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Tesla Semi–Like Electric Truck From JAC Spotted In China

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According to a report from from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and Federal Highway Administration, Freight Analysis, and as reported by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2021, 87% of U.S. truck freight tonnage was shipped fewer than 250 miles (400 km). Trucks moved nearly 12 billion tons of freight domestically in 2021. The reports shows that shipments below 100 miles accounted for 44% of the total tonnage, and shipments between 100 and 249 miles accounted for 43%. The report adds that this breakdown has important implications as the freight sector shifts towards electric drive and other alternative fuels where range and refuelling infrastructure may be limiting factors. This is some very useful data from a country where trucking moved two-thirds of domestic freight in terms of tonnage and three-fourths of freight in terms of value in 2021.

As the transition to electric mobility progresses, more firms are adding electric options to their heavy truck range. A lot of these developments have been covered here on CleanTechnica. But perhaps the most popular and most widely anticipated of all is the Tesla Semi. Tesla says that this Semi truck has less than 2 kWh per mile of energy consumption and can travel up to 500 miles on a single charge. This will certainly help revolutionise the trucking industry in the USA and other parts of the world. In an interesting development, an electric truck that appears to have been inspired by the Tesla Semi was recently spotted in China. According to a post on X by Tycho de Feijter, some spy shots suggest the cabin layout had the driver in the centre, with an additional seat on either side in a 3-seat cabin configuration. The driver in the centre is similar to the Tesla Semi.

The JAC electric truck has two electric motors, 246kW each, and a top speed of 89 km/h. The JAC truck has a swappable battery pack with a range of about 350 km. The choice of making the JAC’s battery packs swappable is an interesting one. As more trucks get electrified, they will probably get megawatt-hour-capacity battery packs and charging speeds ranging from about 350 kW to 1 MW, and even faster in future. For large fleet operators and also for truck stops on the major highways in a lot of countries, depending on how busy they can get, and looking at it simplistically, having, say, 50 stalls at the very big truck stops or depots would work out to 17.5 MW to 50 MW! (50 x 350 kW to 1 MW.) 50 MW is like capacity for a small town, and let us say there is a rollout of a 50-charging-stall setup at 1,000 truck stops — this will be like upgrading or developing new substations and associated grid infrastructure for 1,000 “new” small towns. This will be a big opportunity for players in this industry and the associated downstream industries, with loads of job creation opportunities and a boost to the local economy.

However, battery swapping setups could also be one of the viable options in various parts of the world, alleviating or delaying costly upgrades to infrastructure and catalysing the adoption of these types of trucks. Battery swapping could also unlock other financing models such as these semi-trucks coupled with battery leasing options and energy as a service plans. Tycho adds that battery-swap electric trucks are already quite common in China, especially for short-haul routes. The 350 km range of this JAC truck is pretty decent, especially when coupled with this battery swapping as well as looking at the data from the USA — 87% of U.S. truck freight tonnage being shipped fewer than 250 miles (400 km). We can therefore probably apply this trucking range data to other smaller countries fairly comfortably, meaning that a 350 km range semi truck like this JAC Motors one could be quite useful for a lot of applications.

Given the anticipated demand for the Tesla Semi and the forthcoming production ramp up, we can assume that there will be an insatiable demand for the Tesla Semi in the USA and eventually in other markets where Tesla already has a presence. There could be a massive opportunity for other players like JAC to take the lead not only in China but in other markets around the world where Tesla may not be able to get to in the very near future, or where Tesla does not plan to have some presence any time soon. Africa comes to mind in this regard as well as some other places. JAC already has a presence on the African continent, and it just could be one of the best options for the continent in the near future.

Images courtesy of Tycho de Feijter

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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