Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla vs. Daimler: Diesel Truck Takeover

As the push moves stronger in the direction toward electric vehicle technology, the race for electric-powered commercial trucking transportation heats up. Eventually, electric semis will take over our heavy-duty diesel trucks. Who will dominate the market? Daimler or Tesla? For now, it’s looking like a tossup: Tesla vs. Daimler. Whose electric tech will take over the diesel truck area first?

What is a heavy duty truck?

Vehicles like Ford F-350 pickup trucks, Silverado 3500, and Ram 3500 pickup trucks are often badged ‘Heavy Duty’ or simply ‘HD.’ However, these trucks are, in fact, light duty pickup trucks. According to Diesel Hub, there are 8 on-highway truck classifications.

Ford F-350 diesel truck at the work site
Ford F-350 Super Duty | Ford

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The first three classifications include the common pickup truck all the way up to the Ford F-450. However, the Ford F-450 chassis cab along with the Ram 4500 are both in the next class up, as well. The next few classes move the badging. There are the F-550 and the 5500 trucks, the F-650, and F-750 diesel trucks. The highest level of classification is class 8.

Class 8 trucks are the only trucks that are officially considered heavy duty. This class includes tractor-trailer semi-trucks. The only truck on the road that is actually classified as heavy-duty is a classic semi tractor-trailer rig.

Semi-trucks fill up with fuel
Semi-trucks fill up with fuel | PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images

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Tesla vs. Daimler

Daimler once owned Tesla shares, which the company sold in 2014. Today, as Tesla shares continue on their upward trend, Daimler’s market position with Tesla might sting a bit. According to this Bloomberg article, if Daimler still owned the Tesla shares it sold they would account for $7.3 billion on the current market.

Still, Daimler continues to manage itself with tact through the difficulties of 2020. Mercedes car sales were actually higher this June than they were in 2019. So where do semi-trucks come into play here? What about commercial trucking?

this Daimler electric semi truck is parked with its logos visible
Daimler eM2 | Daimler

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Diesel truck takeover

In the Tesla vs. Daimler race to see who controls the electric commercial transportation sector, it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top. Obviously, it’s a global industry. There are a wide range of factors to control. From shipping containers, to software, to charging, to production of long range batteries, to draining the grid: everything will matter.

This recent Barron’s article briefly discusses Daimler’s new partnership with Nvidia to create the “world’s first software-defined vehicles.” We can only assume that this will envelop the development of diesel truck replacements. Semi-trucks of the future are here, as we’ve seen from both Daimler and Tesla.

This is a rendering of a silver Tesla Semi tractor trailer using EV technology on a mountain pass.
Rendering of a silver Tesla Semi | Tesla

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Technology defines progress

As new commercial trucking vehicles enter various stages of development, the technology they use is an important factor. The production of both software and vehicles that integrate the commercial trucking industry have to be enough. The technology has to be compelling.

For decades now, the diesel truck tractor-trailer semi configuration has been the industry’s go-to. A push to switch over to electric means the development of infrastructure such as charging. The technology has to be widely accessible to enable a range long enough for a true take over. But who will it be in the end? Which logo are we going to see on all these upcoming tractor-trailers? Tesla or Daimler?