Can Tesla’s Electric Semi Stay in the Lead?

In March 2018, two Tesla all-electric semi trucks hit the road for their debut delivery trip. The Tesla electric semi truck prototype has been making its way all over the Midwest. It’s headed back to California at the moment. The technology giant is drawing in a lot of attention from across the country from businesses, investors, and everyone in between—and with good reason.

It has already received orders from large corporations like Walmart. In fact, Walmart was one of the first to place a reservation at the unveiling in November 2017 but Tesla may not maintain its lead in the trucking industry if it doesn’t get busy. Turns out, the competition is rolling right past them in the big-trucking game fast lane.

Tesla’s Electric Semi Competition

Tesla’s competition comes from Freightliner, a division of the multinational German auto and truck corporation, Daimler AG. The automotive giant has already secured contracts with Penske Truck Leasing and NFI Industries to start running two all-electric semi trucks in a pilot program that’s slated to begin later this year.

Daimler AG features two Freightliner Semis:

Freightliner eCascadia is a full, Class 8 heavy-duty, truck with a 730-horsepower drivetrain. It’s powered by a 550-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that can last for about 250 miles. Not to mention, the battery pack can be recharged up to 80 percent capacity (about 200 miles) within 90 minutes.

Freightliner eM2 106 is for local distribution and delivery services, aka “last-mile” duty. It consists of a 325-kWh battery pack that power a 480 horsepower drivetrain. The distance range is up to 230 miles and can be recharged up to 184 miles within about 60 minutes.

Penske and NFI will each receive a test fleet of 30 prototype electric freightliners. The companies plan to evaluate and provide important feedback to the engineers at Daimler AG to allow for the refinement of the semi truck designs. If everything goes well, then the German automaker plans to begin mass production of both trucks in 2021.

Tesla’s Electric Semi

Tesla’s truck can travel as far as 300 or 500 miles. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded. The four independent motors provide solid traction when going up or down inclines. It features a lower center of gravity for protection in the event of a rollover.

It includes autopilot-driving features to help the driver avoid collisions, along with a centered driver position for better visibility and control. However, the truck driver can’t simply sit back and catch up on the latest YouTube videos while the semi cruises along. Drivers must always be alert and ready for anything.

It boasts over $200,000+ in projected fuel savings, and a two-year payback period due to lower maintenance costs, which can seriously put a dent in your wallet. Even when you’re using highly efficient visual inspections tools from a company like SPI Borescopes, the costs can really add up!

All-Electric Vehicles are the Future

Trucking corporations and investors are paying close attention to the development of these trucks. Not only does it present the possibility of cutting fuel costs, but these all-electric semi trucks are environmentally-friendly. Both companies plan to break ground with technological advances with the development of electric trucks, delivery vans, and buses.

Daimler and Tesla were already in direct competition with each other in the luxury vehicle market. Tesla’s Model X SUV and Model S sedan were released to compete against Mercedes-Benz upper-level models. Mercedes plans to release several luxury all-electric vehicles of its own, including the recent debut of its first serious all-electric SUV, the Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla, has said the company is wrapping up the truck’s production design phase. After the final production phase is finished, the company plans to begin production in 2019. It will then start delivering semi trucks to companies with early reservation orders. However, if it doesn’t step on the gas then Tesla might be left in the dust since its competition seems to be right on schedule.