With fuel costs being one of the largest costs in the transportation industry, diesel fuel may be approaching its decline. Companies are racing to be the first to bring about a revolution of fueling to reap the rewards. Many alternative power systems are being researched, but none has caught the public’s eye quite like electric vehicles. Here are the companies behind the new revolution of electric power.
In August of 2017, Cummins unveiled its first fully electric truck. The company called this new machine an “Urban Hauler Tractor”, a Class 7 truck that weighs 18,000 pounds and can have a payload of up to 44,000 pounds. It is very efficient by big rig standards, being able to go 100 miles on a charge of 140 kWh. If the range of 100 seems too small, Cummins also offers an optional diesel extender to add 200 miles while making the rig a hybrid.
Cummins is still working on making the electric semi truck a completely viable option. Today, their electric vehicles have Power2E technology, allowing the use of the vehicle’s electrical energy to power other items such as power tools, entertainment stations, and even other electric vehicles.
Despite Cummins’ best efforts to jumpstart electric semi trucks, the market has not met Cummins’ enthusiasm in kind. Cummins has purchased Silicon Valley tech startups and has over 11 million miles of testing, but so far according to their website have only sold 200 electric trucks.
Not merely content with making electric passenger cars popular, Tesla has moved into the commercial vehicle market to upend the diesel engine. In order to accomplish this herculean task, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has plans to implement “megachargers” that will be able to charge the Tesla Semi’s battery pack to 400 miles in approximately 30 minutes.
We at TopMark Funding have written a lengthy article about the Tesla Semi, which you can read about here.
Daimler is already behind some of the most popular semi truck brands in North America. Daimler trucks have actually been a few years ahead of the curve of electric commercial vehicle development, using the Mercedes Benz label to introduce an electric medium-duty truck in 2016.
The German company hopes to leverage its Freightliner brand to convince hardened truck drivers to make the change to electric motor vehicles with the Freightliner eCascadia.
Beginning production in 2021, Daimler has high hopes for the Freightliner eCascadia. They state on its webpage that it will have a limit of 750 horsepower and will be able to go 250 miles on a 550 kWh battery charge. When the battery is drained of energy, it takes 90 minutes for it to reach 80% capacity and go another 200 miles.
These numbers are less lucrative than what Tesla advertises, and Daimler is fully aware of this. In fact, Daimler’s head of trucks, Martin Duam, has been on record to say Tesla must be violating the laws of physics to get their specifications, implying in a not-so-subtle manner that Tesla may be practicing false advertising.
Nikola Motor Company is not a name that turns heads quite like Cummins, Tesla, or Freightliner does, but with their NikolaOne, they are hoping to change that.
The NikolaOne comes in three flavors, hydrogen-electric, 100% battery electric, and diesel. While the webpage makes it abundantly clear that Nikola Motor Company believes hydrogen-electric to be the best of the three, this does not diminish the features of the battery electric in its own right.
The battery electric version gets 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 pound-feet of torque, can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 30 seconds, and can go up to 350 miles on a single charge of the battery. The only downside that Nikola Motor Company has not yet ironed out is the charge time, they state it still takes a few hours to fully charge the battery.
They allow you to reserve your own NikolaOne for zero dollars down, so you can obtain one when they are released, which is projected to be in 2021. Nikola Motor Company also markets the NikolaTwo, the only noticeable difference being the Two is a day cab whereas the One has a sleeper cabin.
Recently Nikola has been in the news for various different reasons. Check out our other electric vehicle articles for more information.
Originally named Thor Trucks after the Norse god of thunder, Xos Trucks is a Los Angeles based startup hoping to beat Tesla to the punch in being the first “cool” electric semi-truck to hit the market. They advertise the ET One to be able to travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, comparable to the lower range Tesla Semi. Perhaps the most interesting feature stated is that the engine gets full torque starting at 0 RPM, making hills and steep grades easier to climb than ever.
Time will tell if the Xos ET One beats the Tesla Semi to market; both were slated for a 2019 release but have since been postponed.
On the surface the Einride’s planned electric big rigs sound subpar: they will only have 124 miles on a single charge, and will have initial sales exclusively in Sweden instead of the United States, but Einride has one trump card that makes it a viable contender in the race for electric trucks.
At the same time Einride is trying to make an electric commercial vehicle, it is trying to make a fully autonomous electric vehicle. While others such as Tesla have driver assistance features that still require a human to maintain full attention to the road, Einride is designing their electric trucks not to require a driver at all: they do not even have a windshield!
American truckers will have to wait to get their hands on one: Einride hopes it will have its first 200 trucks hauling freight automatically in Sweden by the end of this year, 2020.
Whether the company is a well established engine or truck manufacturer, an automotive company putting their foot in the door of the trucking industry, or a startup with the sole purpose of redefining the 18-wheeler, the electric semi-truck rush has companies from all over the world scrambling to be the first to bring the best electric semi-truck to market.
There is still a lot of ground to cover before electric big rigs hit the market, but once they do, the cost savings compared to diesel engines will be instantly obvious and the company who can best act on the emerging technology will make a lot of money.