Two Continents, Two Visions!

October 13 2016

You will probably recall the thunderbolt created by Daimler two years ago, in introducing its Mercedes truck that had autonomously driven along the autobahn in Germany. The self-driven truck was then at our doorstep… Following on its heels, a few months later, was a large-scale motor show at Hoover Dam in Nevada, where the self-driven Freightliner made its debut.

This year, in going to Hanover, I thought I would be transported by drone or even teleported… But I was wrong! The tone was much more down-to-earth. Oh yes, many automated trucks were presented there—trucks that will be able to be operated in autopilot mode once they reach the highway, with the truck staying well within the lines, keeping its distance from other vehicles and thereby allowing the driver to look after other tasks, because—that’s right!—there will always be a driver on board. Both Bosch and ZF launched futuristic (2026) versions of trucking and, in all cases, there was a human being there who was carrying out most of the operations, although these were made all that much easier by high-efficiency tools.

In fact, what came as a surprise to visitors at these events this year was the widespread offer of electric vehicles. ALL the manufacturers have a Class 8 electric truck model. The operating range of these vehicles is still struggling to get past the 100-km mark; however, there is a very big development in this regard and the odds are that the next versions will succeed in surprising us all, not only price-wise but also for their operating range.

During the week following the IAA show in Hanover, the annual conference and exhibition of the American Trucking Association was held in Las Vegas. Not a word was mentioned about electric trucks there. In fact, the complete focus was on self-driving (autonomous) trucks in all their forms, including driverless (automated) convoys. And yet that’s strange, because it’s the same manufacturers that were at these two events, but they were probably targeting different clienteles!

For those who may have missed the news, a very high-quality group from Autobus Lion, TM4, AddÉnergie, Solution Adetel, and Alcoa, which has set up in Québec, has teamed up on a project to make a class 8 electric truck (and smaller models as well). We have no doubts about their success!