Mercedes-Benz Reveals Electric Heavy-Duty Truck, Ahead of Tesla

Last week Tesla Motors announced a plan that included battery-powered commercial trucks with no production timetable.

This week Mercedes-Benz unveiled its electric Urban eTruck with sales planned in about five years, Automotive News is reporting.

As the name suggests, the Urban eTruck is aimed at intercity deliveries such as grocery stores and other urban businesses.

Before the truck’s presentation in Stuttgart, Germany, Wolfgang Bernhard, head of the Daimler Trucks division, said, “Until now, there were extremely few commercial vehicles with electric powertrains. There’s now such a significant improvement on costs, performance and charging times that we’re seeing a step-by-step change.”

The prototype Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle Mercedes distribution truck with a 29-ton capacity.

The drivetrain has been replaced by an electrically driven rear axle developed for the Mercedes Citaro hybrid bus.

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A pair of electric motors provides drive, one mounted close to each of the rear wheels. Combined, they produce 335 horsepower and 737 pounds-feet of torque.

Three lithium-ion battery modules mounted in the frame power the electric motors

Combined battery capacity of 212 kilowatt-hours is good for about 120 miles of range, typical miles driven for a day’s delivery trips.

If more range is needed, additional battery modules can be added.

Batteries can be topped up in 2 to 3 hours using a Combined Charging System (CCS) high-voltage DC charging with a 100-kilowatt charging rate.

Tests of heavy-duty trucks are beginning to make appearances as a 6-ton Fuso Canter e-Cell, distributed in Europe by Mercedes-Benz Trucks, is already on the roads in Germany, and Volkswagen AG’s Scania division is testing an electric truck powered by overhead electric cables.

Another VW truck division plans to show a battery-powered truck concept in September, while startup Nikola Motor is scheduled to unveil a prototype in December.

“Until now, no one’s been making money from electric vehicles,” Bernhard said at the presentation. “But those who are too late with new technology lose market share, and that’s why these models are coming out now.”

Automotive News