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Tesla Semi Could Unseat Daimler Freightliner as King of Class 8 Trucks

by Claribelle Deveza February 10, 2020

Tesla-Semi-vs-Daimler-eCascadia

The Tesla Semi will need to challenge the current king of Class 8 freighters, Daimler, and its formidable lineup of long-haul trucks to get a multi-billion dollar piece of the heavy-duty trucking market. The parent company of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) currently dominates the Class 8 trucking market in the United States and holds no delusions about sustainable energy vehicles either. Due to Daimler’s top position in the trucking market, its competition with the Tesla Semi is inevitable. 

With Model Y production starting to ramp and the all-electric crossover SUV’s delivery imminent, the Tesla Semi will soon be up for release, specifically later this year. There have been multiple sightings of the Tesla Semi on the road already. The anticipation for Tesla’s Class 8 e-truck has been building since its unveiling in 2017. 

Tesla-Semi-battery

Credit: Tesla

Now there are whispers that Tesla has improved the Semi’s battery cells, making it an even more formidable foe for the king of freighters. The Semi has some fierce competition coming when it enters the market, including the Nikola Tre and Volvo’s VNR Electric, but Daimler will be its main challenger in the Class 8 trucking market. 

Daimler currently holds close to 40% of the trucking market in the United States, which amounts to about $39 billion. Its subsidiary DTNA owns the Freightliner brand, which continues to dominate the Class 8 market. In December 2019, Freighliner held a share of 36.5% of the heavy-duty market with year-to-date growth of around 0.2 percent. In simpler terms, Freightliner’s Class 8 vehicles account for one in every three heavy-duty trucks in the United States, explained Statista.

DTNA has made preparations to keep its hold on the trucking market with its all-electric Class 8 truck, the eCascadia, and its medium-duty sibling, the eM2. So, Freightliner’s e-trucks will likely go head-to-head with the Semi’s 500-mile and 300-mile variants. 

Daimler-Freightliner-eCascadia

Credit: Daimler

However, Tesla has a few trump cards in its pocket which might give it an edge over Daimler’s Freightliner series. When President and CEO of Roger Nielsen unveiled DTNA’s Freightliner eCascadia and eM2, he said:

“We have decades of experience in successfully producing durable commercial vehicles in high volumes that stand up to the demands our customers place on them. We now bring this unmatched experience and expertise to the electric truck category.” 

There is no denying that Freightliner knows just about everything about Class 8 trucks. However, the verdict is still out on Freightliner’s knowledge of electric vehicles, which gives the Tesla Semi a fighting chance in the new energy trucking market. 

As a car company that focuses mainly on all-electric vehicles, Tesla has quite a few advantages in the EV trucking industry, namely: 

  • Autonomy
  • Batteries
  • Charging Network
  • Manufacturing Scale
  • Tesla's Business Model
  • One ultimate trump card, specifically against DTNA’s Freightliner

Daimler has also focused on autonomous driving for its e-trucks to solve one significant problem the entire trucking market is currently facing. As for batteries and charging networks, Tesla has a strong lead in the EV market with regards to those two points. Daimler will have to move fast to catch up to Tesla's batteries and charging network.

Daimler will also have to consider that scaling e-truck production might not be the same as scaling fossil-fuel dependent trucks. It will also have to contend with Tesla's direct business model. The Elon Musk-led company also one more ultimate trump card that might give it an advantage over Freightliner's e-truck specifically. Each of the trump cards will be discussed further in a following article. 

Featured Image Credit: @TCI_Leasing/Twitter and Daimler




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