Launching Startup Merger Partners Eye Class 8 truck by 2027
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Proposed merger partners ElectraMeccanica and Tevva plan to launch a Class 8 hydrogen-electric hybrid truck in the United States in 2027, said Susan Docherty, CEO of ElectraMeccanica.
The 19-ton, or 42,560-pound, truck will be built in Mesa, Arizona, at ElectraMeccanica’s existing 235,000-square-foot facility, and will evolve from a 7.5-ton truck currently manufactured by UK-based Tevva.
Deliveries of the 7.5-tonne Tevva battery-electric truck began earlier in 2023 in the UK, and the larger model will have three hydrogen tanks to extend the vehicle’s range.
The current model uses an Iveco cab and chassis. The partners will look for U.S. suppliers of cabs and bodies for the glider trucks, Docherty told Transport Topics, adding that the pool of potential candidates is large.
Docherty also finds a growing range of components and hydrogen suppliers attractive. Arizona is attracting a lot of suppliers, and there will be more by the time the company starts production, she said. “The hydrogen market will be more mature by the time ElectraMeccanica’s dual-fuel trucks reach the market,” she also said.
Before launching the 19-tonne truck in the US, the partners – which revealed plans for the merger on August 15 – expect to begin deliveries in the UK and mainland Europe in late 2026, it said.
Docherty, who has held her position since December 2022, said manufacturing of the 7.5-ton truck is scheduled to begin in the United States in late 2025 or 2026. Docherty previously spent three decades with General Motors, including launching the Chevy Volt in Europe.
The Mesa plant will not need to be retooled to produce the smaller model and then the larger model, Docherty said.
Tevva manufactures the smaller 7.5-tonne truck at a factory in south-east England. In 2024, the company will begin offering left- and right-hand drive models in the UK and in continental Europe. Road testing of the current model began in 2017 in the United Kingdom
England-based Tevva’s total cost of ownership for its current product is slightly lower than that of its UK diesel rivals, Docherty said, adding that UK fleet owners have been attracted to lower maintenance costs, lower energy costs and less driver fatigue.
The company’s clients include Amazon, construction industry supplier Travis Perkins and the US Postal Service’s UK equivalent, Royal Mail.
Tevva already had ambitions to build a manufacturing plant in its home country and in continental Europe and the United States before the proposed merger, Docherty said, adding that its management team also wanted to go public.
The planned 19-ton truck is from Tevva and ElectraMeccanica. Note the batteries in yellow and the hydrogen tanks in black. (tiffa)
ElectraMeccanica teamed up with Tevva after the Burnaby, British Columbia-headquartered company’s original electric vehicle plans fell through. Previously, ElectraMeccanica focused on a compact, single-seat, two-door, three-wheeled electric vehicle – the Solo.
The Solo is manufactured under contract in China. ElectraMeccanica wanted to move manufacturing to Mesa from China. Docherty said ElectraMeccanica was unable to make the Solo economically viable when manufacturing was mostly in China due to very high tariffs.
However, in February, ElectraMeccanica was forced to recall the Solo due to a powertrain issue, and by April, when it could not resolve the battery issue, the company was forced to buy back all of its vehicles.
ElectraMeccanica had to pivot. “The management team at ElectraMeccanica is a big believer in electric mobility solutions. We needed to step back and see if there was a better solution for us,” she said.
Tevva manufacturing facility. (Teva)
Docherty and her team considered more than 100 options. “Electra Mechanica wanted to look for a partner where one plus one could become one hundred,” she said. Docherty had a shortlist of four targets.
She said Tevva was attractive because it was a fellow startup, its management team’s values aligned with those of ElectraMeccanica, the company was seeking a dual-energy solution for medium- and heavy-duty truck electrification, and it had a dedicated team. The factory is where production has already started.
“The electric vehicle business is not for the faint of heart,” Docherty said, adding that the design and manufacturing were difficult, but the battle to educate customers was also difficult.
The merger of ElectraMeccanica and Tevva is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023. Upon completion of the transaction, the combined entity will operate under the name Tevva Inc. It will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. ElectraMeccanica shareholders will own 23.5% of the combined company, and Tevva shareholders will own 76.5%.
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(Signs for translation) Electric trucks