Home Technology 8 electric truck and van companies to watch

8 electric truck and van companies to watch

Editor’s be aware: You can discover an up to date model of this checklist for 2021 at this link.

In current months, we’ve shone consideration on companies racing to bring electric aviation to the skies within the coming a long time. Now, it’s time to highlight startups and automotive giants working to electrify soiled supply and distribution vehicles within the coming years. That’s proper. We’re speaking all-electric heavy-duty huge rigs, semi-trucks, field vehicles, supply vans and extra. 

Unlike the regulatory challenges that pioneering aviation companies have to cope with earlier than they will take flight, the key obstacles dealing with the automotive business are ones of scale, worth factors and battery know-how. There’s additionally the problem of constructing an interstate community of electric car (EV) charging stations able to preserving the subsequent era of long-haul vehicles on the street. 

However, as a result of 80 percent of freight (PDF) within the United States is transported lower than 250 miles, the front-of-the-pack all-electric vehicles are designed to journey on predictable regional or last-mile routes that permit them to return to a central depot for charging. 

That doesn’t imply constructing the centralized charging infrastructure can be simple. In a joint survey that GreenBiz carried out with UPS final 12 months on fleet electrification, 92 p.c of survey respondents mentioned their facility isn’t “very properly geared up” to accommodate industrial charging wants.

Despite the potholes and rising pains that lie forward, over the subsequent 10 years, we are able to anticipate to see extra electric automobiles driving alongside and even changing the diesel- and gas-powered vehicles and vans that America depends on to carry items throughout the nation.

Less than 1 p.c of fleet automobiles is electric, however that quantity is expected to grow to 12 p.c by 2030. Moreso, falling battery prices, business partnerships and authorities incentives and mandates for zero-emission vehicles from states corresponding to California are pressuring the business’s largest multinational producers to step on the gasoline — so to converse.

Here are eight big-name gamers to control in 2020.


Unlike different companies trying to disrupt the long-haul trucking business, BYD is eyeing the short-haul items motion sector, primarily in America’s ports, rail yards and freight-handling services. BYD is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, with workplaces and an meeting manufacturing facility in Lancaster, California. In 2020, it’s getting ready to roll out extra of its battery-electric trucks to prospects throughout the United States.

BYD is the world’s largest EV maker by way of quantity of automobiles offered (together with buses, forklifts, vehicles and rail programs). That consists of its long-range battery-electric Class 8 Day Cab, a Class 6 truck, a terminal tractor and two fashions of all-electric refuse vehicles.

BYD’s Class 8 Day Cab has a range of 125 miles and a high velocity of 65 miles per hour. The truck’s battery packs can recharge in as little as two hours with a high-speed direct present system or about 14 hours with an ordinary 240-volt charging system. 

Whereas nearly all of BYD’s progress continues to come from its electric bus gross sales, the corporate’s trucking division says its medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles are making up an rising a part of the corporate’s U.S. operations. 

Unlike different aspiring all-electric truck producers, BYD is already filling orders for its Class 8 Day Cab. Anheuser-Busch deployed 21 BYD Class 8 vehicles in its Southern California fleet on the tail finish of 2019.


One firm aiming to electrify the package deal supply business is a Los Angeles-based, Chinese-backed startup known as Chanje

The firm’s almost 30-foot lengthy V8100 electric medium-duty panel van can carry a 3-ton payload. What’s extra, the van’s lithium-ion battery pack holds sufficient cost for a 150-mile vary. According to the company, that’s greater than double the variety of miles nearly all of industrial supply vans drive in a day.

Chanje’s V8100s are already on the roads. In 2018, Ryder System announced it would buy 900 of Chanje’s Class 5 electric vans to lease to FedEx. Later, the supply and logistics firm mentioned it will purchase an extra 100 of the all-electric vehicles (all of FedEx’s 1,000 Chanje V8100s will operate in California), and Ryder ordered 500.

Earlier this year, Thermo King and Chanje partnered to create a totally built-in refrigerated model of its V8100 supply van. 

Daimler Trucks

In 2018, German automaker Daimler, the most important truck maker on the earth, announced its all-electric 18-wheeler: the Freightliner eCascadia

The huge rig has a 250-mile vary and was designed for regional transportation and port service. Daimler’s different all-electric mannequin, the Freightliner eM2 106, has a 230-mile vary and is meant for extra native distribution and deliveries. The company also has an all-electric field truck (for city deliveries) and a college bus within the pipeline.

