Big trucks go electric as Navistar, Cummins and Daimler rev up next-gen trucks

The electric vehicle revolution is much bigger than electric pickup trucks from Tesla and Ford, as the world’s leading heavy-duty truck and powertrain manufacturers, including Navistar, Daimler, Cummins, Hyundai and Volvo, also have intending to shake up their industry with next generation batteries and hydrogen. -Models with motor that reduce carbon and exhaust pollution.

A stone’s throw from the sprawling ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest cargo container terminals in North America, truck manufacturers, and motor and energy companies filled the Long Beach Convention Center at the Exposition Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) this week to debut, showcase and test has released dozens of electric heavy-duty commercial truck and semi-trailer models, many of which will go into service for the first time at those Southern California ports. Improvements in battery and hydrogen technology, along with new federal support for clean vehicles, set the stage for broader adoption by fleet operators, and rising oil prices only make them that much more attractive.

“Cost parity point (for electric trucks), depending on the application, is much earlier than many think,” says Mathias Carlbaum, president and CEO of Navistar. Forbes. “We see battery technology moving forward, really on the chemistry side, and all the battery capabilities that will be unique and custom-made for us in the future.”

Although Navistar currently offers the battery-powered International eMV truck, with about 135 miles of range per charge, Carlbaum says the company is working on more advanced electric trucks with a range of more than 500 miles per charge with 1-megawatt battery packs. -time they should be ready around 2025. And while Navistar also sees a role for hydrogen fuel cell trucks, particularly for very long-range applications, it is more optimistic than competitors including Daimler, Volvo, Hyundai and the newcomer Nikola, that battery power is the best option. for most heavy duty vehicle applications.

“Cost parity point (for electric trucks), depending on the application, is much sooner than many think”

Mathias Carlbaum, President and CEO of Navistar

In part, that’s because the Volkswagen Group subsidiary will take advantage of technological improvements stemming from VW’s plan to spend $100bn on battery research and development and electric propulsion. As a result, “we believe that 50% of our sales will be electric by 2030,” Carlbaum said. “That’s 50% by 2030 and by 2040 100%.”

Together with Navistar, the world’s leading truck manufacturers and brands, including Daimler Truck, Volvo, Hyundai and Hino, Peterbilt, Kenworth, International and Mack, China’s BYD, engine giant Cummins and electric truck startups, like Proterra, Nikola, Hyzon, Hyliion and Xos. strive to bring zero-emission commercial vehicles into operation with trucking and logistics customers, as well as urban fleets. While the purchase price of battery and hydrogen vehicles exceeds that of diesel, gasoline and natural gas trucks, potentially by tens of thousands of dollars, all companies say the total cost of ownership, including fuel and maintenance, gives them an advantage. . Add in generous incentives, like rebates of up to $120,000 per truck offered by California, and the switch to electric vehicles looks even more compelling.

Tesla was a notable absence from the advanced truck show. Elon Musk said his electric car company would shake up the trucking industry when it introduced the Tesla Semi in 2017, promising a heavy-duty truck that would go 500 miles per charge and hit the market by the end of 2019. The company fell short of that goal and didn’t it has done. t announced a new official date for the release of Semi. Musk said last month during Tesla’s earnings call that it could go into production by 2023 at the new Giga Texas plant in Austin.

Your competitors are not waiting. Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Volvo, BYD and Lion Electric already sell battery-powered semi trucks to US customers, with more models to come. This week, Freightliner, a Daimler brand, introduced a new version of its Cascadia electric truck that goes 230 miles per charge, and last month Nikola began delivering its Tre BEV truck that goes up to 350 miles per charge.

“Across all sectors, fleets are increasingly turning to a spectrum of advanced clean vehicle technologies and low-carbon fuels not only to meet their sustainability goals, but also to improve their fleet’s bottom line,” Erik Neandross , executive director of GNA, the organizer of ACT Expo GNA, said in opening remarks at the start of the week-long event.

GNA’s market trends survey released this week found that heavy-duty electric truck deployments in the US “will go from dozens to hundreds over this year and next, with some sectors already seeing early scale . Demand for BEV fleets is huge and continues to outstrip availability, while vehicle and battery costs remain stubbornly high and the supply chain is still developing.”

Cummins, the largest supplier of heavy-duty diesel engines, said this week it will partner with Daimler on hydrogen fuel cell systems, an electric propulsion system that several competing companies also see as the best long-term option for large trucks. . Freightliner’s Cascadia semi trucks would be modified to use the Cummins powertrain and could reach customers in 2024. Hyundai also said this week that it will trial XCIENT fuel cell trucks at the Port of Oakland. Toyota and Kenworth already operate a test fleet of hydrogen fuel cell trucks at the Port of Los Angeles

“Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising solution for the demanding requirements of heavy-duty trucks,” said Amy Davis, president of Cummins’ New Power unit, in a statement. The partnership with Daimler “is an important milestone for both companies as we work to accelerate the shift to a carbon-free economy.”

Musk, a longtime critic of hydrogen, reiterated his opposition to the fuel in remarks to the Financial Times this week, describing it as “the dumbest thing I could imagine for energy storage.”

Still, the growing interest in hydrogen trucks from companies like Hyundai, Daimler, Volvo, Toyota, Hino, General Motors, Cummins, Bosch, Nikola and Hyzon suggests that Musk’s views are not universally shared.

“Depending on customer application and energy infrastructure considerations, hydrogen-powered vehicles can absolutely complement battery-powered electric vehicles in accelerating our path to carbon neutrality,” said Rakesh Aneja, Vice President and Head of eMobility at Daimler Trucks North America, announcing the Cummins collaboration.

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