U.S. manufacturer beats Tesla to stage with electric semi-truck

Although Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased plans to unveil a new electric semi-truck next month, another major manufacturer has beaten him to the stage.

Cummins, the Indiana-based maker of diesel and natural gas engines, revealed an all-electric demonstration truck on Tuesday powered by lithium-ion batteries. The company announced it would manufacture and begin selling the 140 kilowatt hour battery packs to bus operators and commercial truck fleets in 2019.

The concept Urban Hauler Tractor – known as Aeos, after a mythological Greek horse – carries a range of 100 miles on a single charge, with optional batteries extending range to 300 miles. The battery pack charges in an hour. The hauler is designed for short local routes, with a maximum payload of 44,000 pounds, the company said.

Cummins produces a range of diesel engines for light and heavy-duty trucks, as well as natural gas engines and related equipment. It also introduced an array of new, more efficient diesel engines.

Musk said Tesla would unveil its semi-truck in September. The company expects to lower the cost of trucking, while bringing autonomous features into truck fleets.

Tesla has asked Nevada to test a platoon of semi trucks, with one lead vehicle automatically followed by other trucks. The EV maker and renewable energy company also plans to triple the size of its fast-charging network, adding connections and new stations around the world. Musk said the company is eyeing an expansion in Mexico and Canada, routes that could benefit truckers supporting the flow of goods through North American borders.

California is also trying to encourage more low- and zero-emission vehicles for commercial transport. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have set clean air goals to eliminate diesel equipment by 2035.

State lawmakers are also urging the use of more cap-and-trade proceeds to subsidize the purchase of clean buses and trucks. Supporters have rallied for a share of the expect $1.4 billion available next year for clean energy projects.

Photo: The Aeos Electric Commercial Vehicle, a concept semi-truck built by Cummins. The manufacturer unveiled the semi Tuesday, Aug. 29. 2017 in Columbus, Indiana. (Courtesy of Cummins)


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  • rxlawdude

    I hope Cummins has some good Li-Ion engineers designing a battery management system so that their truck isn’t the semi version of the Nissan Leaf.