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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.

Path to electrification not straight to linehaul: Mack

OAKLAND, CA - Mack Trucks continues to see a healthy future for diesel engines, even as alternatives like electrification begin to emerge. "Diesel today, it's performing extremely well. It's cleaner than it's ever been, it's robust, it's versatile," said Roy Horton, director - product strategy, during a briefing in Oakland, California. As for talk about electric trucks? "It's almost a little bit of an uphill battle there." Electrification is "on the bubble, and it's something everyone is looking at," he said, admitting that the recent unveiling of Elon Musk's Tesla Semi attracted attention. "It's definitely going to be part of our future." Just not for longhaul. Not right away. Mack believes the earliest adopters of electrification will be operations with the chance to charge at a home base and not depend on general infrastructure for fuel. That includes refuse, local delivery, and public transportation fleets.