behind even five years ago.

The company promised a 200-mile range from the two-motor all-wheel-drive system. It did feature many of the same options that a Rivian R1T would later offer, such as a power outlet for cordless tools.

A prototype was spotted driving around

Though a few videos exist of the Havlaar Bison driving around, there is no record of a magazine ever doing a road test of one.

Does Havlaar still exist?

The company made a large media splash in 2017, and then disappeared. After its original big splash, the company went dark. It seems there’s no record of any other versions, or colors, of the Havlaar Bison.

Havlaar Canada is now eLeapPower.  Havlaar developer Tony Han is now the founder and CTO of eLeapPower, a Toronto, Canada, based company that is working to develop a new type of powertrain system for electric vehicles. One of the biggest issues eLeapPower says with current electric vehicles is their on-board charger. eLeapPower aims to reduce wait and complexity of electric cars by eliminating the on-board charger.

In 2021, the eLeapPower announced it had received Series A funding. Today, the Havelaar Canada website redirects eLeapPower’s.

Related: Guide to New and Upcoming Electric Pickup Trucks