PORTLAND, OR. Setting a goal to provide “the broadest e-truck fleet” on the market by 2021, Daimler Trucks North America on Wednesday quietly—nearly silently—rolled out a Freightliner eCascadia heavy-duty electric truck and a Freightliner eM2 106 medium-duty electric truck in a presentation for investment analysts and business media.
“We want to become the global No. 1 when it comes to e-mobility, as we are when it comes to combustion engines,” said Martin Daum, a member of Daimler Board of Management for trucks and buses. “How are we going to do that? We work close together with our customers, gaining jointly the knowledge of how to use electric trucks.”
Obliquely referring to Tesla Inc.’s recent, high-profile entrance into truck manufacturing, Daum added that any notion Daimler Trucks were “stirred up” and forced to react “can’t be more wrong.”
“We have been working for many years on these concepts, it’s just that the market was not right,” Daum said.
Indeed, last year’s US introduction of the Class 4 FUSO eCantor already is providing “highly valuable data” and “real-life experiences,” which will be used in the development of other products.
“It will be an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process,” Daum emphasized. “We were first-movers on electric trucks and we strive to provide the leading electric truck in each relevant segment. With the foundation of the global 'electric mobility group,' we maximize the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology field.”
Similarly, DTNA President and CEO Roger Nielsen—who arrived on stage in a Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-liner C2 electric school bus dubbed Jouley—outlined the learning curve involved in adopting e-technology, from working out the practical range of a vehicle to managing parasitic losses of energy, troubleshooting and packaging batteries in the variety of wheelbase options in the school bus product line.
“We know we’re faced with a number of challenges when it comes to e-mobility, but we are dedicated to developing solutions to answer these challenges of the future,” Nielsen said. “The Jouley e-bus is a great example of our commitment to developing solutions that match the unique needs of our customers. DTNA has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to developing clean propulsion systems, and we will lead the charge in e-mobility.”
Freightliner plans to deliver an Electric Innovation Fleet of 30 vehicles to customers later this year for further testing under real-world operating conditions. Both electrified Freightliner models are designed to fit specific applications, carefully identified through an extensive co-creation process with customers.
The eCascadia boasts up to 730 peak horsepower. The batteries provide 550 Kwh usable capacity, a range of up to 250 miles and have the ability to charge up to 80% (providing a range of 200 miles) in about 90 minutes. The Class 8 tractor is designed for local and regional distribution and drayage.
The eM2 has up to 480 peak horsepower. The batteries provide 325 Kwh of usable capacity, a range of up to 230 miles and have the ability to charge up to 80% (providing a range of 184 miles) in about 60 minutes. The eM2 is Freightliner’s electrified solution for local distribution, pickup and delivery, food and beverage delivery, and last-mile logistics applications.
Series production on the e-bus, with a range of 120 miles, will begin next year.
“We are all in for tackling the electrification challenge for North America,” Nielsen said. "We will be ready with series production vehicles at precisely the time we need to be—at precisely the time it makes sense for our customers.”
Along with four vehicles on hand Wednesday, Daimler Trucks commercial electric vehicles breakthroughs already entering the market include:
· More than 100 electric vehicles built by Freightliner Custom Chassis in 2012 with supplier Electric Vehicles International (EVI) on the MT-55 walk-in van chassis are still on the roads today
· The fully electric Mercedes-Benz Citaro is based on the global bestseller Mercedes-Benz Citaro, going into series production in late 2018; and
· The Mercedes-Benz eActros is a fully electrified heavy-duty distribution truck starting operations with the first customers in the second half of 2018.