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Daimler’s Electric Semi Truck Beats Tesla to Market

The world has been waiting on the release of an electric semi truck for some time now.  Both Tesla and a competitor known as Daimler have been working on one, but delays kept pushing back the release date.  As of Monday, however, that wait may finally be over– the Daimler semi truck has been released. 

Sort of.

Daimler Semi Truck

Daimler Trucks North America owns a semi truck brand named Freightliner, and yesterday it announced that it had built its first two all-electric eCascadia semi trucks as a part of its Electric Innovation Fleet.  This fleet exists as a sort of beta test program, where vehicles are released into a real-world environment to see how they will operate in day-to-day and large scale operations.  The first Freightliner eCascadia trucks will be delivered to Penske Truck Leasing of Reading, Pennsylvania, and NFI of Camden, New Jersey for testing.

The eCascadia is based on Freightliner’s gas-powered Cascadia semi, a popular heavy-duty long-distance truck in the North American market.  Its 550 kWh battery will allow for a range of up to 250 miles (400 km) on a full battery and can receive an 80 percent charge within 90 minutes.  Its 730 horsepower engine will bring more power to the road than the average ICE semi, which ordinarily falls between 400-600 horsepower. 

After the test period is over, Daimler plans on bringing the eCascadia to volume production sometime in 2021.

One of the most important things about the release of the eCascadia is that Daimler has effectively beaten Tesla to the electric semi market.  By putting their trucks into service now, even if they are not at the final production stage, they can put their foot in the door with companies interested in giving electric trucks a try.

Tesla Competitor

Tesla first unveiled the Tesla Semi back in 2017, promising to release it to the market by 2019.  During its first-quarter 2019 earnings call, however, the electric car company revealed that it would be delaying the Semi’s production until late 2020. 

With the lofty goal of manufacturing 100,000 electric trucks per year, Tesla clearly intended for their model to make a big splash in the semi truck market.  During the past two years, Tesla had already begun taking reservations for the Semi, predicting that the production versions will come out with 300-mile and 500-mile range versions for $150,000 and $180,000 respectively. 

But without clear production plans, they may well lose starting momentum thanks to Daimler beating them to the punch.

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