In an interview with Trucks.com, the CEO of international truck-maker Navistar said that his company would have more electric trucks on the road than Tesla by 2025.
CEO Troy Clarke’s claim is a bit of a red-delicious-to-granny-smith comparison, though, as his company has, thus far, only announced a medium-duty electric truck and an electric school bus. Tesla, on the other hand, has announced a heavy-duty truck that will theoretically be able to haul 80,000 lbs and travel up to 500 miles on a single charge. Navistar, by comparison, has not yet announced a range for its medium-duty electric truck, though Clarke said (like most medium-duty trucks), Navistar’s electric version would “run short distances and can depot to recharge at the end of the day.” Navistar’s all-electric school bus—the unfortunately-styled “chargE”—will have a range exceeding 120 miles.
Beating Tesla on a delivery timetable alone seems like a good way to set up a one-sided competition—the company has notoriously had trouble meeting delivery deadlines. Navistar also has significant truck-building resources. The company builds a variety of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, as well as school buses, military-style vehicles, and engines. Its electric vehicle foray benefits from a research-and-development partnership with Volkswagen Truck & Bus. (VW owns 17 percent of Navistar, according to Trucks.com.)
Tesla has promised that its semis will arrive in 2019, but a history of missing deadlines might give companies like Navistar the lead time they need to roll out more electric trucks. Navistar says its medium-duty truck and electric school buses will be ready for the commercial market by late 2019 or early 2020.
Both Navistar and Tesla have considerable competition in the electric-truck field. This year, Proterra built an electric bus that set a range record at 1,101.2 miles on a single charge. Daimler has already launched a short-haul electric truck which it’s supplying to UPS. Cummins, a major truck engine maker in the US, has announced its own all-electric truck cab and electric/diesel hybrid (Navistar buys diesel Cummins engines for its trucks as well).
Still, when it comes to lowering emissions from a polluting industry, a little friendly competition seems worthwhile. That’s especially true if competition lowers the cost of entry into an electric-freight ecosystem.