Delivering food and products to people, disposing of waste, supplying goods to industry, trade and commerce, taking away the finished products, and growing sensitivity to exhaust and noise emissions – the transport of goods in towns and cities around the world is faced with ever greater challenges. While trucks remain indispensable, the demands on them are increasing. As an alternative to the consistent gradual reduction of emissions through ever tighter regulations, the ideal solution is local emission-free mobility – in future also for trucks up to a permissible gross vehicle weight of 26 tons. Daimler Trucks is a pioneer in this field.
Electric drives for trucks becoming economically viable
Although electric drives long appeared to be out of the question for trucks, the economic viability of battery-electric trucks is now starting to emerge. This is because of major advances in battery technology: between 1997 and 2025, the costs are likely to fall by 60 percent. At the same time, the power will increase by around 250 percent over the same period.
Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck
The latest proof of this development is provided by the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, which shows the way to emission-free mobility in short-radius distribution with heavy-duty trucks. Technically, the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty three-axle short-radius distribution truck from Mercedes-Benz. Apart from that, however, the developers at Daimler Trucks have totally revised the drive concept, the entire conventional drivetrain being replaced by an electrically-driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs. Their maximum output is 2 x 125 kilowatts (167 horsepower), while the peak torque is 2 x 500 Newton-meters. In combination with the gearing, the torque at the wheel reaches 11,000 Nm.
The power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three modules of lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 212 kWh. This results in a range of up to 200 kilometers – normally enough for a typical day’s delivery round. Depending on the desired range, the modular battery pack can be customized by adding or removing batteries. The Urban eTruck is connected to the charging station using the Europe-wide standardized Combined Charging System (CCS) Type 2 connector. With a charging power of 100 kW, the fully discharged batteries are charged to 100 percent in two to three hours.
As the European Commission is in favor of increasing the permissible gross vehicle weight of trucks with alternative drives by up to one ton, this will more or less cancel out the weight disadvantage of the electric drive. This will raise the permissible gross vehicle weight of the three-axle rigid truck from 25 to 26 tons, which will bring the original extra weight down to 700 kilograms compared with a directly comparable IC-engined truck.
Fuso Canter E-Cell: all-electric drive is already a reality
As far as light-duty trucks are concerned, the all-electric drive is already a reality. This is demonstrated by the Fuso Canter E-Cell. Following a successful fleet trial in Portugal, the Canter E-Cell has now satisfactorily completed around six months of the first fleet trial for trucks of this kind in Germany. It will be available in future under the name of Fuso eCanter. There will be news about it at the IAA International Motor Show for Commercial Vehicles, which begins on September 21, 2016.
Its battery packs with a total capacity of 48 kWh are mounted on the left and right sides of the frame. The electric motor has an output of 110 kW (147 hp), while the peak torque is 650 Nm. The range of the Canter E-Cell is over 100 kilometers, depending on how the vehicle is used. In Europe, the batteries are charged with the same, standardized connector used also by the Urban eTruck. The vehicle can be fast-charged to 80 percent of its total capacity in just one hour.
Alongside Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, Fuso is the third major brand of Daimler Trucks and a leading manufacturer of “green” light-duty trucks. For example, Fuso Canter Eco Hybrids are in service all around the world. The second generation of the truck has been in production since 2012. The first generation of the all-electric Canter E-Cell was launched by Fuso in 2010, with the second generation following in 2014. In parallel with the current fleet trial in Germany, Fuso is already working on the third generation, which will make the electrically-powered Canter even more efficient and suitable for everyday use.