Daimler AG launches first U.S. commercial battery powered truck

The game has started,” – Mark Llistosella, Daimler Trucks’ Asia chief.

In what is slated to be another milestone in the transportation industry, Daimler AG stated that its new battery powered eCanter truck will be commercially used by United Parcel Service Inc, its first U.S. commercial customer for its battery-powered eCanter truck.

Daimler has stated it will expand its electric truck offerings which will feature long-range batteries within two to three years.

Although the market for electric medium and heavy trucks is still in its infancy, automakers, including Tesla, Daimler, Navistar International Corp, and others are racing to overcome challenges and better compete with their gas guzzling diesel engine peers, as regulators crack down on pollution and emission norms.

“The game has started,” said Mark Llistosella, Daimler Trucks’ Asia chief.

Although its current offering, Fuso eCanter, is a relatively small delivery truck, more suited for urban delivery, Llistosella said larger, Class 7 electric trucks are in the company’s pipelines, with Daimler set to showcase them at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show.

On Thursday, during a news conference, Daimler said while UPS has leased three eCanter trucks, four NY-based NGOs have placed orders for a total of eight eCanter trucks which have a mile range of about 62 miles (100 kms) on a single charge.

UPS is leasing the trucks from Daimler since it expects a technological change to occur within the next two years.

“we know there will be a next level of technology” that will produce batteries with longer range, lower cost and lower weight, said Daimler.

Whereas battery costs are currently in the $180 to $200 range for every kilowatt-hour, they are slated to drop to $100 a kilowatt-hour, said Llistosella. “This is the main lever” to move electric commercial trucks to higher sales volumes.

In anticipation of improved batteries, Daimler is limiting the sales of the eCanter to about 500 vehicles for the first two years of production, despite “The market demand [being] much higher.”

The company’s Mitsubishi Fuso unit has begun building eCanter trucks at factories in Japan and Portugal earlier this year.

On Wednesday, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO had tweeted that Tesla would showcase its prototype of an electric semi-trailer truck on October 26 in Hawthorne, California.

“Worth seeing this beast in person,” tweeted Musk. “It’s unreal.”

Tesla’s trucks is expected to have a mile range of 200 to 300 per single charge.

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