• With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz is putting its electric truck out on the road with customers.

    Mercedes-Benz eActros: Sustainable, fully electric and quiet.

    Photos: Kilian Bishop

Innovation fleet of ten electric trucks.

In 2016 Mercedes-Benz Trucks became the first manufacturer in the world with a heavy-duty electric truck. The technology pioneer is now taking the logical next step: putting its electric truck, the eActros, out on the road with customers. Ten vehicles in two variants, with a gross vehicle weight of 18 or 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. The long-term aim: locally emission-free and quiet driving in urban environments with series-production trucks.

With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz is putting its electric truck out on the road with customers.
Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, presented at the 2016 Commercial Vehicles IAA, is a three-axle distribution truck with an electrically powered rear axle and a range of up to 200 kilometres.

Heavy-duty electric distribution truck.

At the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover, back in 2016, Mercedes-Benz displayed its concept for a heavy-duty electric distribution truck for urban areas. The feedback to the technical feasibility of building such a vehicle was positive across the board – from the general public, politicians and customers. In Germany alone, around 150 very serious enquiries were received. Using expertise from across the whole Daimler Group, an interdisciplinary team from Daimler Trucks has designed a vehicle capable of coping with everyday distribution operations, a small number of which are due to be handed over to customers very soon. 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 the customers’ commercial fleets.

Testing in day-to-day logistics.

“Daimler Trucks is synonymous with innovation leadership, allied to a realistic and pragmatic attitude. 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”, explains Martin Daum, the Daimler AG Board Member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses.

“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 Mercedes-Benz eActros”, adds Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “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.”

With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz is putting its electric truck out on the road with customers.

Vehicles with a variety of bodies.

Participating in the fleet test are ten customers from a variety of sectors in Germany and Switzerland. These customers all distribute goods via the road network – but in very different sectors and categories. The palette ranges 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 range of requirements means that the vehicles are fitted with a variety of bodies. According to need, refrigerated box bodies, tankers or tarpaulin sides are used.

Drive system with two e-motors.

The basis for the eActros is provided by the frame of the Actros. Otherwise, however, 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 that has already proved its worth as a low-floor portal axle in hybrid and fuel-cell buses from Mercedes-Benz and is now being fundamentally revised for the eActros. The axle housing has been completely redesigned and is mounted in a significantly higher position, thereby increasing the ground clearance to more than 200 mm. The drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. 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.

With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz is putting its electric truck out on the road with customers.
With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz is putting its electric truck out on the road with customers.

Range of up to 200 kilometres.

The maximum permissible axle load stands at the usual 11.5 tonnes. The energy for a range of up to 200 kilometres is provided by two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 240 kWh. These have already proved their worth in service with EvoBus GmbH – so can no longer be considered as prototypes. “Synergies within the Group like these allow us to pool our experiences, shorten development times and, of course, also save costs”, according to Stefan Buchner.

Batteries do not just supply the drive system.

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.

Discharged 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 charging standard used is the Combined Charging System, CCS. The LV on-board network made up of two conventional 12-volt batteries is charged from the high-voltage batteries via a DC-DC converter. This ensures that all relevant vehicle functions such as lights, indicators, brakes, air suspension systems and cab systems remain operational in the event of the high-voltage network failing or being switched off. The high-voltage network can only be activated if both LV batteries are charged.