Electric Semi Truck Overview

Electric Semi Truck Overview

electric-semi-trucks-overview

Digging into Electric Semi Truck Specifications

 

There is a charge in the air, in particular with regards to the trucking industry.  There has been a tremendous amount of interest in electric semi trucks to replace the diesel versions.  There are newcomers and veteran companies starting to battle for the top electrification option.

 

Just like electric cars, not every electric truck has the same type of electrification.  Though the majority of electric semi trucks are battery electric vehicles, there are a couple hybrids in the mix.  In the list of trucks, there is a fuel cell electric vehicle powered by liquefied hydrogen and an extended range electric truck that uses a generator to provide longer ranges for good distance hauling.

 

There has been a lot of press with the release of the Tesla Semi Truck and even for a couple months afterward.  Now that the excitement of the release has faded a little bit I want to take a broader look at all of the electric semi trucks, both current and future concepts.  I will compare the specs for all of these electric semi trucks and go over the different types of electric powertrains.

 

All of the electric semi trucks will be compared to diesel semi trucks.  The main focus of these trucks is to make an industry shift toward electrification of company fleets.  Most of these companies do not even view each other as competitors since the ground that will be taken in the market will not be from them but rather from a diesel semi manufacturer.

 

Electric Semi Trucks

 

There seems to be a favorable spotlight on the Tesla Semi Truck over all other options available to trucking companies and individual truck operators.

 

Tesla Semi Truck

 

Photo Credit: Tesla.com   

 

The Tesla Semi has been created from the ground up as the first semi from Tesla.  This is the first electric vehicle they have produced that is aimed at the transportation industry.  In particular, it is the first time Tesla has created an electric vehicle for a commercial fleet instead of the automotive consumer.

 

There are features that Elon Musk had boasted about when he revealed it to the public which are: fast acceleration, low drag coefficient, and an ease of drive.  All these features are compared to a diesel semi truck.

 

Some of the interesting design features are the overall shape of the cabin, which more resembles a bullet profile,  along with a flat undercarriage.  This is part of the reason to have great aerodynamics on this semi truck, though there is one bit that ensures great airflow, and that is the automatically adjusting side flaps between the truck and trailer once connected.  This feature is reported to increase the aerodynamics by reducing the drag coefficient.  The aerodynamic drag on a diesel semi truck is very high as there are pockets of turbulence instead of a steady air flow.  The rear wheels are also covered to provide additional uniform air flow along the side of the truck and trailer.

 

There appear to be two versions of the Tesla Semi that are available: one with a sleeper with a 500-mile driving range, and one without a sleeper with a 300-mile driving range.  As Elon Musk has identified during the reveal, these driving range estimates are all at highway speeds and with the eighty thousand pound capacity, which is the maximum allowable highway limit.  

 

Just like the Tesla Model X, the Semi has doors that are a flashback to a different era.  While the Model X falcon doors are similar to the gullwing doors of the 1980s, the Semi has suicide doors which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

 

If you are familiar with the other electric cars in the Tesla lineup, you will not be surprised with the all-around vehicle sensors.  The Tesla Semi with a 500-mile range removes the physical side mirrors, which are replaced with side facing cameras that show the typical mirror image on an interior monitor for each side.

 

One of the main benefits that Tesla is claiming is the cost saving for refueling the truck.  They estimate that energy costs will be half that of their diesel counterparts, at over $200,000 of savings.  This is also combined with less maintenance on fewer systems.  An estimated 2 years will be the payoff period for the Tesla Semi.

 

Check out the Tesla Truck Reveal Video below.

Video Credit: Tesla.com   

 

 

Tesla Semi Specs

 

Cab Seating Single Centered Driver Position
Vehicle Towing Capacity 80,000 pounds
Acceleration Unloaded (0 – 60 mph) 5 seconds
*Acceleration Maximum Capacity (0 – 60 mph) 20 seconds
Energy Consumption <2 kWh / mile
*Speed at a 5% Grade 65 miles per hour
**Driving Range 300 miles and 500 miles
Powertrain 4 Independent Electric Motors on Rear Axles
Transmission Single Gear
Electric Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Base Price (300 mile) $150,000 US
Base Price (500 mile) $180,000 US

*With a maximum payload of 80,000 lbs.

**At highway speed of 60mph and payload of 80,000 lbs.

Back to Electric Semi Truck List

 


 

Nikola One & Two

Photo Credit: Nikola Motor

 

Nikola Motors have been developing electric trucks and Motorsport vehicles for some time now, but without the limelight that Tesla has been given.  Even Trevor Milton, the founder, and CEO of Nikola has been asked if they see themselves as a direct competitor to Tesla, especially with the release of the Tesla Semi. The short answer that he gave was no.  He sees Nikola as a pioneer which they have built off of and are developing further.

