Ian Wright was one of a small group of engineers who launched Tesla Motors 12 years ago. Tesla has since moved explosively into the EV market, almost instantly dominating the EV luxury segment with it’s high performance cars, and now looking to do the same for mid-priced EVs. However, wright is not satisfied with just cars, he now also wants to electrify the noisy trucks that are constantly driving around and making frequent stops on city streets.
His new venture, Wrightspeed, does not actually manufacture trucks. Instead, the firm designs and sells electric powertrains for use on medium-and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Wright notes that trucks with electric powertrains are notably cleaner, quieter and more energy-efficient than conventional gas or diesel trucks.
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More on Tesla co-founder’s Wrightspeed
“We save a lot on fuel. We save a lot on maintenance, and we make the emissions compliance much easier,” noted Wright, a New Zealander who moved on from Tesla when it was still a startup back in 2005, in discussing the electric powertrains his firm produces.
San Jose-based Wrightspeed is trying to transform the market for commercial trucks from polluting, bothersome internal combustion vehicles in to quiet, relatively clean EVs.
Wright’s firm is already installing electric powertrains on 25 FedEx delivery trucks and 17 garbage trucks for the Ratto Group (a waste management firm based in Santa Clara). Its plug-in powertrains features an electric engine, a cutting-edge battery and a built-in power generator that runs on diesel or natural gas to recharges the battery when it gets low while driving.
Of note, a Wrightspeed electric powertrain costs $150,000 to $200,000 fully installed, while a new conventionally-powered garbage truck.typically costs around $500,000.
Statement from analyst
Analysts note that it will not be an easy task to convince commercial fleet owners to replace their gas and diesel trucks won’t be easy.
“It takes a lot of technological ambition to break into such an old and established market,” pointed Mark Duvall, research director at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto. “If you want to sell a fleet owner an electric truck, you have to convince them that it’s better than what they’re already using. So the bar is set very high.”