Electric Island Is Getting a Boost

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Electric Island is Getting a BoostDaimler Truck
  • Daimler Truck North America reveals plans for expansion of its Portland HQ, including a new Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) training center next to Electric Island.

  • DTNA will also build a new engineering facility, expected to cost some $40 million, that will focus on development of battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in North America.

  • In the past few years DTNA has also worked on combining electric powertrains with SAE Level 4 tech, in preparation for a future where trucks could run hub-to-hub routes without a driver.

The Freightliner eCascadia has been one of the first battery-electric semi trucks to go on sale, beating the Tesla Semi to market.


But the turn to electrification in the trucking sphere will require more than just increased BEV truck sales. Building the charging infrastructure for heavy trucks will be its own process, one that will unfold over years and decades, while training dealers, drivers, and mechanics on electric trucks will require new efforts as well.

Freightliner's parent company Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) recently revealed plans for a new Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) training center next to Electric Island—its first heavy-duty electric charging site—along with a new engineering facility located at its campus in Portland, Oregon.

A new DTNA engineering site, expected to cost some $40 million and cover about 110,000 sq-ft, will also consolidate development for battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in North America.

The new training center, meanwhile, will be used for Daimler's dealer network as well as a center for community stakeholders interested in zero-emissions trucks. This particular project is expected to cost $3 million.

Electric Island, which is where the new center will be located, has already been the site of a first-of-its-kind charging station that opened in 2021, constructed in a partnership with Portland General Electric.

"Our partnership with local and regional economic development leaders to support DTNA’s investment adds to the region’s competitiveness and will provide opportunities for our skilled workforce in manufacturing and engineering for years to come," said Business Oregon Director Sophorn Cheang.

Speaking of the Pacific Northwest region, it's difficult to ignore than Portland is not far from the border of a state that has made plans to phase out the sales of gas- and diesel-engine cars and light trucks by the year 2030, coupling that effort with extensive investments in charging infrastructure along Interstate-5 and other major routes in the region.

Portland is right along that I-5 stretch, which goes all the way down to Los Angeles and Southern California, making it one of the prime candidates for a charging corridor for commercial semi trucks, at least when the commercial industry will embrace long-haul routes.

At the moment, most EV truck efforts are mostly aimed at shorter and more predictable hub-to-hub routes or drayage operations. So plenty of infrastructure work has to still happen before electric long-haul trucks will become commonplace.

The two new facilities near DTNA's headquarters will be built just as the truck maker accelerates work toward the debut of SAE Level 4 trucks in 2027, which could operate even without a driver aboard.

Will we see electric semi trucks become commonplace by the end of the decade, or will this industry remain diesel into the 2030s? Let us know what you think in the comments below.