- China's Geely has launched a new electric semi truck called the Homtruck.
- Geely's commercial vehicle group, Farizon Auto, is planning to roll out the vehicles in 2024 and is targeting international markets too.
- Geely's Homtruck launch comes as a number of automakers from Mercedes-owner Daimler to Warren Buffett-backed BYD and Tesla have announced their own electric trucks.
SHANGHAI — China's Geely on Monday launched a new electric semi truck as automakers look to bring new technology to the commercial vehicles market.
Geely's commercial vehicle group, Farizon Auto, is planning to roll out the new Homtruck in 2024 and is targeting international markets too, the division's CEO Mike Fan told CNBC in an interview on Monday.
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"This product is designed and developed facing the global market," Fan said, according to a CNBC translation, adding that the company would target Europe, Korea, Japan and North America, with the new vehicle.
Geely's Homtruck launch comes as a number of automakers from Mercedes-owner Daimler to Warren Buffett-backed BYD have announced their own electric trucks. Tesla, which announced its own truck called the Semi in 2017, has delayed production of that vehicle for some time.
The Homtruck will have different power options including methanol hybrid and pure electric. Methanol-powered batteries are a technology Geely has been investing in for some years and some of its models currently have this power option. Farizon said the Homtruck's batteries can also be swapped out which cuts down on the need to charge.
The interior includes a shower and toilet, single bed, refrigerator, kitchen area and a small washing machine, the company said.
Fully driverless by 2030?
The Homtruck has been built with autonomous driving in mind.
Geely said the vehicle will be able to use some partially autonomous driverless features. And for longer journeys, trucks will be able to communicate with each other to maintain safe speed and distance.
Fan said that Geely plans to introduce autonomous driving in three phases. By 2023, the company hopes to have some partial driverless features with more advanced systems in 2026. Geely plans to achieve full autonomy in 2030.
"I'm sure regulations and standards of autonomous driving are in the process of formation," Fan said.
"On the basis of market demand and the development demand of our own company, [Geely] as a company, should develop and improve certain technologies ahead of time. So that when regulations and conditions are ready, we can apply our technology into the market in time."
Rising raw material prices, chip shortage
Automakers have also been dealing with a surge in the prices of raw materials and a global shortage of semiconductors.
Vehicle makers are watching the price of lithium which has surged to record highs this year.
An Oct. 29 report from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said that battery makers are starting to pass on these price rises to automotive companies "which could have a major impact on electric vehicles coming to market between 2022 and 2024."
Geely's Fan said that rising raw material prices are affecting the company's production quantity and margin as the automaker faces "rising price pressure."
He called rising raw material prices a "period issue" which will "gradually ease."
Fan also said the global chip shortage is restricting the company's production volume. But he also said that supply issues are "gradually being resolved" and companies are working on "alternative solutions" for chips.
"So these two parts will play together in order to ease the chip shortage," Fan said.