The progress is happening at a “greater speed than expected,” said Roger Nielsen, president, and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America. Nielsen went on to predict that Daimler would have the “highest number” of electric semi and other vehicles in the commercial vehicle segment in 2020.
Electric Semi Battery Life is the Key
It seems to be that Daimler and Tesla are leading the way when it comes to the development of the electric semi. There have been rumors that Tesla is experiencing some delays in production which might push back the rollout of their electric Semi. While speed to the marketplace is important, it’s the company that gets the battery life right that will ultimately win. Simply put, the electric truck batteries must be long-lasting and reliable for widespread adoption to take place.
What About Familiarity?
Another key piece in widespread adoption with electric trucks is familiarity. Not only for the drivers but for the companies as well. While there will most certainly be a learning curve going from diesel to electric, what about the layout of the truck? It appears Daimler will be able to roll out an electric truck within it’s Freightliner Cascadia brand which will no doubt make many truckers and companies feel more comfortable about taking the leap into electric. Meanwhile, a company like Tesla may struggle a bit more with the learning curve of both electric powered trucks and a completely new layout.
The Race is ON!
It was reported that Daimler met with about 30 customers who were able to test drive electric trucks and that several will be taking delivery of their own electric models for further testing “within days.” Nielsen said that there’s still a lot of progress that needs to take place and that the initial business case remains far more likely for smaller vehicles. Additionally, there are still many questions that need to be addressed regarding charing of batters, residual values and more. So while the race is on, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many factors that will determine just how successful electric trucks will be in the transportation industry.
Don’t Forget the Maintenance
While the industry and media are full of speculation at this point on which company will gain market share the fastest, very few seem to be talking about the maintenance aspect of these trucks. While some things will certainly change as the technology evolves, many things will stay the same. Tires, lights, fluids, etc. will all still need to be maintained to make sure things are running smoothly. And, of course, the new batteries will need to be monitored regularly throughout their lifespan.
At Dickinson Fleet Services, we are committed to following this type of technology and providing the necessary training to our technicians. Times are definitely changing and we’ve always taken great pride in staying ahead of the curve. As adoption of things such as electric trucks becomes more widespread, we will do our best to educate our customers on the pros and cons from a maintenance/performance standpoint.
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*Photo of electric Freightliner from Daimler.com