Mercedes-Benz To Compete With Tesla In Electric Semi Truck Segment

11 months ago by Eric Loveday 68

The Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes distribution truck. The drivetrain was replaced by an electrically driven rear axle developed for the Mercedes Citaro hybrid bus.

The Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes distribution truck. The drivetrain was replaced by an electrically driven rear axle developed for the Mercedes Citaro hybrid bus.

eTruck

eTruck

Daimler has announced that its Mercedes-Benz truck division will begin sales of an all-electric semi truck within the next five years.

This truck, called the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, will have a range of 120 miles (NEDC) per charge and will be capable of hauling up to 26 tons of cargo. Batter capacity is listed at 212 kWh.

Though only few details are out there in regards to Tesla’s recently announced semi truck, the consensus is that Tesla’s truck will directly compete with M-B’s Urban eTruck.

M-B says that its eTruck is designed for inner-city transport. Therefore, its short range won’t be an issue.

Some additional technical details (via press release):

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck: electric drive, modular battery concept and right weight balance

The latest proof of this development is provided by the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, which shows the way to emission-free mobility in short-radius distribution with heavy-duty trucks. Technically, the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty three-axle short-radius distribution truck from Mercedes-Benz. Apart from that, however, the developers at Daimler Trucks have totally revised the drive concept, the entire conventional drivetrain being replaced by an electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs. Their maximum output is 2 x 125 kW, while the peak torque is 2 x 500 Nm. In combination with the gearing, the torque at the wheel reaches 11 000 Nm.

eTruck

eTruck

The power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three modules of lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 212 kWh. This results in a range of up to 200 km – normally enough for a typical day’s delivery round. Depending on the desired range, the modular battery pack can be customised by adding or removing batteries. The Urban eTruck is connected to the charging station using the Europe-wide standardised Combined Charging System (CCS) Type 2 connector. With a charging power of 100 kW, the fully discharged batteries are charged to 100 percent in two to three hours.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Full press release below:

Shaping Future Transportation: Daimler Trucks powers ahead – world premiere of the Urban eTruck from Mercedes-Benz, fleet trial for the Fuso Canter E-Cell

Overview
Shaping Future Transportation
Shaping Future Transportation: World premiere of the Urban eTruck
Drive and battery technology
Fuso Canter E-Cell: latest fleet trial in Stuttgart of first all-electric light-duty truck
Power to the truck – the history of electrically driven commercial vehicles

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck: electric drive, modular battery concept and right weight balance
Electric drives for trucks becoming economically viable
Intelligent drive control reduces energy consumption
Fuso Canter E-Cell: all-electric drive is already a reality

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Delivering food and products to people, disposing of waste, supplying goods to industry, trade and commerce, taking away the finished products and growing sensitivity to exhaust and noise emissions – the transport of goods in towns and cities around the world is faced with ever greater challenges. While trucks remain indispensable, the demands on them are increasing. As an alternative to the consistent gradual reduction of emissions through ever tighter regulations, the ideal solution is local emission-free mobility – in future also for trucks up to a permissible gross vehicle weight of 26 tonnes. Daimler Trucks is a pioneer in this field.

Electric drives for trucks becoming economically viable

Although electric drives long appeared to be out of the question for trucks, the economic viability of battery-electric trucks is now starting to emerge. This is because of major advances in battery technology: between 1997 and 2025, the costs are likely to fall by 60 percent. At the same time, the power will increase by around 250 percent over the same period.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck: electric drive, modular battery concept and right weight balance

The latest proof of this development is provided by the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, which shows the way to emission-free mobility in short-radius distribution with heavy-duty trucks. Technically, the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck is based on a heavy-duty three-axle short-radius distribution truck from Mercedes-Benz. Apart from that, however, the developers at Daimler Trucks have totally revised the drive concept, the entire conventional drivetrain being replaced by an electrically driven rear axle with electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs. Their maximum output is 2 x 125 kW, while the peak torque is 2 x 500 Nm. In combination with the gearing, the torque at the wheel reaches 11 000 Nm.

