Tesla poaches execs from Daimler for electric truck project

How soon will we see fully electric semi trucks on our highways?

Tesla Motors' history with Daimler goes back at least seven years, when the Mercedes-Benz parent acquired a stake in the then-fledgling electric-vehicle maker. Now, the relationship may be a bit less convivial, though, as the California-based company appears to be poaching some folks from Daimler's grant-winning SuperTruck project, according to Electrek. Tesla semis, anyone?

Tesla had already tapped Jerome Guilen, former general manager of Daimler's Cascade, to work on the electric Model S sedan about six years ago. More recently, Tesla brought aboard Evan Chenoweth, who previously worked on the SuperTruck's hybrid-engine setup.

And that work was successful. Last year, Daimler won $20 million in grants from the US Department of Energy for the second phase of the DOE's SuperTruck project. By pairing an 11-liter diesel engine with an electric motor, the SuperTruck was able to achieve fuel economy of 12 miles per gallon equivalent. By car standards, that's a gas guzzler, but by heavy-duty truck standards, it's downright green, as the SuperTruck doubled the fuel-efficiency goals the US DOE set out for the project.

Daimler acquired a 10-percent stake in Tesla in 2009, and provided Tesla with some engineering support. Daimler sold its last remaining shares in Tesla in 2014.

Where Tesla is going with its truck-development program is anyone's guess, but, unlike SuperTruck, anything involving Tesla will go the all-electric route as opposed to diesel-hybrid. This summer, Tesla chief Elon Musk unveiled his second "master plan," for the company, and included a program that would involve the development of both heavy-duty trucks and buses. Tesla may have prototypes of those vehicles as soon as next year.

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