Daimler Challenges Tesla by Unveiling Their Own Powerful Electric Truck

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The parent company of Mercedes, Daimler, has revealed that they are working on an electric truck.

Daimler showed off their new electric truck model, the Fuso eCanter, at a German trade show last September. Since then the truck has undergone some 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) of testing on the streets of Portugal and Germany. A limited production run of the eCanter will start later this year in New York, Tokyo, and Libson.

The announcement comes just one month after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company was pursuing an electric truck of their own. Daimler is hoping to begin mass production of the vehicle in 2019, which is right around the same time Tesla is planning to reveal their own electric truck.

However, Daimler does not see Tesla as much of a threat to their business model.

“In trucks, of course [Elon Musk’s] stepping into it, but we don’t see him as someone who is threatening us because you need a whole infrastructure,” Head of Daimler Trucks Asia, Marc Llistosella said. “You need dealerships, you need infrastructure, you need maintenance. It’s not so easy like a consumer good, it’s an industrial good, so it will be very difficult for him.”

Daimler oversees several different brands of trucks: Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mitsubishi FUSO, Western Star, BharatBenz, and Freightliner Trucks.

Development of the eCanter is being handled by FUSO, which Daimler acquired via a majority stake in the company back in 2004. Llistosella is CEO and president of Mitsubishi FUSO.

According to Llistosella the eCanter has an expected range of 100+ kilometers (62 miles), and is capable of hauling between two to three tons (4000 to 6000 pounds). The vehicle can charge under an hour via a DC fast charger. As battery technology improves over time, Daimler wants to launch an entire line of electric trucks, including heavy-duty trucks.

The truck industry is likely to experience a large disruption over the next few decade as companies switch to electric and entirely autonomous trucks. In the meantime, Daimler wants to pave the way to the future of the electric truck.

“We said, ‘just do a truck.’ Other companies are doing the same, let’s do it right, let’s be a frontrunner in something,” Llistosella said.