Move over, Tesla – B.C. company rolls out electric semi truck

Electric semi truck rolling

A new hybrid electric heavy duty truck developed by Edison Motors in Merritt, B.C., is now officially road-worthy.

Edison ‘s L500 semi prototype -- dubbed the "Topsy" -- has been granted a vehicle identification number and registration. The company now has four orders for the truck, which uses regenerative braking for much of its power, and will soon be opening a new manufacturing plant in Terrace to build the trucks.

“We have officially built the first truck in British Columbia… in over 30 years,” Edison Motors founder and CEO Chace Barber said in a press release. “We’ve officially built a truck that passes all the government certifications, a truck that can be driven on the road.”

Edison Motors was started by Chace Barber and Eric Little, who started a truck-logging company in 2016 in Merritt.

After putting in an order for a Tesla electric semi truck in 2017, and waiting four years, they decided to just build their own. They started doing retrofits, using conventional semi trucks and installing diesel-electric drive-trains and regenerative braking, but are now manufacturing the trucks entirely themselves.

In addition to designing diesel-electric heavy duty trucks, Edison Motors also makes conversion kits for switching pickup trucks from internal combustion engines to diesel-electric.

Edison Motors' diesel-electric semi truck is suited to certain resource industries, such as logging, so there could be a big demand for them in B.C. Most of the power for logging trucks would be provided through regenerative braking when they are coming down off a mountain with a load of logs.

“For logging, we project between a 60 and possibly up to 100 per cent fuel reduction, because you have regenerative braking,” Theron Groff, Edison’s chief marketing officer, told BIV News. “In a logging truck, you go up the mountain empty, and you’re light, and you can get up the mountain just on battery power. In an ideal scenario, you don’t use your generator at all. The generator is just more a range extender.”

Edison plan to relocate to Terrace this summer, and will be hiring 30 people to work in the manufacturing plant.

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