Daimler reveals road-ready eActros electric trucks, featuring power output of 250 kW and two battery packs with a 240 kWh capacity
In 2016 Mercedes-Benz Trucks announced the development of a heavy-duty electric truck concept. Less than two years later the resulting model, the eActros, is now ready for its first road service.
The company will soon deliver ten vehicles in two variants –with a gross vehicle weight of either 18 or 25 tonnes – for testing under real-life conditions.
The eActros joins Daimler’s wider electric truck offering, which includes the eCanter made by the company’s Asian brand FUSO (launched last autumn), the Mercedes-Benz eVito and the incoming Citaro city bus and eSprinter van.
Having first shown the eActros at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover in 2016, Mercedes-Benz said it received a wave of positive feedback from government and potential users – with around 150 serious enquiries made in Germany alone.
Following this the group assembled an interdisciplinary team within Daimler to design a vehicle capable of everyday distribution operations. “A number of technical and, above all, business-related issues remain outstanding, key among them the range and cost of the batteries, but also the infrastructure required for their use as part of customers’ commercial fleets,” Mercedes-Benz noted.
The eActros is based on the frame of the existing Actros model, although the architecture has been reconfigured to incorporate an electric drive system. The drive axle is based on the ZF AVE 130 used a low-floor portal axle in Mercedes-Benz hybrid and fuel-cell buses, although the company says it is being “fundamentally revised” for the eActros application.
“We have developed a vehicle that has been configured from the outset for electric mobility. Compared with our prototype, quite a few technical changes have been made: the power supply is now ensured by eleven battery packs in all – and wherever possible we have used already proven components that are ready, or very close to ready, for use in series production,” commented Mercedes-Benz Trucks head Stefan Buchner.
The axle housing has been redesigned and is mounted in a higher position, to increase ground clearance to more over 200 mm. The drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. These three-phase asynchronous motors are liquid-cooled and operate at 400V, offering output of 125 kW and 485 Nm each. The gearing ratios convert this into 11 000 Nm each, resulting in driving performance on a par with that of a diesel truck. The maximum permissible axle load remains 11.5 tonnes.
Crucially, Mercedes-Benz has also crammed in a significant amount of battery power. Spread across two banks and eleven packs for a total of 240 kWh, the truck has a range of up to 200 km (presumably dependent on load and conditions). Packs are spread throughout the chassis with three in the frame area, and another eight underneath the cargo bay. For safety reasons, the battery packs are protected by steel housings, which give way and deform in the event of a collision, diverting energy past the batteries without damaging them.
These packs are already used in the Group’s EvoBus, shortening the development time and reducing costs. They also supply power to the trucks’ other components such as the air compressor for the braking system, the power steering pump, the air-conditioning system and potentially to a refrigerated body, if equipped.
Mercedes-Benz says charging takes 3-11 hours, based on charging capacity of 20 to 80 kW from a mobile charging device at a fleet depot, and uses Combined Charging System (CCS).
Technical graphic Mercedes-Benz eActros
Ten companies in Germany and Switzerland will be participating in the trial, including Dachser, Edeka, Hermes, Kraftverkehr Nagel, Ludwig Meyer, pfenning logistics, TBS Rhein-Neckar and Rigterink, Camion Transport and Migros.
“We are now passing both two- and three-axle variants of our heavy-duty electric truck, the Mercedes-Benz eActros, into the hands of customers. Initially the focus will be on inner-city goods transport and delivery services – the ranges required here are well within the scope of our eActro,” Buchner said.
The eActros will be trialled across a variety of sectors, with palettes ranging from groceries to building supplies and raw materials. That will also see vehicles fitted with a variety of bodies according to customer applications including refrigerated box bodies, tankers and tarpaulin sides.
Customers will test the vehicles for twelve months, after which the trucks will go to a second round of users for a further year. “This will enable us to satisfy the many requests we have had from customers and to gain even more insight. Our aim is to achieve series-production and market maturity for a range of economically competitive electric trucks for use in heavy-duty transport operations with effect from 2021,” said Buchner.
The findings of the research will then inform future work on the vehicles in the form of on-going optimisation measures. Mercedes-Benz says that the results will be published, giving potential users the opportunity to optimise route planning or develop new business models for logistics processes.