Daimler and Tesla bring fully-electric HGVs a step closer

Commercial Motor
August 5, 2016

Daimler and Tesla have revealed plans to bring fully electric-powered HGVs to market in the next few years.

Daimler previewed its 26-tonne, battery-powered urban truck at the eTruck campus in Stuttgart last week (pictured). The truck is based on a Mercedes-Benz 6x2 chassis and was only a partial unveil as Daimler is holding some cards (such as the cab) close to its chest until next month’s IAA CV Show in Hannover. 

The Urban eTruck is still a work in progress and is expected to be in full production in the next decade. 

Daimler said that in that time technological advancements to batteries will give the electric urban distribution vehicle a realistic working range of 200km. Payload will be approximately 1.7 tonnes less than an conventional diesel but Daimler said an expected EU exemption will allow an electric 6x2 truck to go to a new maximum of 27-tonne GVW. This will reduce the weight penalty to a mere 700kg.

Going down to lighter weights, Daimler is further down the testing line with the battery-powered 6-tonne and 7.5-tonne GVW Fuso Canter E-Cell, which have recently completed more than 50,000km of testing in Portugal with no major problems reported. 

Daimler recently placed a test vehicle with parcel delivery specialist Hermes for real-world testing in Stuttgart. While it is still early days, Hermes reported that driver acceptance was positive and the vehicle performed to specification, although the 100km range of the 7.5-tonne truck is an issue.

Both the eTruck and Canter E-Cell are a major step for Daimler. Head of Daimler Trucks Wolfgang Bernhard said: “The time is right, and Daimler is determined to be at the forefront of this new technology. Electric trucks are now an integral part of Daimler’s portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Tesla, the electric car manufacturer known for its Roadster and S models, is to expand its electric vehicle product line to address all major segments including Semi trucks. 

Founder Elon Musk said at a recent press briefing: “The Semi is in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year.”

Musk also spoke of variants such as a pick-up truck.

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