There’s currently a race to bring electric trucks to market and change the economics in the trucking industry while removing its reliance on fossil fuels. Tesla has the most aggressive plan to electrify the market with the Tesla Semi, but Daimler Trucks, one of the largest incumbents, is not worried about it.

The CEO throws some cold water on Tesla’s electric truck project and says that Daimler will come out on top.

Daimler, which owns commercial truck brands like Mercedes-Benz Trucks and Freightliner, has several electric truck efforts of its own.

Most of them don’t aim to compete with Tesla Semi, which is a full capacity class 8 truck, but they still have something in the same segment: the eCascadia, an all-electric version of their flagship truck.

The manufacturer is already delivering a few units to some early customers and it plans to bring it to volume production in 2021 – a year or two after Tesla Semi.

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, made some interesting comments about the effort when speaking at American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition last week (via Fleet Owner):

In response to a question about a possible delay of deliveries of Tesla’s electric Semi to 2020, Nielsen said it was not just a race to market. “The best battery solution is going to win,” he said of the electric truck market. “It’s all about energy consumption.”

Daimler has never released energy consumption figures for the eCascadia, but in terms of overall range, it is significantly falling behind the Tesla Semi: 250 miles vs 500 miles on a single charge.

Discounting Tesla Semi range claims

But the German vehicle manufacturer previously expressed doubts about Tesla’s ability to deliver on the range. The company previously said that if the claims Tesla is making about its electric semi truck are true, they are “breaking the laws of physics”.

During the meeting, the executive also threw some cold water on Tesla’s opportunities in the market.

He said that after meeting with customers interested in electric trucks, he determined that they prefer to stay with vehicles they know and it’s why they will choose the eCascadia, an electric version of the diesel-powered Cascadia, over a new Tesla Semi.

He said:

“It helps create a smooth transition from a diesel-powered truck to an electric-powered truck,”

Nielsen insists that Daimler will end up with more commercial electric vehicles than Tesla in 2020.

Electrek’s Take

While I understand Daimler’s doubts, I think Tesla is going to deliver on that range.

Furthermore, I think they are grossly mistaken if they think that the fact the market is familiar with their existing trucks is going to stop customers from switching to Tesla Semi.

At the end of the day, logistics is all about the economics and if Tesla can deliver on what they are promising, fleet managers will undoubtedly have to incorporate the electric truck in their fleet in order to be competitive.

Also, it could be argued that the reason why Tesla is able to deliver a greater range than Daimler with the eCascadia is that they are designing the truck from the ground up to be electric instead of converting a platform designed for diesel.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below

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