Arrogance is never pretty. This week, Martin Daum, head of the truck division at Daimler, spoke to journalists about his company’s all electric delivery truck, the e-Actos. The electric Daimler delivery truck is beginning trials with selected commercial users soon, with the start of full production expected in 2021. The e-Actos has a range of 124 miles.
Why, the press corps asked, will the e-Actos have less range in 2021 than the Tesla Semi will have when it goes into production in 2o19? Elon Musk claimed during a splashy reveal celebration last November that the Tesla Semi would have a range of between 300 and 500 miles. That’s when Herr Daum got huffy.
Battery technology is what it is, he said, according to Bloomberg. He suggested Tesla’s claims are just more pie in the sky promises from Elon Musk, who does have a richly deserved reputation for overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to getting new products into production.
“If Tesla really delivers on this promise, we’ll obviously buy two trucks — one to take apart and one to test because if that happens, something has passed us by,” Daum said. “But for now, the same laws of physics apply in Germany and in California,” he added. Ouch! Take that, Elon!
German grocery chain Edeka and parcel delivery service Hermes are scheduled to begin testing the e-Actos in commercial service in the coming weeks so Daimler can gain insights from real world testing prior to the start of full production. The Daimler electric truck will be available in two versions — one that can carry up to 18 tons and another with a carrying capacity of 26 tons. The company says the trucks will need about 11 hours to recharge.
Echoing sentiments often heard from traditional car companies — sentiments that will be familiar to CleanTechnica readers — Daum suggests there is limited demand for electric trucks at present, partly because no one knows how they will perform in real world conditions over time. “Trucks have to run for 1.5 million miles and then there’s a used-truck buyer too after that,” he says. “We don’t know for sure how batteries for trucks will react after being in use for four to five years — it’s very complex.”
While all of that may be true, there is no getting around that Musk and company have a way of doing what they say they are going to do — eventually. Laws of physics or not, Tesla has Daimler and every other heavy truck maker in its sights and is coming on fast. Daimler may be the largest truck manufacturer today, but that is no guarantee that it will continue to be tomorrow. The laws of market disruption are the same in Germany as they are in California, Herr Daum. Don’t get too smug, lest Tesla comes along and eats your lunch.
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