AAll well-known truck manufacturers are working to bring more electrically-powered commercial vehicles to the road, along with efforts to supply them with hydrogen as an energy carrier. Now Mercedes-Benz is moving forward and celebrating the market first of its electric Actros, initially conceived as a single vehicle for heavy-duty regional distribution. The permissible total weight as a three-axle vehicle with a wheelbase of 4.60 meters is 27 tons.
Towards the end of this year the possibility will also be created to hook up another trailer so that the maximum 40 or 44 tons can then be moved. In addition, Daimler Truck wants to bring an electric tractor to market by 2024. With this so-called long-haul truck, ranges of up to 500 kilometers should be possible.
The E-Actros doesn’t go that far, it comes with three or four battery packs placed in the stair frame, which provide 336 or 448 kWh of energy. Depending on the application, this is sufficient for up to 300 kilometers. The direct current is loaded up to 175 kW, Daimler believes that more is not advisable. The possibility of using alternating current is deliberately omitted. It is also a question of costs, and they are still immense. Such an E-Actros, which like the conventional Actros is also built at the Daimler plant in Wörth am Rhein, costs three and a half times. However, Jean-Marc Diss, head of Daimler Truck for Europe, hopes to be able to build and sell around 600 units in 2022. Supply chain problems have not played a major role. Up to 80 percent of the additional costs would be covered in Germany through various funding funds.
Daimler Truck wants to enter the electric age with energy: in 2030 only half of all new vehicles should have a diesel engine and in 2040 this should be the end. To get there, it is not certain that a complete package is offered and that the customer receives extensive advice before making a purchase. Is the vehicle suitable for the routes to be completed? Where is it charging? Daimler also wants to help with the purchase of charging stations for the depot.
An E-Actros, which at first glance cannot be distinguished from a diesel truck, is powered by a 300 kW electric motor from an unknown supplier. The 400 hp is enough to survive in traffic, even under full load. In addition to the camera rear-view mirrors and quiet operation, the relatively stiff steering is striking, especially compared to the latest Actros as a towing vehicle, whose 12.8-liter six-cylinder has been revised and is now four percent cheaper.
The E-Actros generally has air suspension: During a one-hour test drive around the Wörth plant, we needed an average of 59 kWh per 100 kilometers at partial load. However, everyday real life values with test vehicles in actual use are more significant. A logistics worker drove more than 8,000 kilometers in winter and had an energy requirement of 84 kWh per 100 kilometers. A meat wholesaler calculated a value of almost 104 kWh per 100 kilometers with a refrigerated box and a mileage similar to that of transport performance. 9% of the energy required was used for cooling.
Regional traffic with programmable routes is already possible exclusively electrically, but a big question must be raised for long-distance traffic. Separate charging stations for high-performance trucks on motorways would be needed. It remains questionable whether these can be achieved in the medium term together with the further expansion of passenger car stations and by whom. But Daimler wants to take care of that too. You have big plans.