Mercedes-Benzgave us our first look Wednesday at its fully electric, 26-ton Urban eTruck. Referring to rapid advances in electric vehicle motor performance and charging times, Wolfgang Bernhard, a member of Daimler’s Board of Management who is the head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, said that “the time is right for the electric truck.” That doesn’t mean that the Urban eTruck will be in production soon, or even in the next couple of years.
Daimler’s Fuso Canter E-Cell lightweight delivery truck has been in customer testing since 2014, but now Mercedes is introducing the heavier, medium-weight vehicle for use in local distribution. The 26-ton capacity, three-axle Urban eTruck will have a range of 200 kilometers (about 125 miles).
Light- and medium- weight local delivery trucks will not be the extent of Mercedes-Benz electric trucks. “We intend to establish electric driving as systematically as autonomous and connected driving,” said Bernhard. The advantages of zero emissions, quiet operation, and the ability to drive in restricted urban zones all influence the push to develop electric trucks for city delivery.
The rear of three axles will be electrically driven, with electric motors next to the wheel hubs that are derived from a design Mercedes-Benz currently uses with its Citaro hybrid bus. The European Commission allows one extra ton of gross vehicle weight for trucks with alternative drives, which enables the eTruck chassis to carry approximately the same cargo weight as an internal combustion engine-powered 25-ton truck.
The eTruck’s three lithium-ion battery modules have a combined capacity of 212kWh, resulting in a driving range of 200 km, which the company says is the typical mileage of local delivery trucks. More battery modules can be added to increase the range. The trucks will have European-standard Combined Charging System Type 2 connectors for 100kW charging power. A full recharge will take from two to three hours. For safety, the batteries are located inside the frame to protect them from crashes.
While the company did not state an exact date for the eTruck’s market launch, it will be at least a few years. In its corporate release, Mercedes stated: “Series production for urban short-radius distribution is conceivable at the beginning of the next decade.” Therefore, 2020 is the likely first year the Urban eTruck will actually be in production.