Electric cars are a hot topic globally, but electric heavy duty trucks gain momentum every week, appearing in the portfolios of all of the major players, plus some newcomers, on the North American truck scene. Diesel News’ US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, reports.
At a major unveiling at WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA last week, two new zero emission heavy-duty trucks landed on stage from Nikola Motor Company, branded Nikola Two and Nikola Tre.
It is very difficult to judge how soon the electric truck myth will become a reality. When it does we can be sure it will change the trucking world completely, but it may take some time here in Australia.
Volvo Trucks has anounced that the first electric trucks delivered by the company are now working as garbage and distribution trucks for the waste and recycling company Renova, and the logistics company DB Schenker and partner haulier TGM, all operating in Sweden.
The handing over of an eM2, the first fully electric Freightliner to Penske Truck leasing, sees Daimler Trucks starting day to day-operational testing of heavy-duty and medium-duty e-trucks in the United States.
Diesel News’ US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, reports the recently unveiled Nikola electric truck may be heading for Australia. This week saw the unveiling of a new cabover truck from the pioneering Nikola brand in the US, aimed squarely at the European and Asia Pacific truck markets.
As accurate as they proved to be, those sneak preview photos didn’t reveal inside the Tesla truck. The interior of the Tesla Semi, in fact, features a centrally located driver’s seat behind the enormous curved windshield. The side glass flows smoothly around the surprisingly thin A pillars, so the driver’s view forward is unparalleled.
The steering position, with a small, car-like wheel on the model at the walk-around intro, was flanked on either side by flat panel displays from the Model 3 that are customisable, as in the Tesla cars. In fact, this not only represents a major advance in driver controls, it is actually cheaper for Tesla to integrate the same flat-panel technology it uses in the cars instead of creating a regular dashboard.
On the walk-around day-cab truck, there was a small passenger seat against the back wall for a riding helper or driver instructor. For anyone who attended the launch of the Nikola, there are obvious similarities to the Nikola launched last year. But there are significant differences, too. The 6×4 walk-around truck featured a drive tandem, each conventionally air-sprung drive axle featuring a power pack from a Tesla Model 3 on the nose of the axle, with separate motors for each wheel.
The air-ride is conventional heavy duty, with regular looking frame rails. The Tesla guide said the battery pack resides beneath the cab, and a conventional fifth wheel allows for trailer coupling. The cab looks like a sleeper from the outside but that’s because the cab sides extend well back from the back of the cab.
The industry has not been slow to respond, with several having expressing their interest immediately – though the trucks are not expected to go into production until 2019. Truckload carrier J.B. Hunt was among the first fleets to publicly reveal it had reserved the truck – or several, in fact.
“Reserving Tesla trucks marks an important step in our efforts to implement industry-changing technology,” said John Roberts, President and CEO at J.B. Hunt. “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilising this new, sustainable technology.”
Major US grocery chain Meijer has placed down US$5,000 ($6,560) to reserve four models – though reservations are reported to be $5,000 per truck, and mega retailer Walmart has revealed it is considering how the Tesla Semi will fit in its distribution plans.
“We have a long history of testing new technology, including alternative-fuel trucks, and we are excited to be among the first to pilot this new heavy-duty electric vehicle,” Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said in an email. “We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions.”
Unusual for a car company, the design team appears to understand the needs of the commercial user of the Tesla product. If it delivers the operational savings promised, early customers like Hunt and Walmart will be delighted. Technicians too, because the electric drivetrain is so much less complicated than the emissions-saddled diesel powertrain. But drivers? They’ll hate it if they prefer ‘real’ trucks. But millennials – and that’s where the new drivers are to come from – will love them.
The launch of the Tesla semi prime mover has been characterised by hype, hype and more hype, with a series of leaks building up anticipation before the launch. Here is the moment the truck was finally unveiled in front a bunch of baying fans and assembled journalists, most of whom do not know one end of a truck from another. Read more
In the US recently, Cummins unveiled its all-electric powertrain demonstration truck in its home city of Columbus, Indiana. The event took many by surprise, with Cummins is underscoring the move to electric traction – as the environmental alternative to diesel – as a power choice for vocations that can use it going into the next decade.
Based on what appeared to be an International Class 7 cab and chassis, heavily modified by Detroit engineering and performance house Rousch Engineering, the two-axle Aeos featured a production-intent Cummins electric power module, and a single, direct-drive motor and battery pack.
Keeping up with the world of trucks, the news this week is about Peter Langworthy Stepping Down, an Isuzu Concept and an Electric Truck with 350km Range.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, Fuso Trucks announced it will electrify its complete range of trucks and buses in upcoming years. The show saw the unveiling of the E-Fuso, an all-electric heavy-duty truck concept with a range of up to 350 m. Named E-Fuso Vision One, it is said to mark the top end of the electrification path of the company’s portfolio in the upcoming years. Read more