We rode in an electric truck from Thor, a start-up that aims to beat Tesla to market

Key Points
  • Thor Trucks has developed an electric semi that can haul 80,000 pounds of cargo and travel up to 300 miles on a single charge.
  • The self-funded start-up is trying to beat Tesla to the market with its electric trucks.
  • Thor Trucks plans to partner with existing auto-makers to manufacture its vehicles, rather than raising hundreds of millions to build a factory.
This electric semi is trying to beat Tesla to market

A start-up called Thor Trucks plans to beat Tesla to market with its electric truck, the ET-One. The Los Angeles-based company aims to have its vehicles in production in 2019, according to co-founders Giordano Sordoni and Dakota Semler.

Last November, Tesla showed off a prototype of its heavy-duty electric semi, which should be able to drive 300 to 500 miles on a single charge, and will include the company's semi-autonomous driving system, which will help drivers avoid collisions. Tesla has already scored reservations for its semis from high profile customers including Wal-Mart, DHL and Pepsi, and the company says it will begin production of the trucks in 2019.

Unlike Tesla, which manufactures its vehicles completely, Thor Trucks plans to partner with existing auto-manufacturers to build its trucks. It has its own battery technology, but otherwise its trucks will use off-the-shelf components, and have features that feel familiar to drivers and fleet managers. Thor has no plans for autonomous driving.

SOURCE: Magdalena Petrova CNBC

Semler told CNBC he was inspired to get into the truck industry after struggling to upgrade the fleets run by his own family business, Malibu Wines, in order to meet new air quality standards in the state of California. He said, "Buses and cars, passenger vehicles, are electrified. But there wasn't an affordable or commercially viable option for us."

Thor's ET-One is a heavy-duty semi with the capability to haul 80,000 pounds of cargo, and to travel up to 300 miles on a single charge. The company, which is self-funded thus far, plans to sell the truck for $150,000 making it comparably priced to Tesla's base model, and other medium-duty trucks on the market.