Tesla Inc. electrified the trucking world in mid-November with news of the launch of its battery-powered Semi tractor. Companies like UPS Inc., Schneider Inc., Sysco Corp., and PepsiCo Inc. quickly lined up to place orders for the $180,000 vehicle with a 500-mile range. But they're going to have to wait to take delivery of the vehicles: The first Tesla trucks won't roll off the assembly line until 2019.
In the meantime, rival electric truck maker Daimler has beaten Tesla to the punch. In mid-December, Daimler announced that it had handed over the first units of its Fuso e-Canter all-electric commercial vehicle to four customers in Europe for pilot tests. The customers, all global logistics companies, include Deutsche Post DHL Group, DB Schenker, Rhenus Logistics, and Dachser.
The Daimler and Tesla trucks are not comparable models. Daimler's light-duty Fuso e-Canter is smaller than the full-sized Tesla Semi, and at 62 miles, has a much shorter range. However, its quiet and emissions-free operation makes it a natural fit for urban delivery routes and city centers, the manufacturer says.
While the specific applications vary, all four Daimler customers plan to use the vehicles for city transport and deliveries in and around Berlin. For example, Rhenus will begin using three Fuso eCanter trucks this month in home-delivery trials, ferrying goods between the company's central warehouse in Hoppegarten and end customers in Berlin, while Dachser will begin operating two of the trucks in Berlin and Stuttgart this spring. Dachser said it will put the vehicles to use delivering pallets of industrial goods both to micro hubs and directly to customers.