Daimler has unveiled its first all-electric semi-trailer scheduled to start production in 2021, taking a significant step forward in the EV industry alongside other rivals such as Tesla .
The 18-wheeler Freightliner eCascadia was shown to the world for the first time yesterday in Portland, Oregon and will be suited for regional use and port services as it has a 250-mile range.
Tesla also has a big rig truck planned, expected to enter the production stage in 2020, called Tesla Semi which will have a range advantage over the eCascadia fronting its 500-mile battery capacity.
The German auto manufacturer also unveiled another model at the event, the Freightliner eM2 106, which is designed for distribution on a local level as it will be able to travel 230 miles before needing to charge.
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Competition in the electric semi-trailer market is escalating and Daimler, who is currently the world's largest truck manufacturer, will have to continue innovation in the EV sector to stay on top.
The company, which owns car brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Smart, said that 30 prototypes of the two electric trucks will be delivered to customers this year for field-testing ahead of the scheduled start of production in 2021.
Martin Daum, head of Daimler's trucks and buses, told Reuters the company would not offer pre-orders for trucks, like Tesla does to raise funds, but rather give the prototypes to costumers.
“We don't need the down payments to finance our investment,” he said. “We give [customers] prototypes. We don't charge for that. It's gaining knowledge on their side, as well as on our side. Then we sell the trucks and then deliver the trucks. We don't need any pre-orders.”
Daimler will invest over €2.5bn (£2,2bn) in its truck operations by 2019, with more than €500m set aside for electric commercial vehicles.
It also said that the German company Akasol will be in charge of supplying batteries for the new big rig models.