Cummins unveiled a revolutionary new all-electric powertrain in a demonstrator truck to the media on August 29, a few weeks ahead of Tesla’s planned revealing of its own electric “semi” truck. The truck is not self-driving, yet it fills a direct need in the path of self-driving trucks.
SupplyChain reports Cummins Taking on Tesla with Electric Semi Truck.
Cummins Inc. has unveiled plans for an electric truck, beating Tesla to the punch.
Cummins late yesterday showed off its designs revealed a fully electric class 7 demonstration Urban Hauler Tractor, adding to its portfolio of environmentally friendly engines.
The lighter, denser battery design allows it to hold a longer charge for improved range and faster charging, reducing down time.
The truck is expected to have a maximum payload of 44,000 pounds, with a battery’s capacity is 140 kilowatt-hours, which is enough for about 100 miles of range, making it more suitable for local deliveries.
An extended-range version is also being developed with a 300-mile range thanks to a diesel engine serving as the range extender.
Cummins predicted that battery improvement could lead to a 20-minute charge time for trucks by 2020, compared to the one hour it takes now.
Tesla is expected to unveil its plans for an electric semi in September with a range of somewhere between 200 and 300 miles.
Another Cog in Autonomous Puzzle
The vehicle is not self-driving, yet. But there is no reason it cannot be or will not be by 2021 or so. Third parties may be able to modify the truck so that it is self-driving.
Even if that does not happen soon enough, the truck nicely fills in a piece of the puzzle. Self-driving trucks will initially be on highways, hub-to-hub. The last mile may require a driver.
Give this thing a 20-minute recharge time and a range of 200 miles and it is nicely suited as a last-mile piece of the puzzle.
Eventually, trucks will self-drive in cities even if that is not allowed initially.
Conversation With a 25-Year Short-Haul Trucker
On August 6, I had a Conversation With a 25-Year Short-Haul Trucker.
I nicknamed the driver “SH”. His definition of “short-haul” meant he returned home every night. However, “SH” did not do end deliveries. Rather, he did hub-to-hub deliveries, driving five hours in one direction, then five hours back, dropping off loads in each direction.
SH’s Job Routine
- SH drives his car to a trucking hub.
- He picks up a loaded truck and drives 4-5 hours in one direction.
- He drops off the load at a designated hub.
- He picks up a load or another truck that someone else dropped off.
- He drives that load back 4-5 hours at his starting hub.
- SH picks up his car and drives home.
Drivers Not Needed
In addition to the 11-hour limit, there are many additional restrictions as noted by the FMCSA Summary of Hours of Service Regulations.
Particularly limiting is the 60/70-Hour Limit: “Property carrying drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.”
The moment drivers are not required, the cost of the driver, the cost of the driver’s benefits, and the mandated down time will all go away.
Long haul and hub-to-hub drivers will vanish within a year or so of self-driving trucks being allowed on the highways.
Both autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles will take over at a pace far faster than most expect.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Last mile already done and Autonomous ready.
Yes, it is ready and working, with customers. http://arrival.com/
Roborace formula also ready – http://roborace.com/
Formula-e offshoot that came from Formula1.
Can’t tell you what I have also seen, impressive and ready to ship.
Notice DHL as one sponsor on Roborace Car, etc.
All related to ARRIVAL from what I have read.
EV has been delivering UK dairy since at least the 50s.
Seems diesel is taking over for range and speed now because customer base has become more distributed… but you know the old milkfloats weren’t fast… just enough to be slip streamed by a Robin Reliant… according to Jasper Carrot.
There was letter and pacel delivery too using Lucas Electric Pb-Acid based electric vans. They were active to at least 1986 in some university applications from department to department.
What goes around comes around.
Rande R said:
Local and state governments don’t like to admit it, but revenue from traffic citations is a huge cash cow. Once autonomous vehicles are the norm, this funding source will evaporate overnight. Combined with the lack of gasoline/diesel taxes from electric vehicles, tax rates are going to necessarily increase quite significantly. Rather than”flat”taxes, they will likely be GPS based, taxes per mile driven. The problem there becomes privacy; someone will keep track of exactly where every vehicle was all the time. Imagine divorce attorneys having access to these records to prove you were at the girlfriends house last night instead of working late…
I agree with everything. Even the lawyer stuff!
If there is a 95% drop in traffic violations and accidents, then you will not need as many people to enforce or deal with it, thus reducing the costs as well.
Whether the energy source is gas, diesel, or electric, government can find ways to tax it. Or, as you say, they can increase road tolls. I’m sure that they will be fine.
Diogenes of Sinope said:
“If there is a 95% drop in traffic violations and accidents, then you will not need as many people to enforce or deal with it, thus reducing the costs as well.”
