Maxus has adopted a bold electrification strategy that is exemplified by it becoming the first brand to introduce a battery-powered pick-up truck, the T90EV, to sit alongside its eDeliver 3 and eDeliver 9 electric vans. 

A medium-sized plug-in van, the eDeliver 7 will join the line-up following its debut at the CV Show. Maxus’ UK and Ireland boss Mark Barrett says no new diesel products are planned, other than a possible facelift for the Deliver 9 large van.

Maxus revealed the T90EV, which is based on Chinese parent company SAIC’s T90 diesel pick-up, at last year’s CV Show with order books then opening four months later in August 2022. Due to the well-documented supply issues affecting the whole industry, the first models are now only just starting to arrive on these shores.

Barrett expects to sell 1,500 T90s in 2023 and says orders for 1,000 units have already been taken. He names country vets and highway agencies as potential customers and plays down what could be seen as a major disadvantage for a pick-up truck – the fact that the first iteration of the T90EV is rear-wheel drive rather than all-wheel drive – as being of limited significance. He claims what most customers require for their off-the-beaten-track missions is ground clearance (187mm for the T90EV) rather than power delivered through all four wheels. For buyers who are not quite convinced by this prognosis, Maxus promises a 4×4 T90EV will come to market in 2024. This could be a case of not before time, while some manufacturers have historically marketed two-wheel drive trucks in single- or extended-cab modes, and Isuzu still sells a 4×2 D-Max in entry-level Utility trim, there are no other two-wheel drive double-cabs to keep the T90 company.

Maxus is retailing the T90EV through a UK network that currently comprises more than 50 sites and will expand to 65 by the end of the year, according to Barrett. He appreciates that training is required in preparing the network to sell electric vehicles and that dealerships in remote rural locations in particular are not yet ready to go all electric.

“You can’t just hand over the keys like with [a] diesel [van]” he said.

The T90EV has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 3,300kg and is powered by an 88.5kWh battery pack wedded to a 150kW (204hp) electric motor, giving it a claimed range of up to 330km (205 miles) on the WLTP cycle. It has a payload of 1,000kg, enabling it to qualify as a commercial vehicle for VAT purposes and a braked towing capacity of 1,000kg also.

Features include a 10.25in touchscreen in the cab, a reversing camera, LED daytime running lights and 17in alloy wheels. The truck is currently offered in a single trim level. Despite the battery pack sitting beneath the floor of the truck it has a claimed wading depth of 550mm, modest compared to the 800mm of the class-leading Ford Ranger but surprisingly deep for an EV, although I was grateful we did not put this to the test.

We did, however, drive the T90EV in challenging conditions for an electric vehicle; crossing from the east to the west coast of Ireland in swirling snow and freezing temperatures.

The interior heating had to be ramped up to maximum to prevent the cabin from feeling like an ice box, which was enough to induce range anxiety, but despite this the range held up well and we could almost certainly have completed the 145-mile journey without stopping for the ‘better safe than sorry’ recharge at a little over the halfway point.

This served though, to highlight problems with the charging infrastructure that dog both Ireland and the UK; the first charging point we tried refused to accept either the charge card Maxus had provided or a credit card. Luckily there was another charger within a few miles that accepted the Maxus card and plugging in for 20 minutes ensured we had more than enough range to complete the journey comfortably.

A DC fast charge from 20% to 80% capacity takes 45 minutes, according to Maxus but an 11kW AC charge from 5% to 100% takes nine hours. This rises to 13 hours for a 7kW AC fill.

A side step and grab handle aid entry into the cabin, which feels quite basic, despite features such as the large touchscreen that enables Bluetooth and Apple Carplay, and six-way electronically adjustable front seats. Some displays, like the clock and temperature indicator on the screen are tiny and difficult to read.

There is a bush-button starter but the handbrake is an old school lever. A central dial enables simple selection of drive, reverse or neutral and there is a reversing camera as well as rear parking sensors but no forward sensors.

Power outlets of 12V and 220V are included in the package.

When driving in traffic or out on the open road the regenerative braking is efficient – no doubt helping to maintain range – but not overbearing. The electric power-assisted steering though feels light and jittery, which does not inspire confidence when not travelling in a straight line. The ride quality, although reasonably comfortable, would no doubt improve with a load in the back but overall the truck did not feel very well planted to the road at either front or rear on winding, slippery routes where extra caution is advised.

Maxus T90EV Pick-up

Price (ex VAT, inc PIVG) £46,727

Price range (ex VAT, inc PIVG) £46,727

Insurance group tbc

Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls

Service intervals 18,000mls

Load length 1,485mm

Load width 1,510mm

Load bay height N/A

Gross payload 1,000kg

Load volume N/A

Engine size/power 204hp 150kW electric motor

Range (WLTP) 205mls

CO2 0g/km