VW-owned Navistar begins autonomous trucking pilot

Credit: Navistar

A subsidiary of Volkswagen-owned Traton, Navistar, has officially launched an autonomous trucking pilot program, in partnership with technology company Plus.

Navistar announced the news in a press release on Tuesday, saying that the partnership with Plus to use its Level 4 autonomous SuperDrive technology stack into both its International brand and others. The company says Internation trucks featuring SuperDrive by Plus are already being validated in certain parts of Texas, and the companies expect customer pilots to begin within a year.

“Our autonomous commercial pilot program is intended to be a safe, reliable option for customers to explore the deployment and integration of autonomous vehicles into their operations,” said Chet Ciesielski, Navistar’s Vice President of On-Highway Business. “As always, we are committed to being a trusted partner as we seek to develop solutions for autonomous driving technology that increase our customers’ operating efficiencies, improve road safety, and alleviate strains in the supply chain.”

The company says it plans to incrementally increase its operations commercially along strategic U.S. corridors, utilizing specific hub-to-hub operations in looking at autonomous implementation. Navistar also expects it will have an addressable market of roughly 25 billion miles of freight routes on U.S. interstates.

“There is a strong business case for autonomous technology in the hub-to-hub distribution model, specifically in long-haul transportation where there’s a compelling opportunity to increase operational efficiencies,” said Tobias Glitterstam, Navistar Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer. “Global partnership with a company like Plus allows us to leverage the technical strides they have made as we work together to focus on the commercial viability of Level 4 autonomous driving.”

In 2018, former Navistar CEO Troy Clarke said that the company expected to have more electric trucks on the road than Tesla by 2025, citing its more than century-long history building semis.

While Tesla Semi updates have been somewhat dormant in the past several months, the company has been working on expansions to its Gigafactory Nevada that are expected to boost Semi production. In addition, the Tesla Semi could eventually have access to the company’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta feature, which may unlock the ability for autonomous trucking from the company.

Other companies, such as the Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, have also been piloting semi-autonomous trucking tests in limited areas, including freeways surrounding Phoenix, Arizona.

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Zachary Visconti: Zach is a renewable energy reporter who has been covering electric vehicles since 2020. He grew up in Fremont, California, and he currently resides in Colorado. His work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, KRON4 San Francisco, FOX31 Denver and many other publications. When he isn't covering Tesla or other EV companies for Teslarati, you can find him writing and performing music, drinking lots of coffee, or hanging out with his cat, Banks. Reach out to Zach at zach@teslarati.com, or you can find him on X @zacharyvisconti.
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