When Elon Musk revealed that Tesla is planning to produce an all-electric commercial vehicle platform called “Tesla Semi,” it came as quite a surprise to a lot of people. That’s because it seemed virtually no one else was thinking about electric semi trucks.
Turns out, though, Mercedes-Benz has been hotly engineering a semi truck EV for some time. To underscore that fact, it unveiled its Urban eTruck concept.
As it sits, the eTruck has a range of around 124 miles per charge. And it has a load capacity comparable to current diesel-powered semis — around 26 tons. If that weren’t impressive enough, lighter-duty all-electric Daimler (Mercedes’ parent company) trucks are currently undergoing customer trials.
Now, if you’re scoffing at the relatively low range of the eTruck compared to a Tesla Model S, Model X or even a Chevy Bolt EV, don’t be too skeptical. Remember, weight and aerodynamics are the two biggest hurdles facing long-range EVs — and semi trucks have those in spades. So, to get a truck that can haul 26,000 pounds and go 124 miles is nothing to sneeze at.
What’s more, while the Tesla Semi is a long way off, Mercedes says a production version of the eTruck, which would be ideal for “short-radius distribution,” could be possible sometime in the early 2020s.
That might be just perfectly aligned with Mercedes’ autonomous trucks that it’s been teasing for a while now. Imagine a world where semis are both silent and self-driving. That’d make living freeway adjacent a lot more enjoyable.