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Electric truck maker Xos evolves into full-fledged manufacturer

Xosphere monitoring, measuring and service support offered for new products

Startup Xos Trucks revealed purpose-built electric trucks, moving from a powertrain components integrator closer to a full-fledged original equipment manufacturer offering  end-to-end services to fleets.

Distinctive Xos styling

Xos showed two purpose-built chassis cabs Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Each bears looks distinctive to the 7-year-old company.

Xos is competing for market share with Navistar International’s Class 6 eMV electric truck, which is in early production in San Antonio. Also in the mix are legacy chassis makers working with bodybuilders, conversion companies “repowering” diesel powertrains into electric trucks and a host of startup electric chassis developers.

The Xos MDXT is a Class 6 or 7 medium-duty electric chassis cab. It can travel up to 270 miles on a single charge. It offers a maximum 16,000 pound feet of torque. Gross vehicle weight ranges from 23,000 pounds for Class 6 to 33,000 pounds for Class 7. Varied body configurations include a box truck, a refrigerated unit and a flatbed.

A three-quarters view of a white Xos chassis cab/box truck in motion on a street
The Xos XTMD Class 6 medium-duty electric truck. (Photo: Xos Trucks)

Republic National Distributing Co. ordered five of the MDXT models, Xos leaders said during the product reveal. Rebublic is the nation’s second-largest beverage distribution company.

The Xos HDXT is a Class 8 heavy-duty electric tractor designed for regional-haul fleets. It can travel up to 230 miles on a single charge. Xos claims its 36,583 pound feet of torque is the benchmark for a commercial electric vehicle. 

With a 56,000-pound payload and 798 horsepower, the HDXT semi weighs in at a gross combined vehicle rating of 82,000 pounds. That includes 2,000 pounds that California allows to offset the weight of batteries. 

“These new truck platforms will have their own Xos look and feel,” Giodano Sodoni, Xos chief operating officer and co-founder, told FreightWaves “I think people will stop thinking that we might just be an upfitter or a retrofitter.” 

A black Xos Class 8 refrigerated semi-truck on a desert highway framed by mountains.
The Xos HDXT Class 8 chassis cab. hauling a refrigerated (Photo: XOS Trucks)

Xosphere fleet intelligence

Xos also announced its Xosphere total cost of ownership-focused fleet intelligence software platform. Built on top of its connected vehicle technology, the platform allows fleet managers to:

●     Monitor real-time performance and receive alerts and over-the-air updates.  

●     Measure and minimize their fleet’s total energy cost.

●     Access service and support at the click of a button.

“When you’re going electric, it’s not just about acquiring a vehicle,” said Dakota Semler, Xos CEO and co-founder. “It’s about deploying the charging infrastructure, making sure you have spare parts and maintenance on-site and that you have an understanding of your utility tariffs and what this is going to mean for your TCO.”  

Xosphere calculates a truck’s state of charge, the route it needs to service and whether the existing infrastructure is sufficient to support it. 

“That’s a really valuable tool because today you need to go to three or four disparate suppliers to be able to have that solution in place,” Semler said.

Prototypes of a 400 kilowatt-hour mobile charging trailer with battery storage capable of charging five trucks at a time are in customer testing. 

An Xos silver mobile power station in a parking lot.
A prototype of the Xos mobile charging trailer. (Photo: XosTrucks) 

Flexible manufacturing

Xos builds its current products in flexible contract operations in Tennessee with Fitzgerald Manufacturing Partners.

Robert Fitzgerald’s father, Tommy, owned Fitzgerald Glider Kits, formerly the leading maker of refurbished older engines integrated into new Class 8 truck bodies. A messy squabble between Fitzgerald Glider and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency led major OEMs to stop providing bodies for mating with engines built before stringent pollution controls.

“We don’t put everything into one massive million-square-foot facility that we’re only going to use a little chunk of in the early years,” Sordoni said. “We have a much, much more flexible, nimble and capital-efficient manufacturing strategy.”

Xos’ second build final assembly site is a Metalsa plant in Mexico where fully dressed axles, frame rails and cross members come together before batteries are added.

Bodybuilders including Morgan Olson and Utilimaster then add step van bodies for customers ranging from Merchants Fleet to Loomis armored cars to FedEx Ground delivery vans. Xos has purchase orders for more than 550 vans from FedEx.

“What Robert is providing in Tennessee is the facility and access to local talent, especially in the last few years, [when] we’ve seen a really, really tight labor market,” Sordoni said. “It’s been really helpful to have a partner who has a big Rolodex of people in eastern Tennessee who have spent the last couple decades putting trucks together.”

Quality internalized

Metalsa invested early in Xos through its venture capital arm. It is the largest frame rail OEM in North America.

Xos also has built out its automated battery lines to focus on quality engineering demanded by work truck customers.

“We’ve made it a part of our process,” Semler said. “New product engineering, new product development and product manufacturing launches are ingrained. We’re building something that really is going to stand the test of time and last 10, 15, 20 years.”

Being responsible for the battery system, the software that makes it a connected vehicle and building a modular chassis allow Xos to tailor products to a fleet’s needs. 

“We can deliver value by bringing that acquisition cost closer to a point where it’s in parity with diesel and be accountable to that fleet maintaining a lower total cost of ownership than their existing diesel trucks,” Semler said. 

A deep dive since deSPACing

Xos (NASDAQ: XOS) completed a business combination in August 2021 with special purpose acquisition company NextGen Acquisition Corp. It received $575 million in SPAC proceeds before expenses with an enterprise value of $2 billion. 

From the first day of trading, Xos has been buffeted by the disdain for transportation SPACs. With the markets now in bear territory, Xos’ market capitalization stands at $407 million. Shares closed Tuesday at $2.25.

Consistent hiring — Xos has grown from 15-20 employees in 2016 to more than 300 — and new product lines exhausted all but $129.7 million through Q1. Xos can tap $125 million through a stock-for-cash equity line of credit with an affiliate of Yorkville Advisors Global.

“We feel really good about the progress in the business and our cash position,” Semler said. “Of course, the stock price is not where we want it to be. EV deSPACs all got hammered pretty hard. But for us, we didn’t have any bad press events, no SEC investigations or anything like that.”

Merchants Fleet’s $2B EV makeover continues with order for Xos step vans

Xos sells 120 electric vehicles to FedEx Ground ISPs

Xos Trucks share drop 14.5% on 1st day of public trading

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1).

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.