Yet another truck has entered the race to be the first electric semi to market. Alongside Tesla, Daimler, Cummins, and others, the Thor Semi Truck has thrown its hat into the ring. The brand-new company is a scrappy startup with intentions to do things differently. Thor Trucks plans to hit the ground running by using its own technology with off-the-shelf parts to roll electric trucks off the assembly line sooner than the competition. The Thor Semi Truck could very well beat Tesla to market. However, the companies aren’t necessarily bringing the same truck to the table.
Competing with Elon Musk and other big names in the automotive industry wasn’t Dakota Semler’s motivation for creating the Thor Semi Truck. Instead, Semler, a vintner, needed his vineyard’s fleet to meet California’s new, stricter air quality standards. Because he couldn’t find an affordable option for switching to electric trucks, he decided to do it himself. He partnered with Giordano Sordoni, a venture capitalist and consultant, and they got help from top engineers. The result is an electric semi that is inexpensive and fairly simple to produce. The plan is to use the battery technology they had developed and team up with current truck manufacturers to build Thor Semi Trucks. Going that route, Thor Trucks can start building without constructing a plant first. That means manufacturing can begin around 2019 and the Thor Semi Truck could hit the market ahead of everyone else.
Thor Semi Truck Specs
A Thor Semi Truck looks as futuristic on the outside as Tesla’s semi. Plus, it sports a cool Avengers-style logo on the grille. The interior of the cab resembles a typical heavy-duty truck more than a spaceship. There are two seats, a steering wheel, and a console, but the gears and parking brake are operated by pushing buttons rather than shifting a gearstick.
Semler and Giordano take pride in having consulted fleet managers and drivers when designing their vehicles. All the components are Tier 1. There are massive battery packs located under the skirts on each side of the chassis. What’s more, since Thor Trucks plans to use familiar, ready-made parts such as Dana axles and TM4 motors, downtime is supposed to be minimal, and repairs and maintenance are expected to be simple and reasonably priced. Other great features include:
- zero emissions for 100 percent effortless compliance
- semi-autonomous safety systems onboard
- regenerative braking
- navigation systems
Plus, between the inexpensive maintenance and the fuel savings, a Thor Semi Truck will be around 60 percent cheaper to drive than a traditional semi.
Thor Trucks hasn’t released all the info on their electric semi, however. Some features the first models may or may not have include exterior cameras and fleet management software.
All the bells and whistles might look exciting, but performance is, well, where the rubber meets the road, right? The promising news is that the Thor Semi Truck is expected to keep up with other electric semis, in general. Because it’s all electric, full torque starts at 0 RPM, meaning it will get up and go PDQ. A full charge will take you up to 300 miles. Also, Thor Trucks promises that their heavy-duty semis will be able to haul a full 80,000 lb load.
Can Thor Compete With the Big Boys?
Most of Thor’s features–including the $150,000 price tag–sound a lot like other electric semis set to start rolling out soon. However, there are a few differences. First, the company is focusing on day-use vehicles, not long-haulers. Thor says a full charge will go up to 300 miles, but the reality is the basic model only has a 100-mile range. If you want the extra miles, it will cost an extra $100,000.
The price alone would seem to take Thor out of the running compared to what Tesla, Daimler, and others plan to bring out. However, the key is that Thor Trucks doesn’t want to go head-to-head in the long-haul market. They’re concentrating on business from companies like UPS whose trucks deliver in areas where a 100-mile range will suffice. What’s more, Thor plans on selling conversion packages. The kits would allow existing trucks to be altered without the expense of buying a whole new fleet. If they can secure those two niches and beat the big boys to market, the Thor Semi Truck could be a superhero in the heavy-duty industry.
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