Electric HGVs and the Big Announcement From Tesla

By: Bob Dass

Last year we saw some big news in terms of the HGV world. We saw the news of the new electric post vans, and there was an announcement of an electric HGV launch from Tesla – a company that has already got a proven track record for making electric cars. Tesla is well-known for offering cutting edge technology and high-end vehicles, so them offering HGVs is big news.  There is no better time to re-train as an HGV driver and be part of these exciting changes. Electric HGVs are something that people have been waiting for eagerly for a very long time, and as the diesel ban draws ever closer, we could well see electric HGVs change the world of automotive as we know it.

The Announcement of Tesla Electric Truck

In late August 2017, Tesla confirmed that they would be releasing a new, all-electric trug. This will have a real-world mileage performance of 200-300 miles upon launch, with the prospect of later models offering as much as 1000 miles per charge. Initially, they will be made in Fremont, California, and there will be a ‘day cab’ without a sleeper section. As the longer distance models are developed then the design will be refined. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, revealed some early images of the all-electric truck, with a glowing EV-lorry dominating the image with its LED lights. This was the first confirmation from Musk that the HGV would be coming, and it showed clearly that Tesla is looking to break into the commercial market with this particular design. The image is of an HGV that is curved and stylish – but the design isn’t just for style – it’s also for aerodynamics. The sleek lines offer increased energy efficiency, and he hopes that it will be a ‘spy’ to drive. The quoted 0-62mph times are impressive, but seem hard to believe until we see it in action. The intent is to offer the range and torque of a traditional unit, but with the range that is seen on traditional vehicles too. That’s ambitious, and if they pull it off it will be a huge breakthrough for HGVs.

Late to the Party?

Sadly, Tesla’s big reveal could be overshadowed by a big release from a less well-known company in the electric vehicle space. Cummins is a leading maker of heavy-duty natural gas and diesel engines that are focused on the commercial space, and they are working on an HGV too. In fact, theirs has already been unveiled and there are plans for wider sales coming soon. Their class 7 heavy-duty truck cab was unveiled on the 29th August 2017, and it is something that is going to be hard to compete with. It features an advanced 140kWh battery pack. There are plans for bus and commercial fleet sales in 2019, which is not far off! The cab weighs 18,000lbs and has been dubbed AEOS after the 4 winged horses that drive the chariot of Helios. It is only available as a demonstration model right now, but it is fully operational and has been shown to have the power to haul 22-tonne trailers easily.

The Cummins model offers a 100-mile range, and while this is not as good as Tesla’s it is still impressive for the target audience, which is urban delivery vehicles. It takes just one hour to charge, and the hope is that future generations will have a charge time of just 20 minutes. Manufacturing will begin in 2019, so commercially available vehicles will be on offer within 18 months. We can expect to see some good electric HGVs, but the first generation is likely to have some teething problems. Once they have the best range, we can expect to see them in use by commercial haulage companies, saving money on diesel HGVs in the long run.

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