Thor makes its pitch to the electric truck market

Co-founder Semler pushes case for innovation in tardy industry

Thor makes its pitch to the electric truck market
The Thor image of its ET-One prime mover


With electric propulsion leading to a proliferation of truck makers not seen in more than a century, another one has emerged in the US.

California-based Thor has unveiled its ET-One prime mover it claims is built to handle loads of 36 tonnes and may be the first in this emergence to have come from a trucking industry background.

The company’s pitch is directly to companies seeking to burnish their US ‘green’ credentials.

"The zero emission powertrain faces no regulation from air quality regulators," it says.

Its battery pack is said to allow "vehicle ranges up to 300 miles [482km] for short haul and regional tractors and trucks".

"Thor’s battery pack is designed specifically for commercial heavy-duty applications," the firm that counts itself a "transport laboratory" says.

"The battery pack is comprised of the highest energy density lithium-ion cylindrical cells available. Thor is looking forward to new battery technologies that have potential to allow for rapid charging or longer ranges.

"We are ready to adapt to new technologies as they are commercially viable."

Powertrain options range from 300-700hp (223-522kW) with full torque starting at standstill.

While describing its cab design as "driver-centric", it seems to have eschewed Tesla’s single-seat Semi layout.

"The ET-One was designed with the fleet-operator and truck driver in mind," Thor says.

"Design choices were influenced by managers and drivers of fleets ranging 10 to 10,000 vehicles in size.

"Thor has done everything to understand the concerns of its customer and design a vehicle that integrates seamlessly with an existing fleet."

US industry publication says the vehicle uses a Navistar chassis, Dana axles and TM4 engine.

Speaking on his background in using diesel-fuelled trucks, air pollution and the genesis of Thor at a Milken Institute conference in November,

Thor Trucks co-founder and chief executive Dakota Semler says: "I am from a multi-generational family of fleet operators and we actually ran these trucks.

"We’re part of the problem."

Showing an image of a semi-trailer from the 1960s, Semler bemoans the lack of innovation in emissions, design and aerodynamics.

"The industry has really stagnated – we have an innovation curve that has really taken off in a lot of industries that has really left the commercial trucking world and the commercial vehicle world behind," he says.

However, he sees the cost per kilowatt hour in batteries falling to a point now that it is below the diesel equivalent and accepts that return on investment is crucial to attracting uptake from operations such as his family owns.


Sign up to receive the Trade Trucks e-Newsletter and offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox.

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook