xos trucks

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve officially rebranded today after the report of a new company name was leaked by Trucks.com earlier. The rebrand represents a new stage for us as we begin to look at product offerings in our pipeline that move beyond our core business of building commercial vehicle hardware.

Xos is short for ‘exosphere’ — the outermost section of the planet’s atmosphere — and is representative of our investment in developing cutting edge technologies and mobility solutions that exceed anything on the present market.

“We see Xos as the ‘os’ for fleets — the intersection between energy and software,” said Dakota Semler, CEO and co-founder of Xos. “That the name is cheeky, playful, and maybe slightly irreverent doesn’t hurt either.”

The number of fleets making the transition from diesel to electric mobility is increasing and Xos is aiming to help fleets through that transition with more than just a truck.

The new name will be followed by an expanded product offering and focus beyond trucks, which we’re excited to share more about in the coming months. Catch us at the ACT EXPO in Long Beach next week where we’ll be announcing even more big news!

Collaboration Fuels the Fleet Strategy of Tomorrow

Originally published on UPS Longitudes.

Time is of the essence for developing electric vehicles. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone.

The commercial transportation industry is evolving at breakneck speeds in an attempt to keep up with ever-tightening emissions regulations and rising demand for zero-emissions solutions.

But if we’re going to dramatically transform the world of transportation through widespread electric vehicle adoption, we can’t work in silos.

As a recent McKinsey study points out, collaboration and “arrangements that reach beyond the traditional borders of the truck industry” are essential for supporting necessary fundamental shifts in the commercial vehicle ecosystem. The competitors of today might just be the partners of tomorrow.

We need to get EVs on the road and the necessary charging infrastructure in place so fleets can modernize. Startups innovating in that space are tackling a huge degree of complexity and can benefit by tapping into some of the structure put in place by incumbents.

Below are four key reasons collaboration is essential for the future of commercial transportation:

  • This is a tremendously capital-intensive industry, and it’s unrealistic to think one company (especially startups) can absorb innovation costs.
  • Legacy companies often lack the freedom and flexibility required to innovate but have tremendous resources at their disposal.
  • The industry is large enough (and growing rapidly) to allow for strategic collaboration without risking cannibalization.
  • The intense regulatory environment is outpacing industry players’ abilities to respond fast enough.

Marrying technologies

With those realities in mind, Xos Trucks is thrilled at the opportunity to marry our innovative battery technology and electric chassis platform with UPS’s unparalleled fleet expertise in developing our Class 6 last-mile delivery van.

Our experience working closely with the UPS team every step of the way has offered invaluable knowledge sharing and a perfect example of what effective collaboration can yield.

Fleet electrification will take creativity and innovation at every level to support widespread successful deployments. Collaboration between fleets, government, utilities, suppliers and beyond will allow us to develop pragmatic solutions for short- and long-term electrification that not only makes sense for the environment and public health but also for a fleet’s bottom line.

This is how Xos Trucks is approaching the process:

Vehicle Development

We’re aware of the challenges companies face when developing electric solutions in a silo. This awareness encouraged Xos to leverage a partnership approach with top suppliers, maintenance providers and assembly partners so we could focus on engineering our industry-leading battery technology.

As a result of this collaborative process, we’ve scaled quickly and delivered innovative, deployable solutions for our clients.

Not facing the pressure to vertically integrate, Xos developed a versatile and powerful modular electric powertrain – customizable for endless vocational applications in a short period of time.

Fleet Integration and Maintenance

We work hand in hand with fleets to craft deployment plans that make sense for their duty cycles, infrastructure and internal resources.

We develop a rich understanding of a fleet’s operations so we can deliver a solution that seamlessly integrates with their existing fleet and meets the demands of their business.

This also includes working with internal maintenance teams on training and education – in addition to establishing partnerships with third-party service providers to support a successful deployment.

Charging and Infrastructure

When considering an electric vehicle deployment of any size, questions surrounding utility service upgrades and charging infrastructure will always come into play.

This is why we bridge the gap between utilities and fleets, working with both parties to determine ideal deployment locations, necessary facility and utility upgrades and the most efficient yet cost-effective charging solutions that fit the fleet’s unique demands.

Government and Incentives

A widespread understanding of the benefits of getting more EVs on the road at both the state and federal level has spurred significant funding opportunities across the United States. Fleets are interested in taking advantage of these early-adopter incentives while they’re available. We help them both understand and maximize those opportunities.

This includes extensive collaboration with relevant governmental agencies and building out a team of internal policy experts here at Xos that can help advise and facilitate incentive opportunities for the fleets of the future.

Time is of the essence, and this is not a challenge to face alone. During the past few years, we’ve studied fleets’ needs and how the regulatory environment and manufacturer limitations affect their goals.

