Those of you who know me well know I have long preached about the fact that while new technologies like autonomous trucks and electric trucks are cool we need to stay focused on making diesel trucks more efficient and not get sucked in by all this shiny new stuff.
Well, I have to say that after attending the North American Commercial Vehicle show and now being front and center for the Tesla Semi Unveil, I have pivoted on my position. Don’t get me wrong, I think we still need to work on making diesel-powered trucks more efficient, but I also think we need to start turning some of our attention to electric powered trucks. I now believe that with electric trucks we have moved past the “if” stage and are in the “when” stage. All the news coming out of NACV and Tesla about what is going on in the electric truck space has caused me to change my position on the reality of electric trucks in the not-too-distant future.
You could say these events were my “aha” moment.
In fact, one thing became very clear to me and that is that electric trucks are even more ripe for technologies that improve their efficiency. For one thing, the batteries available today can’t store a tremendous amount of energy and range is a big issue currently inhibiting their widespread use.
That means that things like aerodynamics, tires and hoteling efficiency become even more important when trucks are powered by batteries and not diesel fuel.
The industry needs to start looking at whether the currently available fuel-efficiency technologies are going to work on electric-powered trucks and those powered by natural gas as well.
If not, I don’t think it is too early for us to put some R&D dollars behind finding ways to adapt existing technologies, so they work with electric powered vehicles or start developing other types of fuel-efficiency technologies that can be used to help squeeze more miles out of a battery.
I have no doubt that together we can make this happen. After all look how far we now are getting on a gallon of diesel.