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.

BYD to open Ontario plant

TORONTO, ON - Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD Co. says it is planning to open its first assembly plant in Ontario. A Government of Ontario delegation that included Premier Kathleen Wynne and Michael Chan, Minister of International Trade visited the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China at the beginning of December on a mission to talk trade and tax credits. BYD says it will open the plant to conduct final assembly operations on short-range vehicles in the next 12 months, due in part to the investments the government is making in infrastructure to support electric vehicles in the next decade.

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.

Two more companies commit to Tesla orders

SEATTLE, WA - Two more companies have added themselves to the list of those pre-ordering Tesla's new fully-electric semi. Shipping company DHL, owned by Deutschhe Post AG, and Fortigo Freight Services said they each ordered a limited number of the trucks due out in 2019. DHL said its 10 trucks will be used for shorter routes, telling Reuters they would be deployed on shuttle runs and same-day customer deliveries, as well as being tested for fuel efficiency on longer runs throughout the United States.

Tesla releases semi prices amid a cash-poor situation

PALO ALTO, CA - In the time it'll take you to read this article, Tesla will have burned through more than US$24,000. The electric vehicle manufacturer released price points for its first three fully-electric Class 8 truck models, due to hit the streets in 2019, but industry watchers are also expressing concern over the manufacturer's spending speed and lack of liquidity. Bloomberg reported last week that the company is spending US$8,000 a minute, or nearly a half-million dollars an hour. At that spending rate Tesla will run out of cash in the early morning hours (eastern standard time) of Aug. 6, 2018, according to Bloomberg's math.

Tesla rolls ahead with Class 8

HAWTHORNE, CA - Elon Musk has officially unveiled the all-electric Class 8 Tesla Semi, following months of speculation and delays. Now the question is whether his company will become the industry disruptor it wants to be. A pair of prototype day cabs unveiled in California on Thursday featured a streamlined bullet-like design, evoking a look traditionally left to concept vehicles. And there were plenty of world media representatives there to share in the experience, each shepherded into a secure hanger for a brief peek. Just a day before, Musk went so far as to tweet this truck "can transform into a robot, fight aliens, and make one hell of a latte". Yes, it was hyperbole - there was no cappuccino machine anywhere -- but the Chief Executive Officer and product architect attracted plenty of attention for his latest announcement. More than 1,000 people were on hand for the launch, cheering every point that Musk made, especially when a new roadster rolled out of the back of the trailer.

Tesla Class 8’s will hit Canadian roads

MONTREAL, QC - More than 30 of Tesla's new fully-electric Class 8's could be on the road in Canada as soon as 2019. Three companies - including Canadian grocery and pharmacy giant Loblaw Companies - have wasted no time in making the move to the newly launched trucks. Tesla showcased the new Class 8 vehicles with an unveiling event in California last Thursday. Loblaw, J.B. Hunt, and Walmart announced Friday they each had secured pre-orders with the company. Although a final price for the trucks hasn't been listed yet, Loblaw put deposits of $5000 per truck on 25 of the vehicles, currently set to be released sometime in 2019. Walmart is also reporting a buy-in of 15 trucks, 10 of which will go to its Canadian operations, while the others will go to operations in the United States.