We need to work together to get these vehicles on the road and the necessary infrastructure in place so fleets are poised for long-term emissions compliance and cost savings.

Xos’ Unique Approach

Video Source: Freightwaves

Watch Xos COO Giordano Sordoni sharing insights into Xos’ unique approach to making electric fleets a reality with FreightWaves’ Paul Hampstead at the Transparency18 conference.

We’ve focused on developing our own batteries that are right for the job. Rather than leverage existing technology, the batteries in our vehicles are purpose-built for the rigorous demands of commercial applications.

We believe that fleet operators shouldn’t have to decide between what’s best for business and what’s best for the planet. Our trucks not only save operators on fuel, maintenance, and compliance, but often cost less than their diesel alternative after available incentives. We’re delivering vehicles that not only make sense environmentally, but also economically.

We’re working with industry-leading partners to build and service our vehicles. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we’re taking a practical approach to making electric fleets a reality today.

Watch the full interview to learn more!

Six Months Later, an Xos Truck Hits the Road

Over a year ago, my co-founder Giordano Sordoni and I set a goal: Get electric trucks on the road. In December of 2017, we took a major step in reaching our goal when we built our first fully-electric class 8 semi, the ET-One.

Since we launched the ET-One six months ago, we’ve learned a lot. For starters, we realized electric trucks aren’t going to solve everyone’s problems. While electric technology can be a game changer for a lot of fleets, battery powered vehicles aren’t right for absolutely everyone. For example, we’re focused on fleets in the short and medium ranges rather than long haul independent operators. We also learned our understanding of fleets goes a long way, and while we aren’t the largest company in the industry, our customers can appreciate that we’ve walked in their shoes before and understand their pain points.

Most importantly, this experience has reaffirmed a belief Gio and I have held since the beginning: No one can get fully-electric commercial vehicles on the road by themselves. This industry is too capital intensive and has so many moving parts (literally) that if we really want to get these vehicles on the road today and not ten years from now, we need to throw out the playbook.

That’s why today, we’re thrilled to announce that UPS, the leading global logistics company, is our first partner and customer. As experienced fleet operators, UPS will help us understand what we need to do to get fully-electric fleets on the road. UPS will be field testing one of our class 6 trucks in the Los Angeles metro area for six months, and will hopefully be adding many Xos trucks to its fleet soon after.

Startups often have the mobility to innovate and take calculated risks, but it’s incredibly difficult to scale innovation due to financial, regulatory, and infrastructure constraints. On the flipside, legacy companies and their massive operations don’t always have this mobility, but budget and infrastructure constraints are less of a concern. There is a profound importance of legacy companies at the moment that can’t be overstated. The automotive ecosystem is undergoing a transformation and we’re seeing an influx of old school companies partnering with startups in a meaningful, progressive way.

Xos’ partnership with UPS signals a change in an industry that is in constant flux. In 2018, we are faced with a mix of unique challenges: Regulations, tariffs, quality of life concerns in U.S. cities due to pollution and noise. Establishing strategic partnerships to bridge the gap between idea and execution is the crucial first step that the transportation industry needs to take, and today, we’re excited to take that first step.


Keeping the Trucking Industry Alive by Going Electric

Why I joined an unknown startup with no money

“Have you been drinking?” That’s what my old boss from Navistar asked me last March when I let him know that I was thinking about accepting a job at an unknown and unfunded startup that had its sights set on building electric trucks.

“No. Should I be?” I quipped back. I accepted the job at Xos Trucks the next day. Nine months later, in December, we delivered and launched our first prototype–the ET-One, a fully-electric class 8 semi-truck.

The ET-One, Xos Truck’s first prototype

I expect many of my colleagues might find themselves asking the same questions I was asking myself before I became Xos Trucks’ Chief Product Officer last year. Building commercial trucks is a capital-intensive business, and my former boss and mentor had plenty of reason to raise his eyebrows at my decision. But by electing to change course and join a “risky” startup, I felt as though I was making the choice to save my career. Having been in the auto industry for 23 years, between jobs at Navistar and BYD Motors, I knew it was time for a change.

I was born and raised in Mumbai in the ‘70s and, like many of my peers, I was always interested in mechanics. I wanted to be a pilot at first but planes turned into trucks, and before I knew it, I was in Chicago for college and even founded my school’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers. I then became a chief engineer at Navistar, leading the product strategy technical team among several other roles at one of the largest commercial trucking manufacturers in the United States.

My career was sailing along, but something started to change around eight years ago. The EPA began to pass down rules that mandated lower emissions standards in the trucks we were making. To meet the demands of these regulations, I saw Navistar and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Ford and GM invest massive amounts of money to make micro-improvements that were barely meeting these new emission requirements. Addressing compliance each year was becoming a daunting, expensive, and unsustainable process. Our customers were also feeling that shift.

