Daimler is one of several companies, including major OEMs and startups, working on electric trucks. At the American Trucking Association’s annual Management Conference & Exhibition, Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, told journalists that the company’s development of electric trucks is happening “at a greater speed than expected.”
Just before the conference, Daimler met with some 30 customers who are testing the company’s electric trucks. In June, Daimler unveiled the all-electric Freightliner eCascadia heavy-duty and Freightliner eM2 medium-duty models. In September, Daimler led a $155 million investment in electric bus manufacturer Proterra. More recently, the two companies announced a collaboration on an electric school bus. Nielsen said he had recently tested the bus, nicknamed Jouley, and was impressed by its 0-60 acceleration.
Responding to a question about competition from Tesla’s electric Semi, Nielsen said, “The best battery solution is going to win. It’s all about energy consumption.” He predicted Daimler would have the “highest number” of commercial EVs on the market in 2020.
Nielsen said the recent meeting with customers convinced him that they want an electric vehicle that’s not too different from the legacy models their drivers are familiar with. Daimler’s Freightliner offers “a smooth transition from a diesel-powered truck to an electric-powered truck,” he said.
Nielsen also said that a new research center devoted to automated driving is up and running, and the company is “hiring a lot of folks.” He believes Level 4 automation will offer a “positive business case,” but doesn’t see human drivers becoming obsolete any time soon.