Daimler Trucks Unveils Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Electric heavy truck has 200-km range and admissible total weight of 26 tonnes.

The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck. (Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

The Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck. (Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

Daimler Trucks has unveiled the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, a fully electric heavy-duty truck with a range of 200 kilometers (124 miles, and an admissible total weight of 26 tonnes (28.7 tons).

The eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three axle short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck. However, the company has replaced the conventional drivetrain by a new electrically driven rear axle with motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs.

This design was derived from the electric rear axle developed for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid bus—another technology that is likely to spread if cities ban internal combustion engines.

Power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three lithium-ion battery modules housed in a crash-proof location inside the frame. 

(Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

(Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

Interestingly, the EU Commission has increased the permissible gross vehicle weight of trucks with alternative energy drives by up to one tonne in order to compensate for the weight of the electric drive.

Daimler Trucks has been demonstrating the day-to-day suitability of electric trucks in customer trials with the Fuso Canter E-Cell for the past two years. Until recently, the use of electric drive systems in trucks has been impractical due to the high cost of batteries and their relatively low range.

However, the company expects battery costs to lower by a factor of 2.5 between 1997 and 2025, from €500 (USD$549)/kWh to €200 ($220)/kWh. The company also expects performance to improve by the same factor over the same period, from 80 Wh/kg to 200 Wh/kg.

(Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

(Image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.)

“Electric drive systems previously only saw extremely limited use in trucks,” said Wolfgang Bernhard of the Daimler Trucks & Buses Board of Management. “Nowadays costs, performance and charging times develop further so rapidly that now there is a trend reversal in the distribution sector: the time is ripe for the electric truck.”

“We intend to establish electric driving as systematically as autonomous and connected driving,” Bernhard added.

Many European cities, including London and Paris, are already considering a ban on internal combustion engines in city centers. These would make electric trucks vital to distributing goods to these urban areas.

The company expects the market launch of this technology to come at the beginning of the next decade.

For more on the future of heavy-duty trucks, meet Nikola, the Tesla of Semi-Trucks.