It was around then that electric vehicle technology was making vast improvements, becoming cheaper and, for the first time, looking like a viable alternative to the cumbersome and intricate diesel engine. Given the path we were going down with the EPA on our backs every year, the idea of designing a new kind of truck from scratch was becoming immensely appealing. That’s when I chose to make the shift to electric and moved to BYD as Director of Truck Development.

But the real leap of faith was yet to come. A few years into the job at BYD, the phone rang. On the other end were two laid-back but brilliant twenty-four-year-olds from sunny Los Angeles who told me they were building an electric semi and wanted my help.

I spent the next few weeks contemplating the fate of the industry and knew that, deep down, I wanted to be part of a movement that challenged the industry and brought smart design and sustainability back. I felt like OEMs had forgotten about what mattered and there was a reluctance to think outside of the box. Dakota and Gio, Xos’ founders, had the passion I had been looking for, and I valued their authenticity and commitment to the good of the industry instead of to the stale protocols that had reigned for far too long. I had made up my mind.

The early days with the ET-One at Dakota’s ranch

I went home that night and told my wife that I was thinking about leaving a 16 billion dollar company for a $1,600 one. She told me I was crazy but smiled, and asked me to call my old boss and mentor–the rest is history.


Xos Trucks: Why EVs, Why Us, and Why Now?

Electric vehicles are nothing new. In fact, you can trace the history of the electric car way back into the 1800s. But electric vehicles are certainly having a moment now, late in 2017. They’re probably a more popular topic of discussion than they’ve ever been, thanks to some major players in transportation and technology making splashy predictions and product announcements in this space. What’s more, where EVs were once thought of as bug-shaped playthings for Silicon Valley hippies, they’re now being seriously considered as viable options in the otherwise old school and entrenched automotive industry. As someone who cares deeply about the environment and about our sustainable future, I can only say: better late than never for the world to start having this conversation.

Part of the issue, though, with so many of the plans currently being announced for the future of electric transportation (especially in the heavy-duty trucking and fleet management industries) is that while everyone wants to get in on the action, they are also kicking the can way down the road. Some are suggesting things like massive infrastructural overhauls to the transportation grid that won’t even be feasible, much less put into practice, for many years. These moonshot goals for electric transportation are not misguided—more power to the people who are getting everyone to think about how we take care of ourselves and our planet—but can’t we achieve something sooner?

When I founded Xos Trucks along with my friend and COO Giordano Sordoni, our number one goal was to build a practical EV solution that could be implementable and on the road now (or at least in the very near future). We were tired of seeing all these grand ambitions for an electric future that’s way off on the horizon. We wanted to see something done now and we knew that would take building an electric platform from the ground-up.

I’m extremely proud to announce that we succeeded. In six months’ time, after all sorts of trials and research and ideation, we can finally announce Xos Trucks’ electric heavy-duty semi-prototype to the world: the ET-One.

We wanted to show the world that you don’t have to be a big original equipment manufacturer, like a Ford or GM, or a tech mogul with deep pockets to start making progress in this space. With no outside funding, we assembled a team of experienced, gutsy, and passionate engineers and went to work researching and designing the ET-One in-house. This meant rearranging and retrofitting old chassis, experimenting with new battery design, and constantly iterating on our learnings. It was scrappy, it was challenging, but it was also fun. And now we have an electric semi that is on the road and is on its way to being cost-competitive with (and much simpler and more stable from an engineering perspective than) the diesel guzzlers that currently dominate the heavy-duty fleet space.

The natural question, and one I get often, is, why? Why would two guys with no engineering background want to take on such a challenge? For me, it’s simple: I grew up around the trucking industry and have been in love with cars and trucks my whole life—I also know the heavy cost that all-diesel fleets have on the environment and I’ve always felt there was a better way. I’ve been driven by this idea ever since I was 14, when I first successfully converted an old truck’s diesel engine to run on vegetable oil. The answer is simple for Giordano, too. Anyone who grew up like he did, with terrible asthma due to a pollution-riddled Los Angeles, would feel the same way. We’re all united by this idea here at Thor: there has to be a better way. And there is.

The future of electric transportation is happening now. We hope the DIY mentality we encourage and foster at Xos’ lab spreads to other teams in this space. We hope we can get right down to business in 2018. We plan to partner with players in transportation and fleet management to begin implementing EVs at every point in the supply chain. We’re in this together, and we’re ready to take the next step forward toward a sustainable future now, not in fifteen or twenty years.

We’re excited to have you along for the (electric) ride. We’re so proud to show off ET-One to the world, and we’ve got big plans for 2018. See you on the road.

– Dakota