GM and Navistar will jointly manufacture 2000 long-range hydrogen-powered trucks in direct competition with Tesla’s electric truck, the Semi, which is expected to start shipping by the end of the year. The Semi may, moreover, be Tesla’s most powerful self-driving vehicle.
GM recently announced a partnership with truck manufacturer Navistar International to produce 2000 electric trucks, which use hydrogen fuel batteries as a power source, with a maximum driving range of more than 500 miles (about 800 km) and a 15-minute charging time.
In this project, the trucks in question will feature two sets of GM-designed “hydrogen fuel battery power squares”, with each set containing 300 battery cells as the power source. GM has picked renewable energy startup OneH2 as the supplier of choice to refuel these trucks.
Of course, this collaboration reminds one of GM’s previous partnership with Nikola. To this day, no one knows whether Nikola’s hydrogen-powered trucks will materialize. At any rate, GM has already found its perfect monkey branch in Navistar and indicated that this new collaboration is neither related to nor set to impact its other collaborations. In other words, GM wants its investors to rest assured that the company will in any case manufacture trucks.
Compared to Nikola, whose technology appears miraculous and unbelievable in nature, Navistar’s car is much more reasonable. In addition to an energy storage unit, Navistar will also equip additional li-ion batteries in order to raise the maximum output of the vehicle’s engine, while possibly regenerating the battery through the internal mechanism’s movement as kinetic energy in order to extend its driving range.
GM once claimed to have terminated its development of hydrogen fuel batteries, but that was in the context of passenger vehicles as opposed to commercial vehicles.
Their target is none other than Tesla’s long-range truck, the Semi. Although Musk’s claims regarding the Semi, stats/specs-wise, are equally as ludicrous as what Nikola claimed about their own offerings, Tesla’s recent track record lends some credence to Musk’s claims. In addition to its 800 km driving range, the Tesla Semi can go from zero to 100 (that is, 100 km) in about 20 seconds, even with a full load.
More importantly, in the latest earnings conference, which only recently concluded, Musk indicated that Tesla will start manufacturing the Tesla Semi on a small scale at the end of this year, most likely to be outfitted with the newest 4680 batteries, which will enable a driving range of up to 1,000 km. Furthermore, these batteries will result in an even lower selling price for the Semi. However, as the battery supply is limited, Tesla is unable to immediately fulfill all Semi orders.
Walmart, DHL, FedEx, UPS, and Pepsi are all clients who have already placed orders for the Tesla Semi. These orders total about 2000 vehicles. Initially, the down payment was US$5,000 per vehicle, but this was later increased to $20,000 at the end of 2017.
Musk also indicated that the Semi will be the first vehicle out of Tesla’s entire lineup to possess Level 4 self-driving ability. This makes sense, as long-range trucks generally operate on straightforward and fixed routes. As such, L4 self-driving capabilities can massive reduce the truck driver’s load and potentially mitigate fatigue-induced accidents. Of course, this will require a lot of work before coming to fruition.
According to a report from InsideEVs, Musk is quoted as saying “it needs to know its limitations being a giant truck” and “there are turns that you could do in a regular car that you cannot do in a Semi.” This issue represents further room for improvement for the FSD.
Electric trucks are a huge business, especially now that Biden has assumed presidency and enacted stricter emission standards. This, combined with a push for using domestically produced goods as well as adopting an all-electric government fleet, means that the landscape of U.S. large electric trucks has now dwindled down to only four competitors, including GM, Lion, Kenworth, and Tesla (excluding Nikola). Of the four, only GM is using hydrogen battery solutions, which may be the key to its victory.
However, GM and its relatively pragmatic partner Navistar also both claimed that these new trucks will not stand a chance at even having a glimpse at road tests until at least 2022 at the earliest, meaning that only until 2024 will the possibility of officially being available for sale eventuate.