The first production Zeus Electric Chassis electric work trucks are being built to spec for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Four of the Class 5 trucks for SMUD are being upfit with truck bodies from the Knapheide Manufacturing Co.
The vehicles include an electric stake truck, open-body service truck, closed-body service truck with crew cab, and a dump truck. The electric stake truck will be one of the first off the line at the Zeus production facility in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
“The best upfit solutions start with a conversation. To make fleets more productive, we need to understand what our customer wants to do, and tailor our solution to meet their needs,” says Chris Weiss, vice president of Engineering at Knapheide. “As our customers explore the opportunities with electric upfits we need to define up-front their power needs via work and range. The electric chassis is a great solution overall as it provides the power source for all the electric truck equipment. If more power is needed, more battery capacity can be incorporated into the chassis to meet the customer’s needs.”
By including body OEM Knapheide early-on in their chassis design development, Zeus leadership kept the focus on getting the work done to meet customer needs, enabling the body OEMs to do what they are uniquely qualified to do.
To best fit a customer’s needs with an OEM, Knapheide strives to be chassis-agnostic. Weiss continues that when you have a newer OEM on the scene, “you have to understand each other’s business model because you’re in it together, in manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and service.”
The truck bodies are built at Knapheide’s Quincy, Illinois, manufacturing facility, and delivered to the Zeus White Bear Lake, Minnesota, facility for installation. They are procured through Custom Truck One Source (CTOS). Integration of the truck body with their configurable chassis is one of the key differentiators for the Zeus Power Platform. While the traditional channel-to-market process for work trucks can require 4-5 months of cut-and-paste to integrate the truck body, this is not the case with Zeus. With a chassis design that keeps the battery within the framerails and incorporates pre-engineered system solutions, the upfit installation is cleaner, quicker, and safer – particularly important considering the high voltage lines that connect the chassis power to the body upfit.