 

Nikola might not be as well known to consumers right now, but their customers, primarily trucking companies, are taking notice.  They have recently signed an agreement with Ryder in North America to provide both the sales and service support at all of their 800 locations in continental United States, Canada, and Mexico.  This catapults them into the industry and ensures that their trucks will be available at a location near you and your business.  To a greater point, it ensures that no matter where your truck fleet is, they will be close to another qualified service station in case of an issue.  This is something that is incredibly important since we live in a just in time delivery schedule that could cost millions by the hour when a single truck is down, which in turn shuts down an assembly line.

 

A major change from Tesla Semi is that Nikola is a fuel cell electric vehicle using hydrogen fuel.  To go with this, Nikola is creating hydrogen fueling stations all around North America.  There are two methods by which they are planning to generate the hydrogen liquid: first through electrolysis powered by a solar farm, and the second is by steam reform.  If you are not familiar with liquid hydrogen, in a fuel cell this is a zero-emission process with the only byproduct being water.

 

This begs the question: how expensive will filling up be at these hydrogen charging stations?  There is a million miles worth of hydrogen included with the Nikola One and the cost to refuel is already built into the purchase price.  However, the hydrogen refueling stations will cost non-Nikola vehicles to use this service.  They plan to have 364 hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada, with construction starting in 2018 and first operation near the end of 2019.

 

This hydrogen station network creation would be similar to Tesla’s Supercharger network which was built out across Canada and the U.S.  Once completed they will own all touch points for their semi trucks, from manufacturing, sales/service, fuel generation, to fuel delivery.

 

The Nikola One is the sleeper cab, while Nikola Two is the day cab.  The Nikola Two truck has rear wheel steering built-in for tight maneuvering.  Both semi trucks have panoramic front windshields, collision avoidance systems, and are estimated to have 1,200 miles between fill-ups.

 

The onboard computer is accessed through the 21-inch screen to the right of the truck operator.  Typically a truck operator will rely on dispatch to tell them where their next freight pickup and drop-offs are located.  The Nikola One has the technology to remove the need for dispatch using Nikola Shipments which are already integrated.  Shipments allow easy communication between truckers and shippers to facilitate the movement of their goods.  A route can be agreed upon based on the Shipments software that identifies the time of delivery, the different routes available, and costs involved.  Once this technology is fully rolled out, it will empower the independent truck operator with the ability to earn up to an estimated 50 percent more.

 

Due to the weight savings of the hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain, there are two thousand pounds freed up compared to their diesel counterparts.  With this weight reduction, extra freight can be loaded to the trailer with an estimated $25,000 per month of increased revenue based on $0.50 per pound

 

The Nikola One semi truck, being a fuel cell electric vehicle, doesn’t need to have lithium batteries onboard.  The One has a battery pack with a capacity of 320 kWh as a buffer as well as storage for the regenerative braking.   With braking in mind, the Nikola One is estimated to have a stopping range of six feet once brakes are activated due to an electric motor response time of thirty milliseconds.

 

Check out the Nikola One reveal below.

Video Credit: Nikola Motor

 

 

Nikola One / Two Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity 65,000 pounds
Acceleration Unloaded (0 – 60 mph) TBD
*Acceleration Maximum Capacity (0 – 60 mph) 30 seconds
Energy Consumption 1.7 kWh / mile
Fuel Economy Equivalent 15.4 miles per gallon
Speed at 5% Grade 65 miles per hour
*Stopping Distance (Full Load) 230 feet
Driving Range 1,200 miles
Powertrain 2 Independent Electric Motors on Front Wheels

4 Independent Electric Motors on Rear Wheels

Motor Type (Combined) 800V AC Motors
Motor Power (Combined) 1,000 horsepower
Motor Torque (Combined) 2,000 foot-pounds
Battery Capacity 320 kWh Lithium Ion
Transmission Automated Two-Speed Integrated on each Electric Motor
Electric Vehicle Type Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV)
Suspension Independent Front and Rear
Estimated Vehicle Weight – Nikola One (Sleeper Cab) 21,000 pounds
Estimated Vehicle Weight – Nikola Two (Day Cab) 18,000 pounds
Base Price (300 mile) $150,000 US
Base Price (500 mile) $180,000 US

*With a maximum payload of 80,000 lbs.

