Dive Brief:

  • Kenworth launched its first battery-electric Class 8 model, the Kenworth T680E, according to a company announcement on Wednesday. The model is available to order in the United States and Canada. It will enter into production in 2021, officials from parent company Paccar said.
  • The zero-emission Kenworth T680E has an estimated operating range of 150 miles and an estimated 3.3-hour charging time, the OEM said.
  • Kenworth’s announcement comes as British research firm IDTechEx estimates the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a 17% YoY drop in electric-vehicle sales globally, across the range of types, from cars to trucks.

Dive Insight:

The EV market in the United States and globally is picking up, but it could take time before large-scale adoption in the carrier industry occurs. By 2041, electric vehicles across land, sea and air will make up a market of $2.3 trillion, according to IDTechEx.

The report says the pandemic slowed electric-vehicle sales globally. In 2019, 29 million electric vehicles, from two-wheelers (popular in China) to cars and trucks were sold. The majority of those EVs were two-wheeled vehicles, followed by cars.

While the drop is mainly representative of consumer-driven markets, electric truck sales are guided by other forces, such as emissions regulations and corporate-social responsibility efforts. Kenworth has joined other OEMs in those quests, making the move into Class 8 electric trucks as competing OEMs are rushing to announce plans, even if they are not ready to start production.

It won’t just be OEMs competing. Green ideas will also be competing.

Battery-electric trucks, the preferred method of Daimler Trucks, North America’s largest truck maker, will compete with fuel-cell electric trucks, especially ones made by Nikola, Toyota-Hino, and Hyundai. Hyliion is also selling a hybrid diesel system that can be installed on most major Class 8 commercial vehicles, making it is “brand agnostic.” And Hyliion also makes a kit for trucks that uses renewable natural gas to create enough electricity to power the tractor.

In April 2019, Kenworth and Toyota announced a plan to put 10 heavy-duty trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells on the roads of California. The trucks would service the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. The two truck makers unveiled the first of Toyota and Kenworth’s jointly developed fuel-cell electric heavy-duty trucks at a port event in April 2019, according to a Toyota press release.

The fuel-cell trucks have an estimated range of more than 300 miles per fill, twice that of a typical drayage trucks’ average daily duty cycle, Toyota and Kenworth officials said.

Kenworth also makes Class 6 and Class 7 battery-electric trucks available for order now. Kenworth markets the smaller trucks as ways to meet increasingly stringent urban regulations on noise and emissions.