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商业 - 科技

电动卡车——特斯拉即将发布的又一利器

Reuters 2017年09月03日

马斯克曾表示,希望在几年内开始特斯拉半挂车的批量生产。这个大胆举动有可能为这家设在加州帕拉奥图的汽车制造商开辟一个潜在利润丰厚的新市场。

据路透社报道,特斯拉计划下个月发布一款续航里程为200-300英里(322-483公里)的大卡车,这表明特斯拉已将地区性运输作为自己进入商用运输市场的切入点。

特斯拉首席执行官埃隆·马斯克已经承诺,将在9月份发布特斯拉原型半挂车,以扩大特斯拉在除豪华车以外的市场。马斯克一直在用设想中的电池驱动重型卡车“撩”拨卡车行业:电池驱动的重型卡车可以与传统柴油卡车可一较高下,传统柴油卡车加满油后可行驶1000英里(1610公里)。

Ryder System是总部设在迈阿密的车队运营商。该公司首席技术官兼首席采购官斯科特·佩里认为,特斯拉原型电动卡车的续航能力可以达到运输界老手眼中“长途”卡车运输的下沿。佩里说今年早些时候他跟特斯拉高层见过面,讨论了加州弗里蒙特的特斯拉工厂使用的技术。他指出,特斯拉的工作重点是没有卧铺的“日间驾驶型”电动大卡车,常规载重下的续航能力约200-300英里。

佩里说:“我觉得他们不会制定行驶里程更长的战略,我想那就是他们的起步点。”

特斯拉在回答路透社提问的电子邮件中表示:“特斯拉的政策一直是拒绝对猜测发布评论,无论是否属实,因为这样做是愚蠢的。愚蠢!”

特斯拉的计划和电池研究人员所说的当前技术可能达到的水平一致,只是该公司可能随着这款卡车的开发而调整计划。特斯拉尚未公布该卡车的续航里程、价格以及载货能力。但马斯克承认,公司已私下里和潜在买家有过会面,就买家的需求进行了沟通。

本月早些时候路透社曾报道,特斯拉正在为这款大卡车开发自动驾驶技术。

马斯克曾表示,希望在几年内开始特斯拉半挂车的批量生产。这个大胆举动有可能为这家设在加州帕拉奥图的汽车制造商开辟一个潜在利润丰厚的新市场。

但实际情况也可能证明,这是一个高成本干扰源。今年7月马斯克曾警告说,随着加快新轿车Model 3的生产,特斯拉正在为制造方面可能经历的“极为艰难阶段”做准备。该公司的目标是到今年底使Model 3的周产量达到5000量,到明年某个时间达到1万辆。

今年特斯拉的股价上涨了65%左右。但怀疑一直伴其左右。一些人质疑马斯克是否能让特斯拉从小众企业变为大规模汽车制造商。预计特斯拉股价将下跌的投资者已经做空了该公司约22%的流通股。

作为一名怪异的亿万富翁,马斯克的运输梦想还包括移民火星。长期以来,他一直以挑战传统观点为乐。在6月份的特斯拉股东大会上,马斯克重申了他对电池动力长途卡车的承诺。

他说:“许多人都觉得我们造不出电动长途重型卡车,但我们相信这能做到。”

虽然Ryder System的佩里所描述的原型车在能力上仍远远落后于传统柴油卡车,但如果能履行诺言,马斯克也许真的会找到“甜点”。设在多伦多的Fleet Complete是一家卡车追踪和分析机构。据该公司首席策略官桑迪普·卡介绍,在美国,约30%的卡车司机都在从事100-200英里(161-322公里)的地区性运输业务。

续航能力达到这个水平的卡车应该可以从事地区性运输,比如从港口到附近城市,或者从仓库都零售网点。

卡说:“只要(马斯克)能突破200英里,他就可以说自己造出了‘长途’卡车,而且从技术上讲这样说也没错。”

希望减少碳排放并降低运营成本的运输公司对电动卡车非常有兴趣。与燃油车相比,电动汽车需要的维护更少,电价也比柴油便宜。

但当前技术还无法支持能横穿美国的载运电动卡车。专家指出,这样做需要的电池太大太重,几乎不会剩下装载货物的空间。

柴油卡车的平均价格约为12万美元(约79万元人民币)。卡内基梅隆大学电池研究人员沙尚克·斯里帕德和文卡特·维斯瓦纳坦介绍说,对常规载重下可以连续行驶200-400英里(322-644公里)的电动大卡车来说,仅电池成本就可能超过这个数字。

斯里帕德和维斯瓦纳坦最近发表的研究报告指出,电池重量和供电能力将常规载重半挂车的续航里程限制在300英里左右。报告对特斯拉提供的“有帮助的评价和建议”表示了感谢。特斯拉在回答路透社问题时并未认可这篇报告,也没有做出评论。

研究者和业内人士认为,按照刚刚起步的电动卡车行业的标准,200-300英里的续航里程会让特斯拉的卡车几乎具有经济可行性。

汽车厂商戴姆勒和运输公司联合包裹等运输业拥趸表示,在电动汽车方面,他们的精力主要集中在短途卡车上。因为较短的距离和较轻的载重需要的电池较少,而且到了晚上卡车可以在集散中心充电。戴姆勒的卡车销量居全球之首,该公司今年将开始生产电动卡车。戴姆勒管理人员表示,该产品的续航能力为100英里,载重9400磅(4230公斤),比同等水平的卡车载重量少约1000磅(450公斤)。

几家初创公司跟戴姆勒不谋而合,其中包括设在洛杉矶的电动汽车制造商Chanje。它正在和Ryder System联手打造行驶里程100英里的电动卡车,用来运送包裹。

Ryder System及其客户相信电动卡车的购置成本可能较高,但维护费用可能较低,燃料成本也更容易预测。随着电池价格的下降以及环保监管的加强,使用电动卡车的依据可能变得更加充分。

Ryder System首席技术官佩里说:“人们目前认为这项技术可能是个重要的差异化因素。大家都想知道它的真实性有多少。”(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审稿:夏林

Tesla Inc next month plans to unveil an electric big-rig truck with a working range of 200 to 300 miles, Reuters has learned, a sign that the electric car maker is targeting regional hauling for its entry into the commercial freight market.

