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18 wheels, zero emissions: BMW premiers all-electric material transport truck in Germany

No vehicle can call the road home like a semi truck can. These behemoth machines traverse our freeway systems daily, accumulating millions upon millions of miles to deliver products and goods around the globe. But with fuel economy rates ranging anywhere from 4 to 8 mpg, they aren’t doing the ozone layer any favors. The EPA calculates that medium- and heavy-duty lorries contribute around 20 percent of the greenhouse gasses in the United States transportation sector, despite making up just 5 percent of vehicles on the road.

BMW is hoping to address that with a new material transport truck. Like many of its brethren, the vehicle has 18 wheels and 40 tons of capacity, but it releases exactly zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Why? This big rig is fully electric.

Born from a partnership between BMW, Dutch manufacturer Terberg, and German freight company Scherm Group, the tractor-trailer is responsible for transporting shock absorbers, steering systems, and springs between Scherm’s logistics center and the BMW Group plant in Munich eight times a day. According to BMW, it’s the first vehicle of its kind to go into regular service in Europe.

BMW electric semi truck

“With our electric truck, we are sending another strong signal for sustainable urban mobility,” said Hermann Bohrer, head of the BMW Group Plant in Munich. “We are contributing to reducing emissions in the city and are proud to be the first automotive manufacturer in Europe to use an electric truck of this size to transport materials on public roads.”

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When fully charged, the silent semi is capable of driving up to 62 emission-free miles, which is all it needs for a full work day. It takes about three to four hours to replenish, and compared to similarly sized truck with a diesel engine, BMW’s version will save 11.8 tons of CO2 annually.