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Clean Transport

Tesla’s Not The Only Company Doing Serious Electric Truck Business

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With the recent first sales of the Tesla Semi, the company is making a big buzz. Not only is it great for Tesla, but it’s great to see companies like Pepsi and Frito-Lay switching their local and regional runs to electric. As charging infrastructure for electric trucks proliferates, and as versions of the Semi equipped for over-the-road trips (with a sleeper cab) come out, we’ll see more and more truck miles go from diesel to cleaner electric power.

But, with all of the buzz and the shots of Tesla’s trucks (clad in Pepsi and Frito-Lay logos) appearing on social media, it’s easy to forget that Tesla isn’t the only company working on electric trucks. In this article, I want to share a couple of stories from the “other guys” that CleanTechnica‘s editors scoured from the internet. While maybe not as exciting as the Tesla Semi, there’s a lot going on in the wider electric truck world!

Mercedes-Benz Sells 50 eActros LongHaul Trucks

Dachser, a logistics service provider, plans to add 50 Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul vehicles (presented at this year’s IAA Transportation) to its European fleet. The global company from Kempten has signed a Letter of Intent with Mercedes-Benz Trucks for this purpose. Dachser intends to use the eActros LongHaul 6×2 swap body vehicle configured with 1,120 mm storage height. Dachser is thus expanding its electric vehicle fleet significantly. The e-truck , which can travel around 500 km on one charge, is expected to be ready for series production by 2024.

The eActros LongHaul is being designed by development engineers at Mercedes-Benz Trucks to meet the same durability requirements as a comparable conventional heavy long-distance Actros. This includes 1.2 million kilometers on the road over ten years. The batteries used in the eActros LongHaul are of the lithium-iron phosphate cell (LFP) variety.

The eActros LongHaul batteries boast a lengthy service life and more usable energy. At charging stations with an output of one megawatt, the battery packs can be charged from 20 to 80 percent in less than half an hour. Three battery packs offer a total capacity of 600 kWh, while two electric motors generate 400 kW continuously and over 600 kW at peak performance.

“Dachser is a very valuable customer for us in sustainable transport. Dachser was already a committed testing partner during the development of the eActros 300/400 for heavy-duty distribution transport,” said Stina Fagerman, Head of Marketing, Sales and Services at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “We are all the more pleased that the logistics company is now also planning to rely on the eActros LongHaul in the next step, reinforcing our e-strategy.”

DACHSER adopted battery electric vehicles in 2018, such as the FUSO eCanter and the eActros, as part of its sustainable city delivery concept called “DACHSER Emission-Free Delivery.” In eleven European cities, our vans and trucks deliver all consignments locally CO2-neutral — as standard — within a defined inner-city area. Lastly, on the last mile of distribution we use electrically supported cargo bikes to complete final shipments. In 2018, the pilot project in Stuttgart won the “Sustainable Urban Logistics” competition by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Environment Agency.

“We have had very good experiences in city logistics with the performance of BEV vehicles. It was therefore logical to take the next step — long-distance driving — together with Mercedes-Benz Trucks,” says Stefan Hohm, Chief Development Officer (CDO) at Dachser.

Volvo Increases Electric Truck Offerings

Image provided by Volvo Trucks

Volvo Trucks is expanding its electric truck offerings with the introduction of rigid versions of the Volvo FH, Volvo FM, and Volvo FMX. This makes it easier for transport companies to adopt electric vehicles in urban and regional areas. Available in a variety of battery, cab, and chassis options, the new heavy rigid trucks can accommodate electric superstructures for specialized transport assignments such as goods distribution, refuse collection, and construction work. Production of the new variants will begin in early 2023.

“With these new, electric trucks we are making it easier than ever for even more customers to go electric, and for cities to shift to zero-emission vehicles for virtually all transport flows,” said Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks. “Our customers can have these trucks custom-built for their specific operation, to cut emissions while getting the same functionality as the diesel truck they are using today.”

Many urban areas are plagued by exhaust fumes from diesel trucks. However, it is now possible to use electric trucks for these purposes. Electric trucks don’t produce harmful emissions, and also create a better working environment for drivers since they are quieter — leading to improved quality of life for residents.

They won’t only be capable, but they’ll be versatile. The new rigid trucks have a battery capacity between 180–540 kWh. This flexibility, together with the number of batteries applied to a truck, provides for a wide range of potential operations. A company could save money and weight for local runs with a smaller pack, or go for long-range over-the-road runs with over 500 kWh of battery storage.

“These trucks can handle all kinds of transports, from lighter to heavy loads,” said Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks. “Customers can choose the exact battery capacity they need for their assignments, and by not carrying more batteries onboard than needed, the payload can increase. In short, we have the optimal and most cost-efficient electric transport solution, no matter what the task is.”

Volvo Trucks says it is the only truck manufacturer with a full range of electric trucks in production today. The company’s target is that half of its global total truck sales will be electric by 2030 at the latest.

The Truck Industry Might Not Get Drug Kicking And Screaming To EVs

With cars and light trucks, getting other manufacturers to build an EV was often like pulling teeth. Sure, under pressure from Tesla, Nissan made the dedicated-platform LEAF and Chevrolet tried to approach it from the plugin hybrid angle with the Volt. But, many other manufacturers phoned it in with weird EV conversions where batteries were stuck in the trunk or other bad places.

It’s like they were trying to throw EV fans and governments a bone until EVs went away again. But when EVs didn’t go away, car companies had to make a serious effort.

It’s good to see that the truck industry is taking a different approach. Instead of being forced to build electric trucks, and then half-assing it, they’re putting in real effort to make real trucks.

Featured image by Mercedes-Benz.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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