**At highway speed of 60mph and payload of 80,000 lbs.

Back to Electric Semi Truck List

 


 

Thor ET-One

Photo Credit: Thor Trucks

 

The Thor Electric Truck, or ET-One, is built off a diesel semi truck.  The first semi electric truck from Thor was created by a diesel to electric conversion.  The Thor ET-One is built on the Navistar chassis and uses Dana axles, both are highly regarded and established in the transportation industry.  

 

The Thor ET-One is a day, short haul, semi truck intended for local routes.  Unlike the Tesla and Nikola semi trucks, there is no option to have a sleeper option for longer hauls.  There are, however; two different options: the 100-mile and 300-mile driving range versions.  

 

The Thor ET-One has a single electric motor that is mounted between the frame rails behind the truck cab.  The ET-One has regenerative braking along with vehicle detection monitoring.  The interior of the cab has been reimagined with a large display and comfortable seating to be driver-focused.

 

Thor Trucks, compared to diesel semi trucks, provide cost savings.  In particular, the advantages over diesel will be 70 percent savings on fuel costs, and 60 percent savings on maintenance costs per mile.

 

Components in the Thor ET-One are well established within the trucking industry with defined maintenance cycles.  They are not as flashy as the Tesla or Nikola semi trucks, though this can be a conservative approach to an electric semi truck.  This is the strategy that Thor ET-One has with their battery electric semi truck.

 

Here is the Thor ET-One video below.

 

Video Credit: Thor Trucks

 

Bloomberg has recorded a video pitting the Thor Semi against the Tesla Semi as shown below.

Video Credit: Thor Trucks

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Thor Trucks

 

Thor ET-One Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity 80,000 pounds
Acceleration Unloaded (0 – 60 mph) TBD
*Acceleration Maximum Capacity (0 – 60 mph) TBD
Energy Consumption TBD
Fuel Economy Equivalent TBD
Top Speed 70 miles per hour
*Stopping Distance (Full Load) TBD
Driving Range 300 miles
Powertrain 2 Independent Electric Motors on Front Wheels

4 Independent Electric Motors on Rear Wheels

Motor Type (Combined) 800V AC Motors
Motor Power (100-mile) 300 horsepower
Motor Power (300-mile) 700 horsepower
Motor Torque (Combined) 2,000
Battery Capacity 320 kWh Lithium Ion
Transmission Automated Two-Speed Integrated on each Electric Motor
Electric Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Suspension Independent Front and Rear
Estimated Vehicle Weight – (300 mile) 21,000 pounds
Estimated Vehicle Weight – (100 mile) 18,000 pounds
Base Price (100 mile) $150,000 US
Base Price (300 mile) $250,000 US

 

*With a maximum payload of 80,000 lbs.

**At highway speed of 60mph and payload of 80,000 lbs.

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BYD T9 Electric Truck

 

Photo Credit: BYD

 

BYD is the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer for consumer electric and commercial/industrial vehicles.  They are a global leader and innovator in battery technology and one of the largest battery manufacturers in the world.  Their products include taxi fleet vehicles, transit buses, forklifts, trucks, and energy storage systems.

 

BYD offers a complete fleet of electric truck options ranging from a terminal truck, T5 Class 5, T7 Class 6, and finally T9 Class 8.

 

The BYD T9 is a class 8 electric semi truck with a cab over motor design.  When looking at the BYD T9 semi truck you might not notice that it is electric.  While some other brands have tried to distance themselves from diesel semis, BYD has integrated the electric aspects into the design to not draw attention.

 

The T9 features two electric motors transversely mounted on the drive axle.

 

BYD T9 Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity 96,000 pounds
Top Speed 56 miles per hour
Driving Range 92 miles
Powertrain 2 Electric Motors on Drive Axle
Motor Type AC Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motors
Motor Power (Combined) 482 horsepower
Motor Torque (Combined) 2,212 foot-pounds
Battery Capacity 188 kWh Lithium-Iron-Phosphate
Electric Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Suspension Leaf Spring
Estimated Vehicle Weight 23,589 pounds
Base Price TBD

 

Back to Electric Semi Truck List

 


 

MAN eTruck

Photo Credit: MAN Truck

 

MAN is a division of Volkswagen, and has a full fleet of diesel semi trucks, though they have an electric truck in the works for inner city distribution.  The eTruck is designed to have the same payload as the similar internal combustion engines though emission free.  

 

Similar to the BYD electric truck, the MAN eTruck is also a cab over the motor, in this case, cab over battery pack.  The auxiliary components are electrically operated, which includes the power steering, air compressors, and air-conditioning systems.

