Truck Tech: Taken for a Ride Edition

This week, Paccar is reducing its inventory of red tags. Two Nikola hydrogen fuel cell trucks take a test drive, but how far? Tesla shows several Semis but is mum on production. Mack Trucks is getting predictive with its automated manual transmission. And the best of the rest.

red tag sale

Paccar Inc., the first automaker to build and park trucks during the semiconductor shortage, made good progress in reducing its so-called “red tag” inventory in the fourth quarter. Around 7,000 of the 10,000 trucks on hold with microchips at the Peterbilt, Kenworth and DAF Truck factories have been completed and dispatched.

CEO Preston Feight declined to predict when the surplus of near-finished trucks would fall to zero, but he sounded optimistic on Tuesday’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call with analysts. Pressed to find out where most of the unfinished trucks were – North America or Europe – Paccar president and chief financial officer Harrie Schippers said they were evenly split between the brands.

“We are seeing improvement with the [first] quarter,” Feight said. “But every day the team is working with the supply base to resolve this issue. So some part may remain offline, but it is decreasing.”

Like other buying, logistics, and sales teams at truck manufacturers, Paccar reprograms certain chips to get the trucks going.

The Paccar Parts-branded charger is set to sell out fast, with the parent company of Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF Trucks selling them along with the first 100 electric trucks it leased. (Photo: Alan Adler/FreightWaves)

Feight also said Paccar is already making incremental revenue from the sale of electric chargers to go along with the 100-plus battery-electric trucks it has sold. Part of an overall six-month backlog is an additional 100 BET.

The generally bullish assessment of the Paccar business prompted three Paccar stock upgrades (NASDAQ:PCAR).

  • Credit Suisse analyst Jamie Cook raised the price target from $109 to $114 and maintained an outperform rating for the stock.
  • Morgan Stanley analyst Courtney Yakavonis raised the price target from $94 to $98 and maintained an equal weight rating.
  • Raymond James analyst Felix Boeschen raised the price target from $105 to $108, maintaining a strong buy rating.

Paccar shares closed Thursday at $93.22.


Taken for a ride

Two Class 8 Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks took a test drive from the factory in Coolidge, Arizona, west on Interstate 10. The trucks were spotted surrounded by an entourage of multiple vehicles, not law enforcement serving as chaperones, but a camera and video crews capturing the moment.

How far and where the two “Alpha” versions of the tankers went, how much range they reached before needing a fill-up and other details were among the questions Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) declined to answer. .

Nikola hydrogen fuel cell trucks were on the move last week with an entourage of film and video crews capturing the moment. (Photo: Nikola)

With the ride, Nikola kept his promise to test his FCETs this year. It has also agreed to provide pre-production models to the first customer Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) for testing between its operations in Van Nuys, California, and Chandler, Arizona. More to come on this. Maybe soon.

As Nikola moves closer to producing battery-powered trucks this quarter, early-stage FCETs are also in the game. The latest tally is seven – two assembled in Ulm, Germany, in Nikola’s joint venture with Iveco and five units hand-built in Coolidge. Two are pilot versions and three are in the process of validation and testing.

Nikola has some letters of intent to buy or lease the fuel cell trucks that are expected to go into production in 2023. The inauguration of its first hydrogen station powered by cheap electricity generated from solar energy renewable should take place this year. TravelCenters of America (NASDAQ:TA) this week reiterated plans to build hydrogen fueling stations for Nikola’s FCETs.


Tesla Semi tease?

There’s no indication the Tesla Semi is any closer to production than Elon Musk’s latest prediction of late 2023. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been progress. This photo graced Tesla’s letter to shareholders ahead of this week’s fourth quarter results. But Musk was mum on the subsequent earnings call with analysts.

Are these Tesla Semis part of the planned fleet order for Pepsico’s Frito-Lay operation in Modesto, CA? (Photo: Tesla)

According to Tesla watcher Electrek, the Semis are the most ever seen at the same time in the same place. They’re parked next to what could be the Tesla Megacharger, or these could be mobile powerpacks deployed from time to time on its Supercharger network.

The dilemma Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) faces with its Megacharger is how to offset the demand charges a utility might levy based on when one or more power-hungry Semis arrive to recharge. One solution is to store battery power nearby to help offset these loads. Tesla promised 400 miles of range for the Semi in 30 minutes of charging. No word on cost.


Predict the sequel

And to think you had to change the gears yourself.

Mack Trucks offers predictive cruise control with Econo-Roll as standard on its Anthem and Pinnacle on-road models. Combine the Mack mDrive Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) with GPS, the system monitors driver speed, engine load and road topography when cruise control is engaged.

The next time the truck travels the same route, Mack Predictive Cruise will tell the transmission to choose the best gear for fuel efficiency. And it can store up to 4,500 routes.

It does not need a permanent GPS installation. A short connection to trigger memory can improve energy efficiency by up to 1%. This is significant considering that a typical Class 8 truck uses 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year.


“The system can store up to 4,500 routes, provides maximum energy efficiency and improves total cost of ownership for customers.

Stu Russoli, road product manager at Mack Trucks


After the short GPS connection, Mack Predictive Cruise recognizes the hill, sends the communication to mDRIVE, which automatically knows the optimal speed and speed strategy for the terrain ahead. The truck maintains the highest possible gear and stays in that gear to avoid downshifts if it is not necessary to go up the hill.

Econo-Roll temporarily disengages the transmission before descending, allowing the truck to roll, reducing fuel consumption. On the descent, Econo-Roll temporarily disengages the transmission, allowing the truck to roll and consume less fuel.

Because the grade is stored in the vehicle’s memory, Predictive Cruise recognizes it and knows when the grade will level out, allowing the truck to maintain speed for the next grade.


The best of the rest

the Advanced Clean Transport Expo will be a kind of coming out party for Mathias Carbaum, who will deliver a keynote address at the event in Long Beach, Calif., in May. Carlbaum was recently named President and CEO of Navistarnow part of Volkswagen AG Traton SE truck holding company.

Acquisition of Navistar for $3.7 billion gives Traton a foothold in North America against major manufacturing competitors Daimler Truck, Volvo Trucks and Paccar.

Speaking of major addresses, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer chose the truck owned by Daimler Detroit Diesel factory to deliver his annual state of the state address.

Young Liu, chairman of foxconthe new owner of the old General Engines factory in Lordstown, Ohio, says the Lordstown Stamina The electric van will start shipping in the second half of the year. Liu spoke about Lordstown in an interview with Nikkei Asia.

Foxconn, better known as an assembler of Apple iPhones, paid $230 million to buy Startup Assembly Complex Lordstown Engines. It is planned to build the Endurance as a subcontractor.

The Lordstown Endurance battery electric van. (Photo: Lordstown Motors)

Will the rush for electric trucks be the death of natural gas trucks? Don’t bet on it. ACT Research reported that while the hype is for battery-electric trucks, natural gas trucks, which run cleaner than diesel but are less powerful and still a fossil fuel, grew by about 3% over the period of September to November 2021 compared to the same three months a year earlier.

However, the outlook for natural gas infrastructure is uncertain.

“We are seeing an overall increase in electric charging stations, both existing and planned, but a continued decline in the total number of natural gas stations, especially those planned for the future,” said ACT Vice President Steve Tam.


It’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. Click here to subscribe to Truck Tech for Friday email delivery.

Alain