Daimler AG is jumping the gun on Tesla Inc. by showing off a battery-powered heavy-duty truck weeks before the California electric-carmaker’s own planned unveiling, in a sign of the growing rivalry between the companies.
The E-Fuso Vision One prototype can carry 11 tons of cargo as far as 220 miles before recharging, the world’s largest maker of commercial vehicles said Wednesday in a statement. The truck, which would be geared to shorter intra-city trips, could go on sale within four years in Europe, Japan and the U.S.
The truck is part of plans by Daimler’s Fuso brand to add electric and hybrid options across its range of trucks and buses. The announcement steals a march on Tesla, which plans to show off a concept truck on Nov. 16. CEO Elon Musk engaged in a Twitter tussle with Daimler, a former Tesla shareholder, about electric-vehicle spending last month. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz is also ramping up a line of battery-powered luxury cars to challenge Tesla models.
The E-Fuso underlines the brand’s position as “the frontrunner in electric trucking,” Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler said in the statement during the Tokyo Motor Show. Fuso last month presented the eCanter, a short-range light-duty hauler for urban deliveries.
Tesla’s Model S has been taking market share from Mercedes’s flagship S-Class sedan, and plans by the California upstart to broaden its lineup steps up competition between the former partners. Tesla, which has delayed its truck’s unveiling to November from September, has said its hauler will drive as far as 300 miles on a single charge. The company plans to add a pick-up as well.
The E-Fuso’s load capacity will be two tons less than a comparable diesel model to accommodate the weight of the 300-kilowatt battery packs, the company said. The model “underlines our commitment to electrify our entire product range,” Marc Llistosella, who heads Daimler’s Asia truck unit, said in the statement.
by Elisabeth Behrmann