VW shows interest in majority Navistar stake

MUNICH, Germany – Volkswagen is showing interest in acquiring a majority of Navistar “at some point,” building on a minority stake that has already been secured. Volkswagen Truck and Bus acquired 16.6% of Navistar in 2016, and has already committed to developing a joint big bore powertrain for the North American market, as well as a medium-duty electric powertrain. Now Volkswagen's commercial arm is also preparing for a potential stock listing as it looks to take on other global manufacturers including Daimler and Volvo.

Here Comes the Sun: Does solar have a role as an alternative fuel?

TORONTO, Ont. -- In some corners of North America, the idea of adding solar power to a truck or trailer is a no-brainer. You'd be forgiven for thinking that none of those corners are in Canada. That's mostly true, but it doesn't necessarily mean that solar has no place here. Just that you must be careful in assessing manufacturer claims about what their solar gizmo can actually do. Almost all of Canada gets an average of 4.2 hours of solar sunlight a day. Two areas -- a small stretch of the southern prairies and a little ribbon of central B.C. -- crank that number up to 4.5 hours. Compare that to as many six hours in Arizona, New Mexico, and a patch of southeast California. Doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it's a big deal. A 300-watt solar setup that can help to run a tractor's electric APU in that part of the U.S. would probably have to be a 600- or 800-watt setup for a rig running, say, a Toronto-Montreal-Halifax route. It also means that manufacturer claims can be rather idealistic if calculations were based on experience in warm and sunny parts of our world. There's no subterfuge involved here, but “your mileage may vary,” as they say.

Context: Understanding electric trucks

Electric trucks seem to be all the rage today, just as natural gas was to be the industry's salvation just a few years back. There's not much excitement in natural gas today, though it remains a viable alternative fuel. Electric trucks, on the other hand, are just beginning their climb to prominence. Interest in electric trucks peaked in November with the world's first look at Tesla's Electric Semi. Whether Tesla can carry the torch for battery-powered heavy trucks remains to be seen, but Elon Musk isn't only player in the market. Transpower's electric Class 8 tractor uses a conventional drivetrain, but with a 400-horsepower electric motor. It has a range of up to 160 kilometers at full load. I drove a fully electric plug-in Transpower USA Class 8 tractor back in 2015. That truck had been in field tests at the port of Long Beach, California, for two years prior to that. The company made headlines recently announcing a partnership with Meritor that will make its technology commercially available in the spring of this year.