Daimler mentioned it’s anticipating to have the eCascadia and eM2 106 in manufacturing in its Portland, Oregon manufacturing facility in late 2021. 

Given that the corporate, greatest identified for its Mercedes-Benz model, has a 40 p.c share in North America’s roughly $39 billion heavy-duty truck market, it’ll be attention-grabbing to watch whether or not Daimler can be a frontrunner or a laggard within the race to all-electric supply automobiles.

Nikola Motors 

Whereas many know that Tesla Inc. was named after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created electric motors, few are possible to be acquainted with the Phoenix-based startup that acquired the naming rights to Tesla’s first identify. However, over the previous 5 years, Nikola Motor Co. has slowly however certainly emerged as a pioneer on this house.

The firm has created the Nikola One and Nikola Two for North American roadways, and the Nikola Tre for Asia, Australia and Europe. Each semi-truck can be obtainable with both totally electric or hydrogen gas cell electric capabilities, and their anticipated ranges are between 500 and 700 miles. The firm has but to publicly launch precise pricing for every of its three semi-truck fashions.

To refuel the tens of hundreds of hydrogen-powered huge rigs it plans to placed on America’s roads, the corporate plans to construct a coast-to-coast community of 700 hydrogen stations throughout the United States by 2028. (To put that into perspective, in accordance to the International Energy Agency, there are currently about 400 hydrogen fueling stations worldwide.) The firm says every refueling station will use electrical energy from renewable power sources corresponding to wind and photo voltaic to extract hydrogen gas from water. It will take between 10 and quarter-hour to refill one in every of its semi-trucks. More so, the company wants carmakers together with Daimler, General Motors and Toyota to use its fueling stations to broaden their very own hydrogen gas cell car gross sales exterior of California.

According to Nikola, it plans to start full manufacturing of its semis in 2021, and it already has orders to lease 14,000 of its huge rigs. It’s aiming to have all of these pre-ordered automobiles on the street by 2028. The firm likely will roll out the battery-electric variations of its three truck fashions earlier than its gas cell automobiles.

A closing comparability between Tesla and Nikola: Anheuser-Busch Co. positioned orders with each companies: 40 vehicles from Tesla and 800 vehicles from Nikola. One purpose? Nikola’s hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles don’t require heavy lithium batteries, which makes them about 5,000 kilos lighter than a Tesla Semi.


Rivian made headlines in September when Amazon (one in every of its investors) introduced its plans to buy 100,000 of the automotive startup’s all-electric supply vehicles. It was an enormous, China-scale order, geared towards serving to Amazon attain its 2040 net-zero carbon objective. Fulfilling that order, nonetheless, can be difficult.

First, in its 10 years of existence, Michigan-based Rivian has but to produce an EV for the lots. It’s within the closing levels of testing its electric pickup truck, the R1T, which it plans to start full-scale manufacturing on in 2020. According to Amazon, that’s additionally when it can make its first supply with a Rivian prototype. 

The firm expects to have 10,000 Rivian supply automobiles on the street by 2022, and Rivian mentioned that each one 100,000 electric supply vehicles can be in service by 2023 (it stays unclear whether or not these automobiles will function within the United States and/or globally). 

As lofty a objective as that is for Amazon (and as herculean a process it’s for Rivian), Amazon’s eyebrow-raising order possible will strain different companies corresponding to DHL, FedEx and UPS to extend investments to add electric supply automobiles to their very own last-mile fleets sooner slightly than later.


Given Tesla’s management with EVs, it’s no shock the corporate is on the forefront of changing diesel-guzzling, long-haul huge rigs with all-electric, heavy-duty semi-trucks. Tesla first introduced the Tesla Semi in 2017 and mentioned manufacturing would begin in early 2019. That manufacturing date later was pushed back to late 2020.

There are two Tesla Semis: one with a 300-mile vary and one with a 500- to 600-mile vary. According to the corporate, the anticipated base costs for these vehicles are $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. (To put that into perspective, a typical Class 8 diesel day-cab starts at roughly $120,000.) The firm additionally says the Tesla Semi could have a two-year payback interval. That’s making an allowance for gas financial savings and the truth that the Tesla Semi could have fewer programs to keep in contrast to diesel automobiles.

