FOCUS: World’s first fully electric heavy load truck
Daimler Trucks has launched the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, the first fully electric truck with an admissible total weight of up to 26 tonnes.
This means that in the future, heavy trucks will take part in urban distribution operations with zero local emissions. Daimler has indicated that the market launch of this technology is conceivable at the beginning of the next decade.
In the light distribution sector, Daimler Trucks has already demonstrated the day-to-day suitability of the fully electric truck in customer trials with the Fuso Canter E-Cell since 2014.
"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,” said Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, responsible for Daimler Trucks & Buses at the Board of Management.
“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," he added.
Growing urbanisation requires fully electric trucks
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. In fact, in 2008 a threshold was crossed in which more people now live in cities than in the countryside.
The trend is continuing: The UN predicts a global population of nine billion people by 2050, with approximately 70 percent of them living in cities.
This will require the transport goods in urban environments for an increasing number of people – and with the lowest possible emissions and noise as environmental regulations tighten. London and Paris are considering a ban on internal combustion engines in city centres in the future, opening the door to demand for fully electric trucks.
Fast enhancement of battery capacity with significantly lower costs
The use of fully electric drive systems in trucks seemed to be unimaginable until recently – especially because of the high costs of the batteries coupled with a low range, but the technology has now become much more mature.
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 – from 80 Wh/kg up to 200 Wh/kg.
"With the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, we are underlining our intention to systematically develop the electric drive in trucks to series production maturity,” says Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “This means that we will begin to integrate customers, so as to gain valuable joint experience with respect to the operating ranges and the charging infrastructure in daily transport operations. Because we think the entry of this technology into the series production is already conceivable at the beginning of the next decade."
Innovative battery technology for Urban eTruck
The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck. However, the drive concept has been significant revised: the entire conventional drivetrain has been replaced by a new electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs. This was derived from the electric rear axle which was developed for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid bus.
The power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three lithium-ion battery modules. This results in a range of up to 200 km – enough for a typical daily delivery loop. Because the motors are adjacent to the wheel hubs, the batteries are housed in a crash-proof location inside the frame.
Fuso Canter E-Cell: 64% lower operating costs
Where light-duty trucks are concerned, all-electric drive is already a reality. This is demonstrated by the Fuso Canter E-Cell. Fuso already presented the first generation of the fully electrically powered Canter in 2010. In 2014 this was followed by the second generation, which proved its worth 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.
Under widely varying operating conditions, the trucks covered more than 50,000 km within one year. In the process the vehicles were locally emission-free and, taking power generation into account, reduced CO2 emissions by 37 percent compared to diesel engines. The operating costs were 64 percent lower on average.
"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 respectable savings of around 1000 euros per 10,000 kilometres in comparison to diesel trucks,” says Marc Llistosella, head of Daimler Trucks Asia and president & CEO of Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks and Bus Cooperation (MFTBC).
"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. At the Commercial Vehicles show IAA in September, will take a step further towards series production with our next generation under the new name: Fuso eCanter,” he added.