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Giant Mining Trucks and Buses Are Smashing Electric Vehicle Records

September 19, 2017

Size now appears to be no barrier to building competent vehicles without internal combustion engines. Big battery-powered electric vehicles like trucks once seemed fanciful, because their large masses need a lot of energy to shift and diesel fuel is much more energy-dense than a lithium-ion cell. But that’s not holding people back from seeing just what kind of performance they can eke out of electrified working vehicles.

Today, electric bus maker Proterra has announced that one of its Catalyst E2 Max electric buses, pictured above, has set a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle on a single charge. Its 660 kilowatt-hours of battery capacity—almost nine times the capacity of the largest batteries in Tesla’s new Model 3 sedan—allowed it to cruise 1,101 miles, albeit at 15 mph, around the Navistar Proving Grounds in Indiana.

Elsewhere, Swiss firms Lithium Storage GmbH and Kuhn Schweiz AG have converted a monstrous Komatsu dumper mining truck with a giant 700 kilowatt-hour battery pack to create the world’s largest electric vehicle, Electrek reports. Weighing 110 tons—4.5 tons of which are battery pack—it’s not yet in use, so there are no performance stats. But its makers do expect its descents back into the quarry to allow it to top its batteries up with as much as 40 kilowatt-hours of charge via regenerative braking.

Meantime, plenty of folks are also busy building electric trucks. Last week we reported that Daimler’s new eCanter electric load haulers are to be put to use in America by UPS. Today, Bosch announced that it’s partnering with startup Nikola Motor Co. to launch a pair of heavy-duty trucks with hydrogen-electric powertrains and ranges of at least 800 miles by 2021. And, of course, Tesla is expected to unveil its own electric semi in October.

In other words, diesel’s days may be numbered, even in heavy duty vehicles.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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