A new brand of Class 8 vocational truck is taking to Canadian roads, starting in Ontario where the first Battle Motors truck will be deployed clearing snow and spreading sand this winter.
The truck was delivered by Rush Truck Centres in late August. The first Canadian dealer for newly formed Battle Motors found a buyer that landed a new road maintenance contract and needed trucks, quickly, to fulfill its obligations.
It turned to Battle Motors, which has been somewhat protected from the supply chain shortages affecting mass-producing truck manufacturers and could provide a shorter lead time on orders.
“Battle Motors was smart enough to order a ton of components before everything started slowing down,” Peter Henry, Rush Truck Centres’ sales operations manager – GTA, told TruckNews.com during a tour of the new truck before it was delivered to the customer.
The truck is a low cab forward (LCF) configuration with a short wheelbase providing excellent visibility and a tight turning radius. It can be fit with a plow, dump body, box, or hook lift. But most will likely be deployed as waste collection trucks, a LCF segment currently dominated by Mack and Peterbilt.
You could be forgiven for not having heard of Battle Motors, but may know a little of its history as Crane Carrier Company, which previously had a small presence in the Canadian market.
Crane Carrier Company has been producing vocational trucks for 75 years out of a factory in New Philadelphia, Ohio. It actually got its start post-WWII, taking surplus military vehicles and reconfiguring them for domestic vocational jobs in the petroleum and construction segments. Battle Motors, by contrast, is an electric vehicle startup in California. One of its three founders is Nick Sampson, former head of vehicle engineering at Tesla.
The company wants to electrify the vocational truck space but first needed trucks to electrify. It found the vehicles in Crane Carrier Company and acquired the truck maker last year.
“We are combining the best of last century’s severe-duty diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) technology with best-in-class EV technology to produce full electric trucks for the marketplace,” Michael Patterson, CEO of Battle Motors and also founder of Romeo Power, said in a release upon acquiring Crane. “There has been minimal movement and very little fundamental innovation in this space. The merging together of a traditional mainstay of the industry with an innovative and highly advanced technology company will generate a radical shift in this important sector of the transportation industry.”
Battle’s current lineup features CNG, battery-electric, and diesel-powered vocational trucks. The new Philadelphia plant has been nearly tripled in size to 350,000 sq.-ft. Rush Truck Centre’s Henry recently visited the expanded site and said production there is being ramped up.
Battle Motors features
The first Canadian Battle Motors specimen – so new, in fact, it had yet to be updated with the impactful Battle Motors grille that future versions will wear – will provide its driver with easy access to the cab via an 18-inch step and well-placed grab handles.
The low ride height is achieved by locating the radiator and other front-end components behind the cab. Fans draw the air in and reduce the chance of the radiator getting plugged up, Henry explained.
The massive two-piece windshield affords excellent visibility, and controls are well placed within easy reach of the driver. The dash is functional and traditional. Images of electric versions of Battle Motors trucks are by necessity more technology-laden with digital display and onboard telematics.
The tilting/telescopic steering wheel can be ideally placed for operator comfort, and creature comforts like power windows and locks are available.
The passenger side of the cab is spacious, with room to sit two if spec’d to do so. Henry said the Battle Motors truck features a wide range of spec’ing options and is very much a custom-built truck. It doesn’t compete directly with any other International or Isuzu models Rush sells in the Ontario market, but nicely complements the Isuzu models available for lighter-duty applications, Class 6 and below.
Diesel engine offerings include the Cummins B6.7 and L9 (depending on the model), with 200-430 hp. Allison 3000 and 4500 RDS transmissions are available, with Dana axles standard. The Low Narrow Tilt has a cab width of 82 inches, while the Low Entry Tilt II is 94 inches wide.
Rush has several stock orders set to arrive in the coming weeks, which will be used at various locations to familiarize customers with the new offering.
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