Those people vote. Reducing costs? Matters not if there is anything for them to enforce or administrate. They are part of the captured political class that effectively votes for a living. To reduce them in large numbers would be intolerable, unless a new class of voter can replace them.
Now then, who could possibly serve as the replacement class? Hmm, (index finger to the lips) …let me think about it.
Cummins, with its long history of producing good engines, is much more likely to produce an excellent product than Tesla….So bet on them.
Maybe, or maybe not. Other companies with a long history include Kodak and Polaroid, Lehman Bros, Blockbuster, Enron, and so on. History isn’t as important as it once was.
Diogenes of Sinope said:
“History isn’t as important as it once was.”
Kodak needed badly for somebody to tell them that. Instead, they arrogantly dismissed the future even as digital was on the doorstep knocking on their door.
In fact, all those brands were all arrogantly dismissive of the future, even as it lay before them. I think pyrrhus is saying that Cummings actually IS embracing the future and applying their already substantial experience to the task at hand.
“History isn’t as important as it once was.”
Says someone who’s importance has become history.
My whole life to this point, is now history. As is everyone’s.
“I think pyrrhus is saying that Cummings actually IS embracing the future and applying their already substantial experience to the task at hand.”
And he may indeed be right. But it is not a guarantee by any means.
Diogenes of Sinope said:
Look, this isn’t Musk going to Mars.
It’s not Bezos mining asteroids for PMs.
It’s not Brin and Page creating virtual reality for us if we’re insane enough to walk around with their glasses on our face.
It’s Cummins applying itself in heavy commercial vehicle powertrains. It’s a space that they have very substantial experience in. I’m expecting good things, along with rather unexpected things. If nothing else, it is interesting and may spin off other useful technology.
The tractor is a little heavy at 24 – 25,000 lbs. Typical diesel tractor with tandem drivers is 19 – 20,000 lbs. Assuming van weight of 7,000 lbs (more if it is a reefer) then the vehicle is about 5,000 short of the limit. One has to factor in the gross weight limit for things like taxes, fees, and haulage charges. One may eliminate the driver and those costs, but the trade off is a reduced fee for hauling freight. Assuming flat terrain, a hundred miles covers about two hours travel time. Add in recharge time and one begins to see that autonomous semis are not exactly saving money. A six hundred mile haul will take about the a couple of hours longer than a Class A driver would take. Add into that the slower speeds (anything over 55 MPH is pushing more air at reduced mileage) and we have a number of commercial vehicles clogging the highways. In case you are wondering, these vehicles will not be safer. Studies have shown that in states like California where there are dual speed laws, a fast one for cars and a slower one for trucks encourages more accidents. I can’t imagine the public going back to the Double Nickel again. Besides, Burt Reynolds is dead. Of course one gets into the areas where the grades are better then two percent, the mileage goes down. Why don’t you boosters for autonomous trucking ever do the math?
Stuki Moi said:
This thing isn’t “autonomous.” Cummins is a fairly somber engine builder and engineering company, not a SciFi shop…. And this thing is intended for local, last mile delivery. Quite possibly in Europe, where more and more cities are now grumbling about banning diesel in their central areas. The long haul solution mentioned in the article, diesel for the highway, 100 miles of battery range for intra city, is ideal for those scenarios, if the weight can be kept reasonable.
But regardless of bans or not; in denser cities, so much of the route can be spent idling, that batteries can make sense. Idling and start/stop, isn’t what modern diesel engines are optimized for, to put it mildly. Initially this won’t happen on many routes, but as the trucks get out there, familiarity with their strengths and weaknesses on different types of routes will grow. Which, combined with increased refinement, more developed infrastructure and denser batteries, is likely to lead to at least a portion of routes going electric.
The important part, is getting live trucks out there in the real world. So one can get some data on how they perform in real world scenarios, where they make sense and where they do not. Instead of relying on nothing more than silly hype, peddled by clueless hucksters in the business of selling paper to yield starved Fed freshprint recipients.
we can thank elon musk for creating massive hype around EVs which modestly accelerated introduction of EVs.
Shame that the stockholders of Tesla ain’t going to see any of the magic, because once the big guys step in; Tesla is going to be squashed like a bug.
The Toyota Prius did more for EV acceptance that everything Musk/Tesla will ever do…
Macro Investor said:
I don’t understand. What is the benefit of an electric semi vs diesel?
Same as a Prius, they are more profitable.
“Third parties may be able to modify the truck so that it is self-driving.”
Williambean is correct.
A 25K lb tractor means every load will be forced to carry 6.25% *less* capacity. (5K/80K). Also, a 100 mile capacity means you’re limited to a 50 mile drop range limit (1/2 battery, there and back). Current diesels have about a 700 mile capacity or a 350 mile drop range. When the electric truck returns it will needs 1 hour to recharge. Every charge burns 1 hour of the drivers 14 hour limit for daily driving, meaning he’s 7.14% (1/14) *less* productive.
