Over a year ago, my co-founder Giordano Sordoni and I set a goal: Get electric trucks on the road. In December of 2017, we took a major step in reaching our goal when we built our first fully-electric class 8 semi, the ET-One.
Since we launched the ET-One six months ago, we’ve learned a lot. For starters, we realized electric trucks aren’t going to solve everyone’s problems. While electric technology can be a game changer for a lot of fleets, battery powered vehicles aren’t right for absolutely everyone. For example, we’re focused on fleets in the short and medium ranges rather than long haul independent operators. We also learned our understanding of fleets goes a long way, and while we aren’t the largest company in the industry, our customers can appreciate that we’ve walked in their shoes before and understand their pain points.
Most importantly, this experience has reaffirmed a belief Gio and I have held since the beginning: No one can get fully-electric commercial vehicles on the road by themselves. This industry is too capital intensive and has so many moving parts (literally) that if we really want to get these vehicles on the road today and not ten years from now, we need to throw out the playbook.
That’s why today, we’re thrilled to announce that UPS, the leading global logistics company, is our first partner and customer. As experienced fleet operators, UPS will help us understand what we need to do to get fully-electric fleets on the road. UPS will be field testing one of our class 6 trucks in the Los Angeles metro area for six months, and will hopefully be adding many Thor trucks to its fleet soon after.
Startups often have the mobility to innovate and take calculated risks, but it’s incredibly difficult to scale innovation due to financial, regulatory, and infrastructure constraints. On the flipside, legacy companies and their massive operations don’t always have this mobility, but budget and infrastructure constraints are less of a concern. There is a profound importance of legacy companies at the moment that can’t be overstated. The automotive ecosystem is undergoing a transformation and we’re seeing an influx of old school companies partnering with startups in a meaningful, progressive way.
Thor’s partnership with UPS signals a change in an industry that is in constant flux. In 2018, we are faced with a mix of unique challenges: Regulations, tariffs, quality of life concerns in U.S. cities due to pollution and noise. Establishing strategic partnerships to bridge the gap between idea and execution is the crucial first step that the transportation industry needs to take, and today, we’re excited to take that first step.