This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission. 

With all eyes are focused on self-driving car technologies, and Mobileye recording the largest autonomous driving tech deal ever through its sale to Intel Corp. last month, an under-the-radar and mostly overlooked industry is also heating up: that of electric trucks.

Earlier this month Tesla Inc., the Palo Alto, California-based automaker, put out a timeline for the launch of an electric semi-truck that sees it happening as early as September this year. And just last week Toyota rolled out its own exhaust-free truck powered by hydrogen. For now, though, Toyota has not committed to the idea of turning the truck power system into a commercial program, Toyota senior executive engineer Takehito Yokoo told Forbes, while Telsa’s Elon Musk has provided no real details of his truck strategy.

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Meanwhile, one UK company — Tevva Motors — has already got its first orders for repowering the trucks of delivery giants UPS, DHL and Switzerland’s Kuehne+Nagel with its components, including the batteries and motor, according to Tevva’s 48-year-old Israeli founder Asher Bennett. Bennett is the older brother of former entrepreneur turned right-wing politician Naftali Bennett, who is Israel’s education minister.

“The industry is starting to warm up, but we are most advanced,” he said. The company is gearing up for production of its trucks, including its motors and battery systems, and seeking to raise some $10 million to $15 million to help finance its growth. Delivery of its first commercial orders are scheduled for the fourth quarter of the year.

Using submarine technology for trucks

Bennett, a former submarine officer in the Israeli Navy, has brought to trucks the same technologies used in the underwater craft. Just as submarines do, Tevva’s trucks use a large lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for propulsion, and have a generator to recharge the battery while the truck is in motion. Also like the submarines, they have a detailed plan for energy use and management.

“We developed a large iron lithium battery and an electric motor, but we also have a range extender that kicks in when needed,” he said in a phone interview from Tevva’s offices in Chelmsford, outside London. The battery, when fitted on a 7.5-ton truck, can last for 160 kilometers – about 100 miles – or 600 kilometers with the range extender. The range extender, which currently runs on diesel fuel, will use a completely new and “groundbreaking” technology by the summer, Bennett said, that will allow it to be completely emission free.

Tevva Motors’ trucks have a battery, motor and range extender (Courtesy)

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Photos and video: Tevva Motors 

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