Trucking veteran Navistar International Corp. says it will launch more electric trucks on the roads than Tesla by 2025. In a statement to Trucks.com, Navistar CEO Troy Clarke declared that his firm’s electric trucks would outnumber the Tesla Semi on the roads, and cites the company’s experience as reason for its future success.
In a lot of ways, Clarke’s words towards its Elon Musk-led rival are not empty. Navistar, after all, commands a pretty large part of the trucking industry, with the brand holding 11 percent of the market in the Class 8 segment, the heaviest weight classification in the business. According to the Navistar CEO, it would be quite easy for the trucking veteran to eclipse the Tesla Semi because the firm has a lot of experience and a solid, proven reputation.
“Customers know us, and they know that when we give them a truck, it gives them a guarantee that this truck is going to serve their needs, because we understand how our customers make money.”
Quite interestingly, Navistar, just like Tesla, has not started manufacturing its electric big rigs yet. The CEO did state, however, that the veteran firm’s electric truck will be ready for a roll-out sometime in late 2019 or early 2020.
In order to bring its electric truck to life, Navistar would be collaborating with Volkswagen Truck & Bus, which is also an established, formidable presence in the long-haul industry. VW Truck & Bus currently owns 17 percent of Navistar, which allows both firms to work together on vehicle development and design, from the exterior to the motors of the upcoming truck.
While it seems quite ironic to see Navistar, which does not have an electric truck yet, challenge the Tesla Semi, Stephens Inc. transport analyst Brad Delco believes that the veteran truckmaker is well grounded in its declaration. According to the analyst, it all comes down to dealerships and service centers available to customers — something that Tesla is still in the process of achieving.
“(Navistar) has an established network of dealers nationwide to service the product… With established brands such as International, Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Freightliner, if something goes astray, those trucks get pulled into their dealerships to get fixed immediately, particularly when under warranty.”
Despite these reservations, however, Tesla continues to grow at a rate that is nigh-unprecedented in the auto industry. UPS has recently become the largest Tesla Semi customer to date, putting in 125 pre-orders and joining other large fleet owners such as PepsiCo, J.B. Hunt, Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, and Sysco with semi-truck reservations.
While Tesla might not have the infrastructure to rival legacy trucking firms such as Navistar head-on currently, the California-based electric carmaker has the advantage of momentum. Thus, it might only be a matter of time before Tesla catches up to the most formidable brands in the auto industry.
Apart from this, the Tesla Semi is also designed with quality and durability in mind, with CEO Elon Musk emphasizing that the massive vehicles would come with a 1 million-mile warranty. Coupled with a drivetrain that’s powered by four electric motors and Tesla’s formidable software suite that will allow for Convoy Mode, the Silicon Valley-based carmaker’s lack of facilities across the nation might ultimately end up as a non-issue.