Mercedes-Benz Trucks revealed this week that it will unveil its first electric truck aimed at long-distance transport at the IAA Transportation 2022 in Hannover. The truck maker will take the wraps off the 40-ton eActros LongHaul as a working concept prototype, ahead of the deliveries scheduled for 2024.
The battery-electric truck has already been undergoing testing on closed courses starting this spring, with the first trials on public roads scheduled to start later this year. The semi is promised to offer a range of around 500 kilometers, or 310 miles, and will be capable of "megawatt charging," as Mercedes calls it, allowing it to charge its batteries from 20% to 80% in well under 30 minutes.
The truck maker has shared a teaser image of the upcoming electric truck, which is expected to be unveiled in near-production form, revealing much of its design. Until now, we've only seen it in concept form, which was styled quite differently.
"The electrification of heavy long-distance transport is the next milestone on our road to CO2-neutrality," said Karin Rådström, CEO Mercedes-Benz Trucks. "The eActros LongHaul is a battery-electric vehicle which is planned to be economically feasible for our customers. My team and I look forward to presenting this innovative truck to our customers and the public in September."
The long-distance model will join other eActros variants, which have been in production for nearly a year but are aimed at local cargo distribution. The debut of the 310-mile model is expected to be a game-changer, making it possible to offer daily ranges on par with conventional trucks, according to Mercedes.
Of course, this claim comes with a few asterisks, the largest one of which is the thin availability of charging infrastructure in Europe at the moment, to make highway travel possible. The eActros variants that have been in production since October of last year are box trucks, and are aimed at fleet customers that rely on charging at their home bases. The eActros LongHaul contemplates highway travel across Germany and other countries that will have a suitable charging network by 2024.
"The lion's share of long-distance transport applications in transporters' operational practices do not require a range beyond the approximately 500 km the eActros LongHaul makes possible on a single charge," the truck maker points out. "In addition, legal restrictions on the driving times for truck drivers limit the need for longer ranges, depending on the case."
Reliance on a public charging network for trucks would be less of an issue if the eActros LongHaul served routes with charging stations at each endpoint, such as between a sea port and a warehouse center in an inland location. This would allow it to travel between the northern port of Hamburg to Frankfurt on a single charge.
Mercedes also points out that since EU regulations require drivers to take a 45 minute break after a maximum of 4.5 hours of driving, the truck will have time to get recharged during the break, if timed correctly, and can be driven by a team of two drivers in shifts.
Speaking of charging, Mercedes-Benz Trucks along with Volvo Trucks and Volkswagen's Traton Group composed of MAN, Scania and others have formed of joint venture for public charging aimed at trucks. Mercedes is working with Siemens Smart Infrastructure and ENGIE on a charging network that will be available to all trucks, regardless of brand.
More trucks are on the way from Mercedes in other segments, including the FUSO eCanter, eEconic, and the Freightliner Cascadia that will be offered in North America, promising a 230-mile range. So the electric truck revolution happening in Europe, while not televised here, is not going to pass North America by entirely.