Mercedes-Benz showcases first fully electric truck for heavy distribution operations

daimer etruckThe market launch of this technology is conceivable for Daimler Trucks at the beginning of the next decade. (Image source: Daimler Trucks)Daimler Trucks has showcased Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck – first fully electric truck with an admissible total weight of up to 26 tonnes – at Stuttgart in Germany today

According to the manufacturer, this means that in the future, heavy trucks will take part in urban distribution operations with zero local emissions and hardly a whisper. The market launch of this technology is conceivable for Daimler Trucks at the beginning of the next decade.

Wolfgang Bernhard, responsible for Daimler Trucks & Buses at the board of management, said, “Electric drive systems previously only saw extremely limited use in trucks. Nowadays costs, performance and charging times develop further so rapidly that now there is a trend reversal in the distribution sector: the time is ripe for the electric truck. In light distribution trucks, our Fuso Canter E-Cell has already been undergoing intensive customer trials since 2014. And with the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, we are now electrifying the heavy distribution segment up to 26 tonnes. We intend to establish electric driving as systematically as autonomous and connected driving.”

Better air quality, lower noise and restricted-access zones are now important keywords in large metropolises worldwide, because more and more people worldwide are moving to cities. The trend is continuing: The UN predicts a global population of nine billion people by 2050, with approximately 70 per cent of them living in cities. In future, it will be necessary to transport goods in urban environments for increasing numbers of people – and with the lowest possible emissions and noise. Cities such as London or Paris are considering a ban on internal combustion engines in city centres in the future. That means that there will be fully electric trucks ensuring the supply of humans with food or other goods of daily needs.

Better battery capacity with lower costs

Until quite recently, the use of fully electric drives systems in trucks seemed to be unimaginable – especially because of the high costs of the batteries coupled with a low range. The technology has now become much more mature. Daimler Trucks expects the costs of batteries to lower by the factor 2.5 between 1997 and 2025 — from 500 Euro/kWh down to 200 Euro/kWh. At the same time, performance will improve by the same factor over the same period – from 80 Wh/kg up to 200 Wh/kg.

Innovative battery technology for Urban eTruck

Technically the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck. In addition, however, the developers at Daimler Trucks have totally revised the drive concept. The conventional drive train is replaced by a new electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs, derived from the electric rear axle. The power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three lithium-ion battery modules. This results in a range of up to 200km – enough for a typical daily delivery tour.

As the EU Commission is in favour of increasing the permissible gross vehicle weight of trucks with alternative drives by up to one tonne, this will more or less level out the weight surplus of the electric drive. This will also raise the permissible gross vehicle weight of the Urban eTruck from 25 to 26 tonnes, which will bring the original extra weight down to 700kg compared with a directly comparable IC-engined truck.

Fuso Canter E-Cell

Marc Llistosella, head of Daimler Trucks Asia and President & CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks and Bus Cooperation (MFTBC), noted, “The current generation Canter E-Cell offers our customers transport services, which are not only environment-friendly but also economical. Our test in Lisbon revealed savings of around 1,000 euros per 10,000km in comparison to diesel trucks.“

"We at Fuso have now acquired extensive experience in the development of local emission-free commercial vehicles and we will consequently pursue this development also in future,” continued Llistosella.

Fleet trials

Since April 2016, Stuttgart and the parcel service provider Hermes have been testing five Fuso Canter E-Cells in Germany. First results from this customer trial are expected at the beginning of 2017.

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