Daimler is trying to beat Tesla Semi to market with its class 8 electric truck, the eCascadia, which they unveiled just a few weeks ago.

Now the truck maker announced that it is planning to deliver a fleet of those new electric trucks to a leasing partner by the end of the year.

Daimler, one of the world’s largest truck makers, has been feeling the pressure from Tesla’s electric truck – going as far as saying that if the claims Tesla is making about its electric semi truck are true, they are breaking the laws of physics.

The German truck manufacturer answered back with the launch of its own electric truck group along with the unveiling of two more electric trucks, including an electric version of their Cascadia to compete with Tesla Semi.

While it competes with the Tesla Semi in size and capacity, it still has a limited range compared to the Tesla Semi: 250 miles vs 500 miles.

They described the truck:

The Freightliner eCascadia is based on the Cascadia, the most successful heavy-duty long-distance truck (class 8) in the North American market. 730 hp is almost silently generated under the characteristically long, U.S.-style hood. At 550 kWh, its batteries provide enough energy for a range of up to 400 km (250 miles), and can be recharged to around 80 percent within 90 minutes to cover a further 320 km (200 miles).

Today, Daimler announced that Penske Truck Leasing and NFI will be amongst the first to use the truck as they have agreed to partner in operating the “Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet”, which will include both the eCascadia (left on the picture above) and the eM2 106 medium-duty (right on the picture above).

It’s not really an outright sale of those trucks as the “Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet” is still part of the development program and Daimler will seek feedback from the customers for the kind of applications the trucks can be used for.

Starting late this year, Daimler says that Penske will begin taking delivery of “10 eCascadias and 10 eM2s for use in California and the Pacific Northwest, while 10 eCascadias will begin being delivered to NFI for drayage activities from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in California’s Inland Empire.”

Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of Daimler Trucks North America, commented on the program:

Freightliner is excited to be working with Penske and NFI on this critical learning process as we further develop and refine our commercial electric vehicle technology. Running multiple trucks in real-world applications will provide better insights for our engineers into the requirements of integrating electric commercial vehicles into fleet operations. We are partnering with these two customers for this phase of the co-creation process because they have use cases that closely fit the target applications we have identified. Both Penske and NFI are forward-thinking partners eager to take on the challenge, effort and investment that will be required during this important development phase.

The actual start of volume production of those electric trucks is planned for 2021.

In the meantime, Daimler wants to use those customer fleets to learn more about its electric trucks and help future customers go electric.

Electrek’s Take

I am glad that competition is heating up in the all-electric truck space and it’s really starting to get interesting.

The fact that they are making an electric version of the Cascadia is particularly interesting in relation to Tesla Semi since the program at Tesla is led by Jerome Guillen who used to lead the Cascadia truck program at Daimler.

Now they clearly couldn’t get close to Tesla Semi specs for a truck that is apparently coming about a year after Tesla Semi.

It leads to even more questions about how Tesla managed to achieve the performance of its electric truck.

Either way, it’s also impressive that even though they are not starting volume production, Daimler is putting significant quantities of those trucks on the road this year.

That’s not something that we can say about the Tesla Semi program just yet.

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