Chief Executive Elon Musk has promised to release a prototype of its Tesla Semi truck next month in a bid to expand the company's market beyond luxury cars. The entrepreneur has tantalized the trucking industry with the prospect of a battery-powered heavy-duty vehicle that can compete with conventional diesels, which can travel up to 1,000 miles on a single tank of fuel.

Tesla ’s electric prototype will be capable of traveling the low end of what transportation veterans consider to be “long-haul” trucking, according to Scott Perry, an executive at Miami-based fleet operator Ryder System Inc. Perry said he met with Tesla officials earlier this year to discuss the technology at the automaker’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California. Perry said Tesla ’s efforts are centered on an electric big-rig known as a “day cab” with no sleeper berth, capable of traveling about 200 to 300 miles with a typical payload before recharging.

“I’m not going to count them out for having a strategy for longer distances or ranges, but right out of the gate I think that’s where they’ll start,” said Perry, who is the chief technology officer and chief procurement officer for Ryder.

Tesla responded to Reuters questions with an email statement saying, " Tesla ’s policy is to always decline to comment on speculation, whether true or untrue, as doing so would be silly. Silly!”

Tesla 's plan, which could change as the truck is developed, is consistent with what battery researchers say is possible with current technology. Tesla has not said publicly how far its electric truck could travel, what it would cost or how much cargo it could carry. But Musk has acknowledged that Tesla has met privately with potential buyers to discuss their needs.

Reuters reported earlier this month that Tesla is developing self-driving capability for the big rig.

Musk has expressed hopes for large-scale production of the Tesla Semi within a couple of years. That audacious effort could open a potentially lucrative new market for the Palo Alto, California-based automaker.

Or it could prove an expensive distraction. Musk in July warned that the company is bracing for “manufacturing hell” as it accelerates production of its new Model 3 sedan. Tesla aims to produce 5,000 of the cars per week by the end of this year, and 10,000 per week some time next year.

Tesla shares are up about 65 percent this year. But skeptics abound. Some doubt Musk's ability to take Tesla from a niche producer to a large-scale automaker. About 22 percent of shares available for trade have been sold "short" by investors who expect the stock to fall.

Musk, a quirky billionaire whose transportation ambitions include colonizing the planet Mars, has long delighted in defying conventional wisdom. At Tesla ’s annual meeting in June, he repeated his promise of a battery-powered long-haul big rig.

"A lot of people don't think you can do a heavy-duty, long-range truck that's electric, but we are confident that this can be done," he said.

While the prototype described by Ryder’s Perry would fall well short of the capabilities of conventional diesels, Musk may well have found a sweet spot if he can deliver. Roughly 30 percent of U.S. trucking jobs are regional trips of 100 to 200 miles, according to Sandeep Kar, chief strategy officer of Toronto-based Fleet Complete, which tracks and analyzes truck movement.

A truck with that range would be able to move freight regionally, such as from ports to nearby cities or from warehouses to retail establishments.

"As long as (Musk) can break 200 miles he can claim his truck is 'long haul' and he will be technically right," Kar said.

Interest in electric trucks is high among transportation firms looking to reduce their emissions and operating costs. Electric motors require less maintenance than internal combustion engines. Juice from the grid is cheaper than diesel.

But current technology doesn’t pencil when it comes to powering U.S. trucks across the country. Experts say the batteries required would be so large and heavy there would be little room for cargo.

An average diesel cab costs around $120,000. The cost of the battery alone for a big rig capable of going 200 to 400 miles carrying a typical payload could be more than that, according to battery researchers Shashank Sripad and Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University.

Battery weight and ability would limit a semi to a range of about 300 miles with an average payload, according to a paper recently published by Viswanathan and Sripad. The paper thanked Tesla for "helpful comments and suggestions." Tesla did not endorse the work or comment on the conclusions to Reuters.

A range of 200 to 300 miles would put Tesla at the edge of what the nascent electric truck industry believes is economically feasible, the researchers and industry insiders said.

Transportation stalwarts such as manufacturer Daimler AG and shipping company United Parcel Service Inc , said they are focusing their electric efforts on short-haul trucks. That’s because smaller distances and lighter payloads require less battery power, and trucks can recharge at a central hub overnight. Daimler, the largest truck manufacturer in the world by sales, will begin production this year on an electric delivery truck. The vehicle will have a 100-mile range and be capable of carrying a payload of 9,400 pounds, about 1,000 pounds less than its diesel counterpart, according to Daimler officials.

Daimler has been joined by a handful of startups such as Chanje, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer that has a partnership with Ryder to build 100-mile-range electric trucks for package delivery.

Ryder and its customers believe electric trucks could cost more to buy but may be cheaper to maintain and have more predictable fuel costs. As batteries become cheaper and environmental regulation increases, the case for electric trucks could strengthen.

"This tech is being seen as a major potential differentiator. Everyone wants to understand how real it is," said Perry, the chief technology officer.

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