Teva Motors, a London-based start-up said this week it is heartened to have attracted the interest of UPS, and to be working with a major Chinese truck manufacturer in bringing its range-extended diesel-electric truck to market.
With the input of ex-Lotus and VP engineering for the Tesla Roadster, Malcolm Powell, the company says its UK-assembled trucks are “following Tesla down the road to electric vehicle success.”
While its 7.5-ton hybrid trucks are not quite like Tesla’s sleek electric cars, a similarity is being drawn in that Teva will use an existing chassis and retrofit it with its powertrain.
(Note: UPS truck pictured is not a Teva product. Actual images of prototype are not yet available.)
“Using an existing chassis is vital to getting the cost down, said Malcolm Powell. “This is what we did at Tesla with the Lotus chassis. Our expertise is in the drivetrain and battery, not the rest of the truck, so why re-invent the wheel?”
Aside from this similarity, Teva’s medium duty truck actually appears more similar in concept to light duty offerings by U.S. companies such as VIA Motors or ALT-E, but its product nonetheless appears to have promise for a £4.5 billion market.
The value proposition for a plug-in “base-to-base” delivery truck is expected to be an easier sell to fleet buyers, and range-extended hybrids – particularly with an efficient diesel – do look good on paper.
What’s more, aside from Powell, the company founded last year boasts top-shelf talent including EV entrepreneurs Trevor Powell and Asher Bennett who serves as CEO.
Bennett noted fleet buyers are impressed most with return on investment and lifetime operational costs, and make decisions based on the bottom line more so than do average consumers.
“The market has clearly told us that electric vehicles must be operationally competitive, they must never run out of range, and they must cost less than diesel vehicles,” said Bennett, “This is what Teva Motors is delivering.”
Teva says its range extended drivetrain eliminates range anxiety while retaining the cost and environmental benefits.
“Typically the small on-board diesel might be used for just a short time each day to re-charge the battery,” said the company in a statement, “but that makes all the difference. It also allows the battery to be used to its full potential, so you get the maximum benefits from cheap night-time electricity.”
At present, Teva Motors is working with a prototype vehicle shipped under contract from “China’s largest truck importer” and Teva takes it as a vote of confidence that a major manufacturer would work with it at this stage.
Powell also spoke at the Automotive Cleantech Conference in London this week.