VW Truck Unit MAN Gets Ready for Electric Semis

Photo credit: MAN Trucks
Photo credit: MAN Trucks
  • European truck maker MAN has completed 20 prototypes of a semi-truck model that it intends to put into production starting in late 2023.

  • The truck maker promises ranges of up to 497 miles (800 kilometers) in its planned semi-truck, which would give it one of the longest ranges in the industry.

  • MAN, along with Scania and others, is part of the Traton Group, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.

European truck maker MAN, part of Volkswagen's Traton Group, is among the latest heavy truck manufacturers outlining an electric future, with the company planning for the start of electric truck production in 2024. The truck maker has already produced some 20 prototypes of the upcoming eTruck, showing one off this May on the site of the former Berlin Tempelhof Airport, with the German Federal Minister for Digital and Transport Dr. Volker Wissing in attendance.

The truck maker is slated to produce its electric semi on the same assembly line as its internal combustion trucks, with plans to start small-series production at its Munich facility in late 2023.

Just 12 months ago MAN had opened the eMobility Center at its Munich plant.

"We're using the MAN eMobility Center to develop the skills needed to take our e-trucks into series production," Michael Kobriger, board member for production and logistics at MAN Truck & Bus said at the time. "It's where employees at the Munich factory will be qualified in future technologies under real production conditions."

Now, after building some 20 prototypes, MAN is advancing to the next stage, getting ready for the technically complex mixed production. The company has developed modular components specifically for wiring and the chassis that will allow electric and internal combustion trucks to be built together on a shared assembly line. The truck maker has also spent the last year building up its expertise in assembling battery packs, which will give the trucks a range between 600 and 800 kilometers (372 to 497 miles).

Photo credit: MAN Trucks
Photo credit: MAN Trucks

The truck maker is now at the pre-series planning and testing stage.

"Our heavy-duty eTruck is scheduled to roll off the production line in Munich in early 2024," said Alexander Vlaskamp, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus. "To this end, we are now training employees in high-voltage technology and making our production at our main plant in Munich more flexible."

MAN already has electric buses in production, as well as a smaller electric van based on the VW Crafter and the 26-ton MAN eTGM 6x2 box truck, the latter offering a range of 124 miles and a 354-hp motor. These are relatively small-scale efforts, with the upcoming eTruck lineup slated to be in a different category when it comes to range of production volume. Even so, the company notes that the 2024 trucks will first be sent to "selected pilot customers" first, suggesting a gradual rollout.

As its competitors, some of which already have electric semi trucks in production, MAN faces a number of challenges in Europe including a rising cost of raw materials, as well as the omnipresent issue of charging infrastructure for trucks serving somewhat irregular routes. This is a challenge not faced by electric buses, which are confined to one geographic area and have seen some of the more enthusiastic fleet purchase programs from cities.

Quite a bit of work remains to be done before electric trucks begin to visibly displace diesel trucks on German autobahns, though this should happen much sooner with smaller delivery vans, both in Europe and in the US.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned