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Tesla And Nikola Have Company In The Truck Market

Image via Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

As the automotive industry transitions from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles, Tesla and Nikola are seemingly the two companies most frequently mentioned in the news and synonymous with electric vehicles.

Tesla has grown to be not only the world's largest automobile manufacturer by market capitalization, but one of the largest companies in the world. The last few weeks have seen both companies in the news—Tesla with its stock split and meteoric stock rise and Nikola for teaming up with General Motors and then immediately facing allegations of fraud.

With most people's attention focused on Tesla and Nikola, three trucking giants all announced within the last few days how they plan to transition to more environmentally friendly next-generation trucks and remain competitive.

Mack Trucks, which is a subsidiary of the Volvo Group, announced Wednesday that its zero-emissions refuse truck, the Mack LR Electric, will be available to order in the fourth quarter with deliveries beginning in 2021. The truck features Mack’s fully integrated electric powertrain with twin electric motors and four NMC lithium-ion batteries for vehicle propulsion.

"Mack's leadership in the refuse segment goes back more than a century, and we're pleased to build on that heritage today by announcing the commercialization of the LR Electric model," Mack Trucks president Martin Weissburg said. "The LR Electric is paving the way toward widespread acceptance of zero-emissions refuse trucks."

Swedish trucking giant Scania, a brand of Traton which itself is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, announced Tuesday its first fully electric truck. The truck, which is going by the name "the battery electric truck," has a range of up to 250 km with the option of either five or nine batteries. Scania says the truck "can operate during the whole day and still return safely to its home depot for overnight charging."

"Sustainable emission-free transport is an increasing requirement for transport companies," Scania Director of New Technologies Anders Lampinen said. "Acquiring an electric truck is not just an investment in the customer’s fleet, but also in its brand and market. The electric truck enables the customer to stay ahead of the competition, learn about infrastructural challenges and start adapting for the future."

Finally, Daimler Trucks unveiled Wednesday a pair of concept trucks as part of its "strategy for electrification." The event saw the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, a fuel-cell truck with a 1,000 kilometer range built for flexible and demanding long-haul transport. The truck will begin customer trials in 2023 with production scheduled for the second half of this decade.

Daimler also unveiled the battery-powered Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul, which is intended for short- and medium-range routes with a range of about 500 kilometers. The company also unveiled a shorter-range version, the eActros, which has a range of more than 200 kilometers and is designed for heavy urban distribution. Production of the eActros LongHaul and eActros is scheduled to begin in 2024 and 2021, respectively.

"We are consistently pursuing our vision of CO2-neutral transport with a focus on the genuinely locally CO2-neutral technologies battery power and hydrogen-based fuel cells, which have the potential to succeed in the market in the long term," Daimler Truck chairman of the board Martin Daum said.

While Tesla and Nikola get all of the attention, their rivals in the trucking industry are showing they're hard at work building trucks that can compete with the Tesla Semi or Nikola One and Nikola Two.

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