Daimler Unveils Two Heavy-duty Electric Trucks in Race with Tesla
Daimler Trucks' Freightliner brand revealed two new all-electric trucks that will be put into use for testing later this year. The eCascadia Class 8 tractor and eM2 medium-duty truck will hit the roads to see how they perform in real-world use.
The Freightliner eCascadia has a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 80,000 pounds and delivers 730 horsepower. Its 550-kilowatt-hour battery pack is expected to offer a driving range of 250 miles per charge, and can be recharged up to 80 percent (that's about 200 miles) in 90 minutes' time. It is intended for regional distribution. The eM2, meanwhile, has a GCWR of 26,000 pounds, a range of 230 miles, 480 hp, and can be 80-percent recharged in just 60 minutes. It is aimed at local, shorter-distance delivery and "last-mile" logistics.
The two electric trucks are designed for "dedicated, predictable" routes that average 45 to 150 miles per day, Freightliner says. Thirty of the trucks will join Freightliner's Electric Innovation Fleet this year, with the goal of putting them into series production in 2021. They'll join some existing electric truck models: the eCanter box truck and the Jouley electric school bus. Daimler also has the E-Fuso Vision One concept and the eActros is being tested in Europe.
Electrification isn't the only avenue of future development that Daimler Trucks is exploring. This week the company announced plans to open an automated truck research and development center near Portland, Oregon. It will work hand-in-hand with existing Daimler Trucks R&D facilities in Stuttgart, Germany, and Bangalore, India.
Though Daimler says it doesn't expect that autonomous trucks will be commercialized any time soon, the company is still working on developing technologies that would be necessary for such trucks. Daimler Trucks has been testing "platooning" technology, in which trucks drive together at much closer following distances than human drivers can safely manage. There are plans in the works to demo platooning tech in the US soon.
Daimler Trucks North America is also heading a project to develop a high-voltage standard for charging electric commercial vehicles. It's part of a working group called CharIn, or the Charging Interface Initiative.
Electrified trucking looks to be a growing business. Volvo Trucks is also launching an all-electric truck, called the FL Electric, while Tesla plans to launch its own electric semi. (www.chinatrucks.com)
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