The Tesla Semi has 4 Model 3-derived electric motors, which can permit it to speed up from 0 mph to 60 mph in 20 seconds whereas carrying a full load (roughly 40 tons). The truck can keep that 60-mph velocity whereas touring up a 5 p.c grade. 

The firm claims the Tesla Semi makes use of lower than 2 kilowatt-hours of energy per mile, and a future “Convoy Mode” characteristic will permit a number of Tesla Semis to semi-autonomously slipstream, additional decreasing drag and rising effectivity. 

Although big-name companies corresponding to Anheuser-Busch, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Walmart have expressed curiosity within the Tesla Semi, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that solely “about 2,000” Tesla Semis had been ordered as of May. That’s properly wanting his earlier claims in 2018, when he mentioned it was reasonable to expect Tesla Semi orders to hit 100,000 a 12 months by 2022. 

Given Tesla’s challenges with ongoing labor feuds and struggling profitability (not to point out that the corporate has but to announce the situation of its Tesla Semi manufacturing manufacturing facility, and it nonetheless wants to construct out a community of “Megacharger” stations that may cater to long-haul truck routes), some think 2021 is a extra possible manufacturing timeline for the Tesla Semi. 


Volvo Trucks has developed a zero-emission truck known as the VNR Electric that’s supposed for regional use in North America. The firm reportedly began freeway street assessments in 2019; it has mentioned industrial manufacturing and gross sales will start in late 2020. 

Although Volvo invested $400 million into its New River Valley, Virginia, manufacturing facility to assemble the vehicles, VNR Electric will hit Southern California’s roadways first (5 already did in 2019). In 2020, a complete of 23 battery-electric Volvo vehicles will run routes in and round Los Angeles, together with the cities of Ontario, Chino and Fontana, in addition to the Long Beach and Los Angeles port complicated. 

VNR Electric is a part of Volvo’s broader Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) initiative with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). According to an organization assertion, the $90 million pilot program (half of which is funded by the California Air Resources Board) is a part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that funnels billions of Cap-and-Trade {dollars} towards decreasing greenhouse gasoline emissions and enhancing public well being.

Volvo has but to announce the VNR Electric’s vary, and it’s ready to announce the value for every car. However, like different companies, Volvo plans to provide month-to-month lease agreements that can embrace insurance coverage and upkeep. Additionally, Volvo mentioned it can lease out charging set up and obligatory infrastructure enhancements for its vehicles.


Another electric truck startup to watch in 2020 is Workhorse Group. The firm is behind the Workhorse W-15 plug-in electric pickup truck, and it’s additionally creating an all-electric supply van known as the C1000. Workhorse is reportedly constructing 950 electric delivery vans for UPS, most definitely within the former General Motors’ plant it purchased in Lordstown, Ohio, in November.

Where Workhorse actually stands to seize headlines this 12 months is with the United States Postal Service (USPS). That’s as a result of the USPS is shifting ahead with long-delayed plans to award an estimated $6.3 billion contract to produce 186,000 new mail vehicles over the subsequent 5 to seven years. That’s almost double Amazon’s order for Rivian’s all-electric supply vehicles.

Four groups, cut up throughout six companies, compete for the USPS contract: India’s Mahindra Automotive North America; Turkey’s Karsan/Michigan’s Morgan Olson; American companies Oshkosh/Ford; and Workhorse. The companies are barred of their contracts from publicly commenting on their prototypes, however two contenders are totally electric and no less than one of many different two is a hybrid mannequin. 

The USPS already mentioned it’s open to splitting the multi-billion-dollar contract between a number of companies. It claims that sticker worth alone received’t decide who’s awarded a contract. That’s excellent news for companies corresponding to Workhorse which can be creating hybrid- and all-electric automobiles, which possible can be costlier to produce. What’s unhealthy information, no less than for Mahindra Automotive and Karsan, is the current sentiment in Washington, D.C., to “Buy American.”

Despite its getting old fleet, the USPS has been slow to innovate. Prototype trials took roughly three times longer than initially anticipated, and it’s unclear how lengthy the company will take to consider the companies after it formally releases its RFP. The USPS’ sluggish tempo ahead has been compounded by scrutiny from the Trump administration, which repeatedly has known as for the money-losing company’s restructuring. 

However, ought to Workhorse be awarded all or a few of the USPS contract, it possible will pave the best way to a extra sure future for a startup that also has a lot of questions swirling round it, together with its lack of expertise in mass car manufacturing.


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