Tesla has some new competition in the realm of Electric Trucking: electric tractor trailers.
Shell Global sent its new electric-engine AirFlow Starship on its first journey across the country. It traveled from Atlanta to Long Beach, Calif. The unveiling of the new tractor-trailer this year spiked both interest and concerns throughout the industry.
As the first major heavy-duty truck to come out since Tesla’s electric long-haul trailer, Shell thinks more companies will follow suit in choosing electric trailers, which decrease 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions a truck creates. Shell’s Bob Mainwaring tells CNBC, “Shell is an energy company … It’s always good to conserve energy.”
Industry experts say they expected Shell to design a cab for years.
The Airflow Starship is modeled after the Airflow Truck built by Robert Sliwa, who has been working to design the most fuel-efficient trucks possible since 1983. In addition, the Starship has an aerodynamic design. Therefore, this helps in reducing drag, and solar panels to power smaller features, such as windshield wipers. Also, a “hybrid electric axle system and custom automatic tire inflation” allow for better fuel efficiency.
The new trailer is completing its maiden voyage across the country through Shell’s Rotella Starship Initiative. Sliwa has said he hopes his new trailer design will beat his last model’s previous record of 13.4 miles per gallon. That record was set by Tesla’s Bullet Truck, which can travel 500 miles without needing to be recharged. Though production of these trailers isn’t set to begin until May 2019, both Walmart and UPS have ordered mass quantities.
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