It isn’t just the automotive industry that’s planning a big shift into electric vehicles, but also the commercial trucking sector as well. In the future, we will see autonomous driving features, electrification and increased connectivity. While we aren’t quite there yet, there are some commercial trucks of tomorrow you should be on the lookout for – and some are closer than you think.
1. Walmart’s WAVE Concept Truck
Back in 2014, the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, otherwise known as WAVE, made its debut. This semi featured a micro-turbine engine running on natural gas, a sharp convex splitter nose plus a 53-foot trailer constructed out of carbon fiber.
Peterbilt collaborated on this project, so you know it’s been well-constructed. Inside the cabin, the WAVE features a 180-degree rotational center-mounted driver’s seat and touchscreen gauge pods. Whether or not we’ll ever see a production model of this semi is uncertain as of right now, but we’d love to see these on the road for eye candy alone.
2. Nikola One
The Nikola One was inspired by Tesla in both name and function. It’s an 18-wheeler that features a 320-kWh battery and hydrogen fuel cell generator. This allows it to have a 1,200-mile range on a single charge and virtually zero emissions.
The most significant edge this truck has is its lower weight. In fact, it’s estimated to weigh about 3,000 pounds less than a typical diesel semi. On top of that, the company expects that this truck can maintain a 65 mph speed with an 80,000-pound load while driving a 6% grade. That’s pretty impressive considering the drivetrain and range.
The first Nikola One trucks are scheduled to be delivered in 2020, and Anheuser-Busch has already ordered 800 of them.
3. Tesla Semi
In the race to bring new electric vehicles to market, the real Tesla plans to release their semi-truck shortly. This heavy-duty electric truck was designed with the help of Jerome Guillen. If you don’t know the name, he was a Daimler executive who worked on their Canadian truck projects.
The Tesla Semi is set to have an automatic tire inflation system and a one-million-mile drivetrain guarantee. What’s most ironic is that Nikola sued Tesla back in 2018 over patent infringement; they are seeking $2 billion in damages. Even still, the Tesla semi has been spotted on the road during testing and is one of the most impressive commercial trucks of tomorrow to watch for.
4. Alfa Romeo Semi
It’s important to note that the Alfa Romeo semi-truck isn’t a real thing, but it needed to be added to the list anyway. A Korean artist rendered a design that he though Alfa Romeo should consider and it’s caught on like wildfire. While the company may never decide to take on the project, we wholeheartedly think they should. I mean, just look at it!
It features the iconic Alfa Romeo design, sultry curves and true Italian styling. Considering it comes in red, we could see companies like Coca-Cola using it to transport their drinks. We just aren’t sure they would be willing to pay the price this luxury semi would undoubtedly be asking.
5. Daimler eCascadia
Back in the realm of reality, Daimler is one of the world’s biggest truck manufacturers. That makes it fair to say that they feel pressure to produce some of the commercial trucks of tomorrow. One of their semis to eventually make it to market will be the eCascadia.
We’ve already seen the FUSO eCanter, which is a smaller electric truck for urban transport. The bigger eCascadia truck in the works features a 550 kWh battery pack plus a 250-mile range. It’s nice to see Daimler (as Freightliner) building an electric semi so quickly, and they aren’t the only big name getting in on the action.
6. Ford F-Vision
Ford wants to compete with the Tesla and Daimler semis as well. This self-driving semi is slotted to be the future of commercial trucking. Ford wants to use this level-4 autonomous vehicle to drive unassisted most of the time.
In the design of the Ford F-Vision, you have mirrorless side mounts for cameras, an aerodynamic construction, large C-shaped LED headlights, and a visor-like wraparound windshield. In addition, the lower portion of the truck lights up in various multicolor patterns. What we like best about this model is the backlit logo that replaces the old Ford oval. Could we see that on other Ford vehicles in the near future?
7. Volvo Vera Autonomous Truck
Volvo released this long-haul truck concept to stay active in the semi-truck market. This autonomous truck doesn’t have a driver’s cab at all. Instead, it looks like someone slapped a battery pack on top of some wheels or cut the head off a snake.
This semi pulls up to 32 tons and can be attached to a standard trailer. The reason that Volvo named this the Vera Autonomous Truck was because the name “Vera” stands for the company’s faith in the future.
We can’t imagine this truck would be particularly aerodynamic, but we’ll take Volvo’s word that it will work.
Commercial Trucks of Tomorrow: Technologies Coming Soon
Commercial truck companies are busy producing the latest and greatest technology for their future semis. Here are some advancements being perfected as we speak that will change the logistics industry. Combine them all to get a glimpse of what our future roadways may look like.
Connectivity and sensor technology make it possible for trucks to connect to their surroundings unlike ever before. Digital linking devices like GPS will help connect the truck to distribution centers, roads and repair shops. This also provides real-time updates regarding accidents and delays.
With V2V communication, accidents are prevented before they even happen. The technology also helps to save fuel by helping the truck regulate speed based on what’s happening down the road.
While companies can currently track their commercial trucks through GPS, remote diagnostic technology continues to advance quickly. It’s now possible to know the status of the truck’s condition and maintenance requirements remotely, predicting these needs before the time comes.
Fully autonomous driving
This might be the coolest, yet slightly most frightening innovation we’ve seen recently. We’ve seen lots of tests from Uber with their autonomous driving technology, but semi-truck manufacturers want to use it for deliveries as well. If perfected, fully autonomous semis could help save money and increase road safety. In addition, drivers riding in the vehicle could perform other administrative tasks while on the road, making drivers more productive as a result.
Commercial Trucks of Tomorrow are Right Around the Corner
The wait is just about over. All the innovations and high-tech features you thought would take years to produce are already in the works, and we should be seeing many of these technologies – and many of these stunning semis – very soon. Who do you think will be the leader in the electric commercial truck industry? We would love to hear your thoughts!
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