COMPANIES STRUGGLE FOR THE FUTURE ELECTRIC TRUCK
Let the battle begin!
Maybe this sounds like a trailer for the next Transformer opus, in which cars and trucks are transforming themselves in huge fight robots. Currently, it’s less stunning, only putting more electricity in working trucks.
Many companies are engaged in the run to remake the multibillion-dollar trucking industry. Tesla makes lots of communication around that. Elon Musk presented in November 2017 a prototype for a battery-powered and almost self-driving semi-truck. The technology is the same as in Tesla model 3 and model S. The company argues it proved to be less costly and more efficient to operate than diesel trucks which are driving through the country to deliver goods.
Obviously Tesla is not the only one who wants to be in the game. One of the big competitor in range is Navistar, currently holding 11% of the market for trucks in the heaviest Class 8 weight segment. Navistar is also developing an electric truck with Volkswagen Truck & Bus. They concluded agreement to work together, develop news vehicles and purchasing to take advantage of volume discount. If Tesla planned to launch the production in 2019, Navistar and Volkswagen Trucks want to release their trucks in late 2019 or early 2020.
Navistar also has a great advantage due to the wide networks of dealers nationwide, whereas Tesla sells its car only in stores. That may be a decisive aspect to provide maintenance services, specially when the warranty is still running.
Moreover, Tesla proposes only two ranges of trucks, 300 miles and 500 miles while competitors will come to have range of as little as 100 miles. And after the loss of warranty, electric trucks may use local routes to be closer to terminals in case they run of electricity but the economics of buying electric engines for those routes do not make sense for the industry as it works currently.
But some take Tesla’s very seriously, for instance UPS ordered 125 trucks. Tesla doesn’t have experience in truck market and has to built-in customer base. Companies such as Navistar regularly sell 1000 trucks per order… And many competitors such as Daimler already tested electric trucks and self-driving technology.
In the battle for electric trucks, all companies seem to be in the same boat.