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Daimler Trucks Official Dismisses the Tesla Semi, Isn't Worried About It

History does have a way of repeating itself. When Tesla first broke out on the market, traditional carmakers were all quick to predict its quick demise. A few years later, though, and Tesla is the leader in the EV segment, it's ready to push out its first mass-market product and has everyone else playing catch up.
Freightliner Cascadia 1 photo
And they are trying to catch up. Mercedes-Benz, Daimler's main passenger car brand, is one of the pack members leading the pursuit. The Stuttgart company is readying its first true electric vehicle, a battery-powered SUV based on the Generation EQ Concept shown last year, and has plans for an entire range of models that will follow.

Daimler's electric ambitions, however, are not restricted to passenger cars. In fact, with over 60,000 kilometers (about 37,000 miles) of testing already under its belt, you could say the eCanter light-duty electric truck is ahead of its non-commercial counterparts, which are yet to be spotted road-testing.

But light-duty trucks are a completely different proposition than the heavy-duty long-distance hauling that Tesla has in plan for its Semi. In the U.S., Daimler only has the Cascadia in this segment, which also happens to be a sales leader - precisely the position Musk wants for its Semi when it eventually comes online.

Talking to Business Insider, Marc Llistosella, Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, acknowledged that Daimler has everything to lose: "In class 8, with Freightliner, we are the number one in America, so we have something to defend," he said, but with no direct connection to Tesla's electric truck.

He did touch on the subject, though, and it wasn't to encourage Elon Musk in his enterprise: "In trucks, of course [Elon Musk's] stepping into it, but we don't see him as someone who is threatening us because you need a whole infrastructure," he pointed out. "You need dealerships, you need infrastructure, you need maintenance."

As somebody who has started a successful car company literally from scratch, it's hard to imagine Elon Musk isn't aware of all these things. Besides, even if trucking is indeed a different sector from that of the passenger cars, you can imagine Tesla has hired a lot of people who know everything there is to about the subject. In fact, the Semi development is led by Jerome Guillen, a former Daimler executive who even headed the Cascadia project.

Even though the CEO has announced an unveiling event for the Tesla Semi this September, expect it to replicate the Model 3 recipe where the car was shown in March 2016, and actual deliveries are scheduled to start near the end of 2017. The Semi will likely take at least two years, which is enough time to put in place any kind of infrastructure needed. Don't be fooled by Daimler's cockiness: they are keeping a very watchful eye on the Tesla Semi.

 
 
 
 
 

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