Watch out Nikola and Tesla, a new electric semi-truck could disrupt the heavy-hauling industry. Triton-EV, a subsidiary of Triton Solar, has built a fully electric prototype big-rig, one that features some clever powertrain engineering.
Going toe-to-toe with traditional, diesel-powered 18-wheelers, Triton-EV's new truck can supposedly tow up to 220,000 pounds. This means companies would not have to sacrifice any capability by going with this all-electric machine over more traditional offerings.
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Delivering that impressive performance, this truck features a hybrid powertrain, though it's probably not the sort of hybrid you're thinking of. Triton-EV's rig operates electrically, having a motor and a load of onboard batteries, however, a hydrogen fuel-cell generator is also included. It operates as a range-extender, pumping electrons back into the vehicle's batteries as required.
In heavy trucks like this, lot of other companies are either going the pure-electric route or opting for fuel-cell powertrains. But the trouble with the latter powertrain solution, at least according to Triton-EV, is that, in addition to limited hydrogen availability, it's not particularly energy-dense, struggling to generate enough torque to move loads less than half as heavy as what today's internal-combustion-powered 18-wheelers can handle. By going with an electric drivetrain in an application like this, you get plenty of giddy-up for decent acceleration, and the hydrogen fuel-cell is ready and waiting to help keep the batteries juiced. All in, this new semi-truck is estimated to offer a driving range of around 300 miles.
Triton-EV built this running, driving semi-truck in just 35 days, a speed that may be a more impressive feat than the vehicle itself. Yep, it took scarcely more than a month and used its own funds.
Triton-EV folks were able to achieve this goal by sourcing the chassis, frame and other major components from other companies. That makes sense: You can't design, engineer and manufacture something like this from scratch in a month. Vehicle development can cost billions of dollars and take many years to complete.
It's unclear if or even when this new, electrified big-rig might go on sale, though Triton-EV is exploring partnership opportunities. Naturally, pricing is just as up in the air, though it would likely cost anywhere between $150,000 and $250,000.
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