Daimler fights Tesla, VW with new electric big rig truck

Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) unveiled on Wednesday an all-electric big rig truck it promises to have in production in 2021, as the German automaker mounts a major challenge to European and American rivals, including new entrants like Tesla Inc (TSLA.O).

Truck buyers anticipate global regulation to curb pollution from trucks and see advantages from lower fuel and maintenance costs of electric vehicles, but a fleet technology switch is far from certain given challenges of cost, charging infrastructure, range, and the potential for heavy batteries to constrict payloads.

Daimler’s Freightliner eCascadia is an 18-wheeler with a 250-mile (400 km) range, aimed for regional distribution and port services, while Tesla has said that its Semi – which it expects to build by 2020 – will be suited to longer-distance runs with a 500-mile range.