Image courtesy of Daimler Truck AG.

Electric Semi Truck Drives From Germany To Turkey

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Electric semi trucks are coming. Well, a few are here already, but the market is not near the same level as the electric car market, where adoption rates have ramped up rapidly in recent years. The electric semi truck market is still largely about demonstration vehicles, pilot programs, and very early adoption. However, it feels like we’re on the verge of a real market forming. As part of that, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is showing what’s possible with its newest electric semi truck tractor as it ramps up production.

Image courtesy of Daimler Truck AG.

The Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 Tractor is now being produced in the Mercedes-Benz Wörth factory, and the electric semi truck model just demonstrated its prowess by driving from that factory to the Mercedes-Benz Trucks site in Aksaray, Turkey. The eActros 300 Tractor as well as older electric models from Mercedes-Benz — the eActros 300 4×2 and the eActros 300 6×2 — traveled the route. That’s 3,000 kilometers, going through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

The trip aligns with the start of series production of this electric semi truck. “In preparation for the impending start of series production for the eActros 300 Tractor in autumn, road endurance testing will take place at our Aksaray site, among other locations,” Dr. Christof Weber, Head of Global Testing at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, says. “We also used the demanding route there as an additional test. Our conclusion: the e-truck has mastered the varied route through Central and Eastern Europe with ease and is ready for series production.”

Image courtesy of Daimler Truck AG.

One interesting thing about this journey, as well, is that Mercedes-Benz used all public EV charging stations. It didn’t cheat by stopping to charge at other Mercedes-Benz facilities with charging stations hidden in the garage or back behind a locked gate. In short, Mercedes-Benz is showing us that these electric semi truck tractors are ready for action. Concerns about charging are not what they once were, or should not be. That said, it is also clear that the range and charge speed of these trucks are not good enough yet for these trucks to travel the same long-distance routes of non-electrics in the same time. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.

Image courtesy of Daimler Truck AG.

Regarding the specifics of the new electric tractors, Mercedes-Benz writes: “The vehicle is compatible with all common European semitrailers, taking into account the maximum permitted total tractor/trailer combination length. The electric semitrailer tractor is based on the same technology as the eActros 300/400. Three battery packs, each with an installed battery capacity of 112 kWh, enable a range of up to 220 km on a single battery charge. The eActros 300 Tractor can be charged with up to 160 kW: The three battery packs need a little more than an hour to be charged from 20 to 80 percent at a standard DC fast charging station with a charging current of 400 A. As part of a series of tests, the electric truck already successfully passed the Arlberg Pass in Austria last year. Some sections of the tests were carried out at an altitude of over 1,800 meters above sea level. Series production of the e-truck is scheduled to start in the fall of this year.”

Unfortunately, 220 km (137 miles) of driving range will not get a truck as far as a driver would normally like to go before taking a break. And then after a couple hours of driving, having to charge for an hour is not ideal either. A professional truck driver cannot be expected to drive for 1½ to 2 hours, charge for an hour, drive for 1½ to 2 hours, charge for an hour, etc., etc.

What these electric trucks could be great for is medium-distance trips. They can drive regionally to make a delivery an hour or two away and then charge onsite as they are unloaded and before they are needed for their next job. That makes business sense, especially considering how much money they could save from cheaper operation and maintenance (presuming the price is not too much higher than for a non-electric, which it shouldn’t be at this stage).

One point to consider, though, is that the older eActros models offer longer range if that’s needed. “The eActros 300 Tractor was accompanied by two eActros 300 (4×2 and 6×2). The battery-electric Mercedes-Benz eActros for heavy-duty distribution haulage has been rolling off the production line at the Wörth plant since 2021. The batteries of the eActros comprise either three (eActros 300) or four battery packs (eActros 400), each of which offers an installed capacity of 112 kWh. With four battery packs, the eActros 400 boasts a range of up to 400 kilometers,” the German auto giant notes. “The technological centerpiece is the drive unit — an electric rigid axle with two integrated electric motors and a two-speed transmission. Both liquid-cooled motors generate a continuous output of 330 kW as well as a peak performance of 400 kW. In addition, when driving with foresight, electrical energy can be recovered through recuperation. The energy gained when braking is fed back into the batteries of the eActros, and is then once more available for driving.”

So, there are different options, including just from the one brand Mercedes-Benz Trucks, not to mention Volvo Trucks, Tesla, and others.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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