White Tern tractor on expo floor

Tern, named after the Arctic seabird, is a new dedicated zero-emission truck brand from Hino and Hexagon Purus.

Photo: Jim Park

A new Class 8 battery-electric truck brand is entering the U.S. market, the product of a long-term agreement between Hino Trucks and Hexagon Purus.

Launched at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas, Tern is a dedicated zero-emission truck brand. Its first vehicle model, the RC8, is a battery-electric Class 8 tractor tailored for the U.S. market.

As the news release pointed out, this launch aligns with the Advanced Clean Fleets regulation in California and gives fleets another option to decarbonize their supply chain, especially in target applications like metro-regional routes, food and beverage logistics, and similar routes where the tight turning radius and 4x2 chassis offer practical benefits.

"If you run less than 200 miles a day, like 95% of the loads in the regional sector, [you can] come home at night and trickle charge," said Todd Sloan, executive vice president of battery systems and integration for Tern, during a press conference at ACT Expo.

"Spend a little less capex on your charging infrastructure, get your 50 kilowatt chargers that are $40-$50 grand. Don't bother with massive fast charging. The utilities aren't ready for that anyways, for the most part.

"For medium to small fleets, this makes a lot of sense," he said. "Buy 10, 20, 30 trucks, you'll see a three-year payback if you charge off-peak when the utility rates are 10-15 cents a kilowatt."

Tern's Todd Sloan said the RC8 is ideal for applications where trucks can trickle-charge at night, saving fleets the hassle and expense of fast-charging infrastructure. - Photo: Jim Park

Tern's Todd Sloan said the RC8 is ideal for applications where trucks can trickle-charge at night, saving fleets the hassle and expense of fast-charging infrastructure.

Photo: Jim Park

The Hino-Hexagon Purus Partnership

The Tern RC8 battery-electric Class 8 truck is built on Hino's XL Series 4x2 chassis and equipped with Hexagon Purus' zero-emission technology, Tern features proprietary battery systems, auxiliary modules, and power modules.

Hexagon Purus, according to the announcement, has years of development of zero-emission drivetrains for heavy-duty trucks.

Glenn Ellis, president of Hino Trucks, said in a news release, “Our partnership with Hexagon Purus introduces a highly reliable Class 8, 4x2 tractor option into the electric truck market, catering to a wide range of applications. We are excited to see Tern launched in California, where fleet electrification is imperative.”

White Tern tractor-trailer navigating urban intersection

Target applications for the Tern include metro-regional routes, food and beverage logistics, and similar routes where the tight turning radius and 4x2 chassis offer practical benefits.

Photo: Tern

“Tern RC8 delivers the comfort, reliability and safety that drivers and fleets want, and it’s purpose-built to be a very practical truck for operators integrating zero-emission trucks into their fleets,” said Morten Holum, CEO of Hexagon Purus, in a news release.

The new brand name, he said, "embodies the endurance and efficiency of the Arctic Tern, renowned for its light weight and long migratory journey — a trusty companion you can always rely on.”

More About the Tern RC8 Electric Truck

The new Tern RC8 uses a U.S.-assembled Hino chassis, an e-Axle from Dana, and battery cells supplied by Panasonic Energy. The batteries will be manufactured initially in Japan, before transitioning to De Soto, Kansas, starting in 2026.

Manufactured in Hexagon Purus’ new facility in Dallas, Texas, the Tern RC8 is scheduled for serial production in late 2024.

"In order to sell, service, and provide the support customers demand, you need that world class dealer network," said Hino's Glenn Ellis. - Photo: Jim Park

"In order to sell, service, and provide the support customers demand, you need that world class dealer network," said Hino's Glenn Ellis.

Photo: Jim Park

Sloan explained to reporters that while Hino provides the rolling chassis and cab, Tern is the OEM of record. "Hino is our distributor and supporter," he said.

"We take the rolling chassis from Hino, which is built in West Virginia," Sloan explained. "That is sent to our new manufacturing facility in Mesquite, Texas, and that's where it's assenbled. The battery packs will be made in our Kelowna, British Columbia, facility, for now. The battery cells come from Japan, for now.

"In 2026, we will be moving the production of the battery module and pack to the Dallas facility. The battery cell from Panasonic will be built in Kansas. At that point it will be a 100% American-made battery-electric drivetrain."

Ellis pointed out that the relationship between Tern and Hino goes back to 2020 when it embarked on Project Z, its introduction into the EV market. (Hino displayed an early development prototype of its heavy-duty electric truck at the ACT Expo last year.)

"We were looking for strong partners with which to tackle the challenge of EV products," Ellis told reporters in Las Vegas. "As you can see, the result of that is a world class RC 8 that we've introduced here today."

Key Features of the Tern RC8 Battery-Electric Truck include:

  • A 100% battery-electric platform with an industry-leading short wheelbase of 165 inches
  • A gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 68,000 lbs. targeting applications of approximately 200 miles in regional city duty cycles, addressing 95% of use cases, according to the announcement.
  • Dual Hexagon Purus Gen3 269kWh battery packs in a 750-volt, 538 kWh configuration, providing substantial power and range for targeted duty cycles
  • Recharge rate of 241 kW
  • Peak/continuous horsepower of 680hp/494hp
  • Peak torque 38,350 ft/lbs.

Hino Dealers to Provide Tern Sales, Support, and Service

Tern trucks will be available exclusively through the Tern dealer network and will use Hino’s network for total support and service.

"You can have a great truck, but to be really successful, you need great sales and service network," Ellis said. "That's where our dealer network comes into play. In order to sell, service, and provide the support customers demand, you need that world class dealer network.

"We will tap into our dealer network and we will sign our dealers as Tern dealers to offer the product from the initial launch in California. We will begin signing on dealers this summer so we'll be ready for the introduction later this year."

About the author
Jim Park

Jim Park

Equipment Editor

A truck driver and owner-operator for 20 years before becoming a trucking journalist, Jim Park maintains his commercial driver’s license and brings a real-world perspective to Test Drives, as well as to features about equipment spec’ing and trends, maintenance and drivers. His On the Spot videos bring a new dimension to his trucking reporting. And he's the primary host of the HDT Talks Trucking videocast/podcast.

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