One of the challenges that can accompany success is transitioning from the role of underdog to favorite, from pursuer to the one being pursued. And although you can argue about the degree of Tesla’s success, their bravado and ability to attract headlines have definitely made them a target.
So, when Elon Musk and Tesla unveiled their electric semi a few weeks ago, they might as well have securely affixed a bullseye to the front grill.
Not only did that unveiling reportedly push trucking giants like Cummins, Daimler, and Toyota to expedite their electric efforts, but it brought new attention to starts-ups like hydrogen fuel cell developer Nikola Motors, and most recently, Los Angeles-based Thor Trucks.
Fresh off of Tesla announcing a pre-order for 100 electric semis from Pepsi, Thor unveiled their ET1. Promising the same 80,000-pound hauling capacity, but a shorter 300-mile range on a full charge, the ET1 also carries a price tag that’s $30,000 less than Tesla – a substantial amount when targeting companies with vehicle fleets that turn over every five years.
Much of this cost savings will come at the expense of autonomous operations, as Thor is looking to work with existing companies instead of developing proprietary, competitive offerings.
This explains the Navistar chassis, Dana axles, and TM4 electric motor. These are all well-recognized brands in the trucking industry and could help to not only keep development costs down and streamline production timelines but legitimize Thor in the eyes of fleet operators.
That legitimacy will be important for co-founders Dakota Semler and Giordano Sordoni, as neither have engineering backgrounds.
What makes Thor an interesting competitor for Tesla and others in the electric space is that they’re essentially retrofitting traditional components and systems for use in electric vehicle applications. Again, this helps keep costs in check.
Additionally, the Thor Truck, when it begins production in 2019, could qualify for up to $110,000 in vouchers from California’s zero-emissions incentive program for heavy-duty trucks.