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Get Ready for the All-Electric Long-Haul Truck
Electric vehicles are becoming available in all shapes, sizes and for different purposes, but as of right now, there are no battery-powered semi trucks yet on the market.

Get Ready for the All-Electric Long-Haul Truck

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Some are closer to being finished compared to others, but once they arrive, will they have a big impact on the world of long-haul trucking? Probably not at first, especially if they will have limited range that will make them useless for the longest of long-haul jobs.

But that doesn’t exclude them as potentially viable solutions for shorter journeys and the fact that they don’t produce any tailpipe emissions could render them more useful for jobs centered more around urban areas. They could potentially take their load all the way to a destination that is located in an area of a town that would otherwise have been off-limits for a conventional diesel-burning rig.

The Freightliner eCascadia is one pure-EV semi truck that is already here. It’s not a ground-up new model designed with electrification in mind, but rather an electrified version of the diesel-powered Cascadia. It has a range of 400 km or 250 miles that comes courtesy of a big 550 kWh battery pack, and a peak power rating of 730 horsepower.

It will beat other similar electric trucks to the market since 30 examples will be handed over to 30 select customers in the U.S. by the end of this year. If all goes well with this test fleet, the eCascadia will become commercially available sometime in 2020.

Nikola is a new manufacturer specifically created to make electric vehicles (including trucks). It has several models in the works, the bold looking Nikola One and Nikola Two, but there’s actually a third more conventional-looking truck that’s ready to reach customers - Nikola Tre (which bears no direct link to the Tre concept).

Just like the eCascadia, it’s an existing truck that has been converted to run on electricity. It’s based on the Iveco S-Way and it was jointly created by Nikola and Italdesign. From a visual standpoint, the result looks like a current truck that’s been given a makeover to be featured in some sort of movie set in the near future - but it certainly looks cool and by no means like your average Iveco.

The vehicle shown at the unveiling has a range of 400 km or 250 miles, courtesy of a modular battery pack up to 720 kWh. Power is rated at 652 horsepower and torque at 1,800 Nm (1,327 pound-feet), but the official site claims it can have over 1,000 horsepower and 2,700 Nm (1,991 pound-feet) and a range of up to 1,200 km. It’s set to reach its first customers in 2021.

Another such truck that’s on its way is the Tesla Semi, a futuristic-looking rig that its makers call “the safest, most comfortable truck ever“ and it’s probably also one of the quickest. Its design is probably what draws the most attention, because it looks sleek and streamlined compared to most modern trucks, and its interior is equally cool and futuristic - it even has a central driving position and two massive screens flanking the steering wheel.

But while it may look really cool, it’s actually what it can do that is most impressive. Tesla says it has four independent electric motors powering the rear wheels that give it really strong acceleration - you may have seen those videos captured by people who randomly spotted the Semi testing in traffic and how quickly it was able to speed away.

According to the manufacturer, the Semi will have a range of up to 800 km or 500 miles on a single charge, it will sprint from naught to sixty in 20 seconds while carrying an 80,000-pound load and it will be able to maintain a constant 96 km/h or 60 mph up a 5 percent incline. Another big claim is that this truck will provide savings of up to $200,000 per year compared to a regular diesel truck. The goal is to put it into production by the end of 2020.

All of the above are concrete models that have a clear launch date, but other manufacturers have also announced their interest in entering the electric semi segment. Ford, for instance showed off the stunning F-Vision concept in late 2018, but the manufacturer didn’t provide any technical information or specs - probably because it’s just a concept and nothing more.

Volvo has gone even more crazy with its Vera concept that completely does away with the cab where a driver would usually sit - it uses Nvidia driverless vehicle tech. It looks like an oversized skateboard with a trailer hitch, but it could show the way forward for trucking - there’s a chance trucks might become the first types of vehicles to gain fully autonomous driving functions and the Vera concept previews what a driverless (all-electric) truck might look like.


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