 

An interesting feature of the eTruck is the option to add more batteries to the side frames for greater range.

 

Video Credit: MAN Truck

 

 

Photo Credit: MAN Truck

 

MAN eTruck Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity TBD
Driving Range 200 kilometers
Powertrain Electric Motor on Single-Axle or Two-Axle
Motor Power (Combined) 250 kW
Motor Torque (Combined) TBD
Battery Capacity TBD
Electric Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Suspension TBD
Estimated Vehicle Weight TBD
Base Price TBD

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Daimler E-FUSO Vision One Truck

Photo Credit: Daimler

 

Mitsubishi FUSO truck and bus corporation is a part of Daimler trucks and is expanding their trucks into electric powertrains.  The E-FUSO Vision One was the first OEM brand to launch a product brand dedicated to electric trucks and buses.  The Vision One is a concept semi truck just like a lot of the other electric trucks soon to hit the market.  One of the major differences is the apparent intention of the E-FUSO brand to leapfrog off the Vision One into the remaining classes of hauling trucks as well as buses.

 

E-FUSO does admit that the electrification of the trucking industry will take some time and the first step is for the Vision One in the distribution within a given regional city area.  The E-FUSO Vision One is a heavy duty semi truck that has a cab over motor design though without a sleeper.  

 

There are three markets that Daimler and Mitsubishi are focusing on initially: US, Japan, and Europe.  These are large markets that are full of competition, though could be the first, if not one of the first electric trucks in service.

 

Photo Credit: Daimler

 

Daimler E-FUSO Vision One Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity 51,500 pounds
Top Speed TBD
Driving Range 350 miles
Powertrain TBD
Motor Type TBD
Motor Power (Combined) TBD
Motor Torque (Combined) TBD
Battery Capacity 300 kWh
Electric Vehicle Type Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV)
Suspension TBD
Estimated Vehicle Weight 24,600 pounds
Base Price TBD

 

Back to Electric Semi Truck List

 


 

Cummins AEOS Truck

Photo Credit: Business Wire

 

Cummins is a large engine and generator manufacturer in the industrial, light, and heavy truck industries.  It may have been a surprise that Cummins announced the AEOS concept electric truck.  The AEOS is a class 7 designed to be an urban hauler electric truck.  

 

What sets the Cummins AEOS apart from the rest of the pack is the hybrid powertrain.  It has a battery power pack and it also has an engine/generator combination as a range extender.  It is expected that the Cummins B4.5 or the B6.5 diesel engines will be used to run the generator to recharge the battery when needed.

 

These diesel engines are stage V that meet the certification level with strict controls on emissions to the point of stating zero emissions.  The AEOS is expected to have a fuel saving compared to other diesel hybrids.  

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about the specifications for the Cummins AEOS class 7 truck.

 

Photo Credit: Business Wire

 

Cummins AEOS Specs

 

Cab Seating Driver and Passenger Seating Positions
Vehicle Payload Capacity Estimated 26,000 to 33,000 pounds
Top Speed TBD
Driving Range TBD
Powertrain Electric Motor with Diesel Generator
Motor Type TBD
Motor Power (Combined) TBD
Motor Torque (Combined) TBD
Battery Capacity TBD
Electric Vehicle Type Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV)
Suspension TBD
Estimated Vehicle Weight TBD
Base Price TBD

Back to Electric Semi Truck List

 

Electric semi trucks are very much in their infancy phase which makes the market for electric trucks ripe for the picking.  It doesn’t mean that the first to market will get the largest share in the market.  It might not even be the largest companies that push the most capital at marketing exposure.

 

There is a lot of focus on improving the working life of the independent truck driver along with providing a clean alternative to diesel fuel.  This focus on the truck driver’s experience appears to be the “it” factor that will send one of the listed brands to the top.  If these electric trucks provide the cost savings and remove the inefficiencies out of their drive then it will be an easy decision.  Even after these cost savings are proven and widely accepted, the adoption of electric semi trucks may be slow for individual owners until they are in the market for a new truck.  An extra way to help the truck driver is an onboard scale gauge, and for a long distance trucker, a premium truck mattress can make all the difference in the world.

 

Larger trucking companies could make the transition quicker by replacing a percentage of their fleet over to electric every year.  It is not likely that a large company will switch their fleet in one fell swoop, as the cost to do so would be high.

 

Whether it happens in the next year or the next ten years, there is a change coming to the transportation industry.  As you can see with all these companies battling for superiority, this is not a fade, but a shift in the market.  

 

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