Tevva’s first full-production vehicle is a 7.5-tonne electric truck with a 141-mile range
We speak to Tevva founder Asher Bennett about the zero-emission truck market as it prepares for launch
British electric truck start-up Tevva has secured type approval for its first full-production vehicle, a 7.5-tonne truck with a range of up to 141 miles.
Twenty examples are due to leave the Tilbury-based firm’s manufacturing plant located on the edge of the Thames Freeport during the first week of January, en route to customers.
By the end of the year, Tevva hopes to be producing around 1000 new trucks annually, a figure boosted by the launch in six months’ time of a hydrogen-electric range-extender variant, to be followed at the end of the year by a 19-tonne version using the same technology.
Tevva was founded 10 years ago by Asher Bennett (pictured below), an Israeli former submarine officer who was inspired to start his business by the electrically powered craft he served on and the diesel generators that extended their range.
The company’s new trucks enter a market served increasingly by established manufacturers including Daf, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo as well as newcomers like Volta.
Is Bennett concerned about the heavyweight rivals ranged against him? “Not at all,” he said. “Competitors are good. They show customers there’s a market for our technology.”
With just over 10 years to go before new fossil-fuelled HGVs under 26 tonnes can no longer be sold here, Tevva and other truck makers are under pressure to establish electric trucks as a viable alternative in the minds of operators.
“In truth, it’s our customers’ customers we have to persuade,” said Bennett. “They want to be green, but they’re businesspeople too so need to be sure that electric trucks are competitive in terms, for example, of their total cost of ownership.”
On that point, Bennett said medium-range journey cycles are where Tevva’s EVs score over diesel trucks: “Until they’re being produced and sold in large numbers, our electric trucks are more expensive than diesel alternatives. However, their running costs are lower, and the more mileage they cover, the lower those costs are. On short journey cycles they are not so efficient.”
For the sceptical operators out there, Tevva offers a growing fleet of long-term demonstrators, supported by a mass of data gathered since 2016 by its development trucks during 300,000 test miles in UK cities.
Transport & Environment, an NGO campaigning for cleaner transport, is confident that operators will favour electric trucks over those powered purely by hydrogen fuel cells, even for long-haul. Its reasons include batteries’ greater energy efficiency plus lower maintenance costs. Concerning range, it said that close to 80% of road freight activity in Europe is performed on trips below 500 miles. As for charging, it reckons that, thanks to a denser charging infrastructure, electric trucks will be able to recharge during the driver’s mandatory rest periods, minimising downtime.
Whichever solution emerges on top, Tevva is covered by both its new electric truck and a hydrogen version that ducks the efficiency question by using the fuel cell as a range extende, charging the batteries on the move.
The Tevva 7.5T Electric has a 105kWh battery pack designed and manufactured in-house, powering electric two motors with a combined output of 257bhp. Each is supplied with current by its own inverter for optimum control and performance. Regenerative braking and cloud-based telemetry for more efficient operation help eke out every last mile of its maximum 141-mile range.
The vehicle, whose ladder-frame chassis and other mechanicals are sourced from a major manufacturer and which can accept a variety of bodies, is aimed at local operators.
To this technology its sister model, the Tevva 7.5T Hydrogen Electric, adds a hydrogen fuel cell range-extender (the cell is supplied by Canadian firm Loop Energy, whose UK centre is just down the road from Tevva), boosting operating range to 354 miles. Refuelling takes just 10 minutes and Tevva has created a services division to enable customers to do this at their depots, using fixed or mobile hydrogen systems, or to advise on the location of refuelling stations elsewhere.
“The range-extender is the one closest to my heart, and I predict it will be our biggest seller,” Bennett said confidently. As a man used to travelling for months at a time under the world’s oceans, he should know.