Knapheide provides bodies for first Zeus trucks to be delivered

By Chad Elmore01 March 2022

Stake truck expected to be first delivered to SMUD.

SMUD Four of the Zeus trucks for SMUD are being upfit with truck bodies from Knapheide Manufacturing Co.: an electric stake truck, open-body service truck, closed-body service truck with crew cab and a dump truck. (Illustration: Zeus)

The first production Zeus Electric Chassis Inc. electric work trucks are being built to spec for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) with expected delivery in March.

Four of the trucks for SMUD are being upfit with truck bodies from the Knapheide Manufacturing Co: a stake truck, open-body service truck, closed-body service truck with crew cab and an electric dump truck. Zeus said an electric stake truck will be one of the first off the line at its 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,” said 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. With the unique approach of the Zeus design, if more power is needed, more battery capacity can be incorporated into the chassis to meet the customer’s needs.”

By including body supplier Knapheide early-on in their chassis design development, Zeus leadership could keep the focus on getting the work done to meet customer needs, enabling the body OEMs to do what they are uniquely qualified to do.

“Other EV companies are either not knowledgeable about commercial applications, or they’re intensely focused on a certain application like last mile delivery,” said Weiss. “Either way they don’t understand the complexity of the commercial market, both in terms of channel-to-market and design constraints. And they are struggling with it.”

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, Ill., manufacturing facility, and delivered to the Zeus facility in Minnesota for installation. They are procured through Custom Truck One Source (CTOS).

Zeus said the holistic integration of the truck body with their configurable chassis is one of the key differentiators for the Zeus Power Platform. With a chassis design that keeps the battery within the frame rails and incorporates pre-engineered system solutions, the company said upfit installation is cleaner, quicker, and safer – particularly important considering the high voltage lines that connect the chassis power to the body upfit.

The “No Compromises” Zeus all-electric chassis was created to provide a solution to fleet managers looking to adopt electric work trucks into their vocational class 4 to 6 work truck fleets.

“It’s important for Zeus to demonstrate to our customer that they can continue to get the same tried-and-true truck body on our electric chassis as they are accustomed to having. Working with Knapheide and CTOS on these initial truck deliveries allows us to do just that,” said Bob Grinstead, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Zeus.

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