While everyone is focused on Tesla and their upcoming electric semi tractor, Cummins grabbed the spotlight first by rolling out their own version of what they think an electric truck will look like. The AEOS demonstrator, built by Roush, is aimed, according to Cummins, for urban delivery, port drayage, and terminal container handling. The truck has a range of around 100 miles, extendable up to 300 miles (with additional battery packs), so we’re not looking at long haul duty, but for the applications listed above, this could be ideal. Since cargo ports on the US west coast already have very strict emissions rules in place, electric trucks can shine when compared to even the cleanest diesel in those locations.
It’s important to note, Cummins doesn’t build trucks, they build the powertrain, so when these electric units are going to show up on the road depends on truck manufacturers making the decision to add them to their lineup, but this demonstrator offers a lot, like regenerative braking, aerodynamic bodywork, low rolling resistance tires and it’s equipped to import energy from solar panels on the trailer roof. Recharging takes about an hour with a 140 kWh charging station, though Cummins is aiming for 20 minutes by 2020.
It can also be set up as a REEV, a range extender electric vehicle with an engine generator for operation outside any geofenced area, making it an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle with a 600-mile range. Plus there’s real-time connectivity for Cummins over-the-air diagnostics, freight logistical information and platooning.
There’s a lot of work being done on electric powertrains for trucks and other commercial vehicles, Cummins plans to deliver systems for transit buses within the next couple of years because there is an existing demand. Short haul semis will come later, but it’s already apparent the technology is advancing quickly. Even though long haul trucking will be a more challenging environment for electric semis, it doesn’t prevent other vehicles from converting earlier.