On what planet does it make sense for a company to invest in technology that gives:
1) 6.25% *less* weight capacity
2) 7.14% *less* productivity (min., probably more)
3) 88.5% *less* drivable range (350-40/350)
The only puzzle piece this fills is how electric semis still aren’t practical and most likely won’t be for at least the next decade.
Beer Drinker said:
I think you are missing the piece where trucks could charge up while loading/unloading at the dock. If I can get a good 15 to 30 minutes (or more) charge at each stop my range is much further than 50 miles. Infrastructure for this obviously needs to be put in place, but I wouldn’t think more than $1k a door and you wouldn’t need to do every door in the facility. Simply discounting the delivery by $10 a truck (no driver and cheaper fuel after all) would ROI out in under a year even with only one truck a day and then start making money for the site.
Heck, if you wanted to take this further start putting batteries in to the trailers that are charging while they sit without a tractor all day at the dock. You would then have tractors with 100 mile range + trailer with a 300 mile range for 400 miles distance.
Batteries in the trailer would further reduce weight capacity making it even more impractical. Electric semis, currently, are completely untenable. Cummings put out the press release to preempt Elon Musk’s forthcoming electric semi engine press conference.
Jarhead John said:
Up next—-The Electrodrive self-navigating casket…Saves thousands by eliminating that pesky middle man undertaker…..
Michael Surkan said:
I don’t think short-range EV trucks will have any real impact on autonomous driving. The first application of autonomous driving will be in long range trucking and EV just won’t be up to that for a long time. Likewise, solving all the complexities of urban short-haul trucking is far more complex than autonomous long-haul shipping and will also take a long time.
So all the announcements of short-haul EV trucks will have pretty impact on the first decade of autonomous driving.
Ambrose Bierce said:
it will work because a real driver is never going to average anything like 55, with pit stops, scales, routine mandated 15 minute walkarounds every two hours. You can set the speed at 35 with no human contact and fly past the human driver. and without speeding to try and make up for lost time. just wonder if the thing is smart enough to know when something is wrong and shut it down. to that purpose i would have lots of cameras and dispatchers who monitor them.
All-electric transport trucks will remain a niche market for some time because the cost/benefit doesn’t justify their widespread use. The reason that the vast majority of technology gets adopted is because the cost/benefit is too good too ignore.
I disagree with our host on all-electric vehicles until the cost/benefit improves. I am more excited about hybrid electric.
However, when it comes to autonomous vehicles (which this Cummins is not), I agree with our host that they will indeed be transformational over the next 30 years. He is just more optimistic on the timeline than I am.
Given the regulatory climate aimed at restricting electric power generation, I question where is the electric power going to come from?
Diogenes of Sinope said:
The electric power will be generated by the sun and distributed by Solyndra. I thought everyone already knew that.
The real question is what to do when immense numbers of automotive batteries begin cluttering up landfills and contaminating soil the way plastic bottles are fouling up the oceans.
Trump won. Coal is back. Dirty electric ’til the cows come home…
“But there is no reason it cannot be or will not be by 2021 or so. ”
Tons of reasons why it can’t and won’t be self-driving by 2021. For instance, nobody has yet to ship, nevermind field-prove, a fully drive-by-wire car with no mechanical linkages and backups. I’d expect that such a car would need a minimum of 5 years availability and perfect performance before regulators would accept drive-by-wire as a concept. Maybe even longer.
I know Mish has invested his personal reputation so heavily into the promotion of self-driving cars, and I agree with him generally that the future is highly deflationary, at least until the labour glut dissipates due to demographics, but ignoring the basic facts about self-driving cars really is unfortunate.
You provided no facts – You provided an opinion you want to believe.
No one ever said “drive by wire” was coming.
Perhaps it will, but why the hell is it needed to make autonomous cars work?
If it was needed, it would be being worked on right now.
Ridiculous argument. I congratulate you because it’s a new ridiculous argument, although easily disputed
Rediculous is superimposing your own views of autonomous driving on top of a press release for an electric semi engine that never mentions the topic and that is significantly substandard to existing diesel ICEs in every way and thinking somehow you’ve won the argument.
Ambrose Bierce said:
for some reason autonomous driving is being packaged with electric motor technology, while the two are separate issues. electric cars are a fraud, and losses in power generation will amplify if you add existing fossil fuel usage to the current electric grid. but more to the point the public transportation industry is already heavily invested in CNG. makes no sense to refit school buses and trash trucks while you are getting equivalent BTU costs of 1/2 that of gasoline or diesel with CNG. why not self driving CNG vehicles? reality check for a long while these vehicles will have human overseers.
Precisely. Not sure if I feel comfortable calling electric cars fraudulent but there is zero doubt in my mind, given the facts, that electric semi engines are totally impractical for the immediate (5 year) future.