ETruck Sees Hybrid-Converted Semis Arriving by End of 2024

Powertrains Replace Diesel Engines on Existing Freightliner Trucks
Used Freightliner lineup
Used Freightliner trucks. ETruck chose Freightliner trucks for both the Class 6 and Class 8 options because there were so many in the market. (SelecTrucks via Facebook)

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ETruck Transportation expects to begin producing powertrains that turn Class 8 diesel trucks into hybrid battery-electric vehicles by the end of 2024, according to a senior executive.

The powertrain systems are already available for order, and eTruck plans to start commercial production by the end of the year, company President Russell Knudsen told Transport Topics.

Omaha, Neb.-based eTruck currently offers an option for a Class 6 retrofitted battery-electric truck, with 23 powertrains sold so far, said Knudsen, whose wife, Judith Knudsen, is the CEO of the family-owned company.

Previously, the Knudsens owned Rage Exotic Vehicles, an exotic vehicle designer and manufacturer. Before that, Russ Knudsen was president of Knudsen Automotive, which designed specially prepared vehicles for television series and movies, such as “Miami Vice” and for manufacturers including General Motors.

The target audience is much larger for eTruck, with Knudsen telling TT the company was offering a solution any fleet could buy into.

ETruck graphic

Planned eTruck Transportation hybrid semi. (eTruck Transportation)

An electric drive system replaces the diesel engine for the company’s Class 6 truck, leaving the transmission and driveshaft in place. An electric motor is attached to the transmission, battery packs are bolted on the outside of the frame rails, and a control system is installed in the truck.

With the retrofitted Class 8 hybrid truck, the electric motor and battery packs remain, but a small diesel engine is added, with a range extension option available that involves a gasoline-powered generator for recharging the batteries, said Knudsen.

“It is very simple. That is one of the things that is going to make this very popular,” said Knudsen, adding: “We don’t have any competition, and we’re not competing with anyone else. Someone that wants a new truck is going to buy a new truck. But for someone who can’t afford that, we can offer them three for the price of one new truck.”


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Rolls-Royce is set to supply the small, twin-turbo turbocharged diesel engine for the hybrid truck, and Siemens will supply recharging system components. Knudsen said eTruck is still in negotiations with battery suppliers.

Talks with battery suppliers are taking time, he said, adding: “They are not used to taking our volume. They’re not taking those volumes with their existing customers.”

ETruck has not patented its product suite, he said, because if a component is being copied, then it is that of a billion-dollar corporation.

The powertrains will have a 500,000-mile warranty, and the weight will not change compared with the pre-owned diesel truck, Knudsen said.

Customers for eTruck’s powertrain will either own the truck already or buy a used truck, and the economics are improving because second-hand truck prices are slumping, Knudsen said.

The used Class 8 truck average retail sales price fell 17.3% year-over-year in April to $58,869 from $71,205, and 1.9% from $59,987 the prior month, according to the most recent ACT Research data.

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ETruck has 14 facilities that will carry out installation of the powertrain for the Class 6 product. It expects larger customers to carry out the work with their own technicians, with Knudsen saying it is up to the customers how they want to retrofit the trucks. ETruck is happy to train the technicians, he added.

Knudsen said eTruck chose Freightliner trucks for both the Class 6 and Class 8 options because there were so many in the market. That ubiquity is why eTruck expects to expand quickly.

ETruck has five employees, but the company expects to have 500 employees within two years. Also, it has a 30,000-square-foot facility that it plans to expand to 300,000 square feet within a couple of years.