If you care enough about semi trucks to click on this blog, you might be tired of electric cars. Or, if you care enough about electric cars to click on this blog, you might be tired of diesel big rigs. Either way, there's a new Canadian company called Edison that's building its own battery-powered workhorse a lot differently from Tesla. Its wheels are driven solely by electric motors, but there's a 9.3-liter Caterpillar diesel under the hood that keeps the batteries charged and the trailer rolling. It's pretty smart, and as you can see here, the prototype can move 100,000 pounds without a problem.
There's a constant debate online over whether this is an electric truck or a hybrid, but I'm not here to settle that. Instead, let's just focus on the fundamentals. Edison co-founders Chace Barber and Eric Little actually ordered a Tesla Semi in 2017, but after four years of waiting, they decided to build their own future-proof heavy-duty machine. While they also make a living by swapping electrified powertrains into used logging trucks, the Edison L-Series is billed as their flagship product.
The scratch-built semi will be offered in two specs—the L500, which has two drive axles, and the L750, which has three. Power scales up with each drive axle, so the base truck offers 670 horsepower while the top dog makes 1,005 hp. The Caterpillar engine powers a Danfoss T2000 generator, which sends AC juice to the inverters that are mounted behind the cab in the headache rack. From there, DC current flows to the direct-drive motors at each rear axle.
The standard level battery pack offers 175 kilowatt-hours of capacity while the step up provides 280 kilowatt-hours. No matter which you choose, the huge electrical slab rides on air suspension and receives charge as needed from the generator. See, the diesel engine operates at a constant rpm when engaged so fuel consumption is consistent and not directly correlated with power demand.
Clearly, Barber and Little are smarter than the average Joe when it comes to powertrain systems. They've progressed to the working prototype stage in pretty much no time and it's gaining the respect of truckers who see the writing on the wall but aren't yet ready to rely totally on batteries. The duo understand the importance of simplicity and even plan to include a parts list with every truck showing each component along with its corresponding part number. What's more, they use Grade 8 hardware that can be turned with a wrench rather than huck bolts that you need a torch to remove. Serviceability is key.
Deboss Garage's latest YouTube video that features the L500 pulling a Sherman tank around the lot has a lot of people talking. You can see the "100,580" reading that flashes on the scale screen, proving this is no light load. Edison claims a GVWR of 143,300+ pounds (65,000 kg) so theoretically, there's still room to go.
Edison wants to sell these for all kinds of applications, both highway and off-road. Right now, logging seems to be the most relevant use case for potential customers in the manufacturer's native Canada. The plan is to offer them with twin- and tri-steer options as well as a power steer e-axle, meaning eight-wheel drive.
I'm excited to see where it goes because, at this moment, North America's infrastructure just isn't ready for fleets of electric semi-trucks. This feels like the perfect middle ground until then, and as the charging situation improves, Edison plans to sell totally electric rigs as well.
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