Mercedes-Benz unveiled its electric truck back in 2016, but now we will see the electric Actros on the road. The ten eActros models, in two variants, with a GVM of 18 to 25 tonnes, will be handed over in the next few weeks to customers, who will be testing their everyday feasibility and economic efficiency under real-life conditions.
In Germany alone, around 150 very serious enquiries were received. There are a number of technical and business-related issues to be ironed out, like the range and cost of the batteries, but also the infrastructure required for their use as part of customers’ commercial fleets.
“Daimler Trucks is synonymous with innovation leadership, allied to a realistic and pragmatic attitude,” said Martin Daum, the Daimler AG Board Member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses. “This is particularly true when it comes to electric mobility. We now want to work together with our customers to move swiftly forward with the development of our Mercedes-Benz eActros to the point where it becomes a viable proposition in tough everyday operations – both technically and commercially.
“We are beginning this process by creating an innovation fleet and will be supporting its testing in the day-to day logistics environment of our customers. This will enable us to establish just what remains to be done, in terms of technical matters, infrastructure and service, to make our Mercedes-Benz eActros competitive.”
The customers involved in this first trial come from a number or sectors, from groceries to building supplies and raw materials. The vehicles are being used by customers for tasks that would otherwise be completed by vehicles with conventional diesel engines.
The drivers of the eActros are trained specially to work with the vehicle. The customers will be testing the vehicles in real-life operations for twelve months, after which the trucks will be going out to a second round of customers for a further twelve months.
The eActros uses an Actros chassis and cab, but the vehicle architecture has been configured specifically for an electric drive system, with a high proportion of specific components. The drive axle, for example, is based on the ZF AVE 130, already used in hybrids and fuel buses by Mercedes-Benz.
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 with a nominal voltage of 400 volts. They generate an output of 125 kW each, with maximum torque of 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 payload is 11.5 tonnes and the range, at 200 km comes from two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 240 kWh. The batteries are accommodated in eleven packs, all in all: three of these are located in the frame area, the other eight are to be found underneath.
For safety reasons, the battery packs are protected by steel housings. In the event of a collision, the mountings give way and deform, so diverting the energy past the batteries without damaging them. The high-voltage batteries do not just supply energy to the drive system, but to the vehicle as a whole. Ancillary components such as the air compressor for the braking system, the power steering pump, the compressor for the cab air-conditioning system and, where relevant, the refrigerated body, are also all electrically powered.
The batteries can be fully recharged within three to eleven hours, assuming a realistic charging capacity of 20 to 80 kW from a mobile charging device at a fleet depot. The normal on-board electrical network uses two conventional 12-volt batteries and is charged from the high-voltage batteries via a DC-DC converter.