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Daimler unveils first fully electric heavy truck

Daimler Trucks unveils the 26t Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck in a world first for heavy truck mobility

The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, suitable to 26 tonnes, was unveiled in Stuttgart.
The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, suitable to 26 tonnes, was unveiled in Stuttgart.

Top truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks has presented the world’s first fully electric heavy truck, the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, suitable to 26 tonnes, and labelled electric commercial vehicles the future in an urbanised world.

Restricted-access zones and regulations on air and noise pollution are a growing consideration as urban population densities rise across large metropolises worldwide: the UN expects there to be nine billion people by 2050, with roughly 70% of them living in cities.

Daimler in turn believes that in the context of growing urbanisation the future of urban distribution means fully electric, zero-emission trucks and expects the market-wide launch of this technology by the beginning of the next decade.

Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, noted: “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.”

Large cities like as London or Paris are already considering a ban on internal combustion engines in city centres, while rapid improvements in battery storage capacity is significantly lowering the costs associated with fully electric propulsion.

Daimler Trucks expects the costs of batteries to lower by a factor of 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.

Technically the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck.

However, the developers at Daimler Trucks have replaced the entire conventional drivetrain with a new electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs – derived from the electric rear axle which was developed for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid bus.

The power is supplied by three lithium-ion battery modules, resulting in a range of up to 200 km, and thanks to the location of the motors adjacent to the wheel hubs, the batteries are housed in a crash-proof location inside the frame.

Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks: “With the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, we are underlining our intention to systematically developing the electric drive in trucks to series production maturity. We will now begin to integrate customers to gain valuable joint experience with respect to the operating ranges and the charging infrastructure in daily transport operations.”

In the light distribution sector, Daimler Trucks has already been impressively demonstrating the day-to-day suitability of the fully electric truck in customer trials with the Fuso Canter E-Cell since 2014.

In the first fleet trials in Portugal, with ranges of over 100 kilometres the vehicles exceeded the average daily distance covered by many trucks in light-duty short-radius distribution, and cross more than 50,000km over the course of a year yielded operating costs that were 64% lower on average.

Dr Wolfgang Bernhard added: “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.”

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Construction Week - Issue 754
Nov 23, 2019