The power is supplied by a battery pack consisting of three modules of lithium-ion batteries with a total capacity of 212 kWh. This results in a range of up to 200 km – normally enough for a typical day’s delivery round. Depending on the desired range, the modular battery pack can be customised by adding or removing batteries. The Urban eTruck is connected to the charging station using the Europe-wide standardised Combined Charging System (CCS) Type 2 connector. With a charging power of 100 kW, the fully discharged batteries are charged to 100 percent in two to three hours.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

As the EU Commission is in favour of increasing the permissible gross vehicle weight of trucks with alternative drives by up to one tonne, this will more or less cancel out the weight disadvantage of the electric drive. This will raise the permissible gross vehicle weight of the three-axle rigid truck from 25 to 26 tonnes, which will bring the original extra weight down to 700 kg compared with a directly comparable IC-engined truck.

Fuso Canter E-Cell: all-electric drive is already a reality

As far as light-duty trucks are concerned, the all-electric drive is already a reality. This is demonstrated by the Fuso Canter E-Cell. Following a successful fleet trial in Portugal, the Canter E-Cell has now satisfactorily completed around six months of the first fleet trial for trucks of this kind in Germany. It will be available in future under the name of Fuso eCanter. There will be news about it at the IAA International Motor Show for Commercial Vehicles, which begins on 21 September 2016.

Its battery packs with a total capacity of 48 kWh are mounted on the left and right sides of the frame. The electric motor has an output of 110 kW, while the peak torque is 650 Nm. The range of the Canter E-Cell is over 100 km, depending on how the vehicle is used. In Europe, the batteries are charged with the same, standardised connector used also by the Urban eTruck. The vehicle can be fast-charged to 80 percent of its total capacity in just one hour.

Alongside Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner, Fuso is the third major brand of Daimler Trucks and a leading manufacturer of “green” light-duty trucks. For example, Fuso Canter Eco Hybrids are in service all around the world. The second generation of the truck has been in production since 2012. The first generation of the all-electric Canter E-Cell was launched by Fuso in 2010, with the second generation following in 2014. In parallel with the current fleet trial in Germany, Fuso is already working on the third generation, which will make the electrically powered Canter even more efficient and suitable for everyday use.

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68 responses to "Mercedes-Benz To Compete With Tesla In Electric Semi Truck Segment"

  1. John says:

    Just like with passenger cars, we will start with low-range heavy duty trucks. As battery tech gets better, and charging infrastructure improves, the EV trucks will slowing expand their radius from home. Sooner than you think, even large trucks will be 100% EV.

    1. Mikael says:

      And just like with passenger cars it will take a non-traditional truck manufacturing outsider like BYD or Tesla to do it right.

      500 kWh would be enough to go 200 miles EPA (4 hours driving). Combined with a 1 GW charging station (it’s been done with buses) and we would be done.

      I would easily want to pay the cost difference for my freight, just like I can choose everything from ecological to fair trade etc. labeled products.

    2. Seth says:

      So just like with the cars they start with the range that the spreadsheet mafia came up with, not what the actual people want.

      And then protest that there wasn’t demand until a entirely different company makes a truck with 500kWh that sells way better. They’ll introduce a new truck 4 years later and tell you that “we’ve cracked the code”.

      Good job people, good job.

      Also, add the Scania overhead system for highway and freeway travel so you can travel for hundreds of miles and charge if you need it. And still deliver 200 miles outside of the main road without falling to a stop.

      They couldn, but they don’t. I have no idea why except for cost. Which isn’t that significant for trucks, most of them are already quite expensive as is.

    3. Mr. M says:

      Maybe, but you need 2,5 MWh of battery to match current range. One day driving (10 h) results in 800 km (500 miles) and at least 1 MWh needed… That is far away.

  2. Carcus says:

    No mention of autonomous drive … surely the eventual goal.

    1. Someone out there says:

      Autonomous is probably not that important in the short-range delivery segment as you still need someone to load and unload the truck, which usually is the driver.

      1. carcus says:

        There’ll will be ways around that. They can shift some of the responsibility to the receiver, shown in a way with this amazon drone video. The receiver could be responsible for setting the “placemat” down for each delivery, they can monitor the trucks progress on the iPad (and the computers will verify that someone is there to accept). Then when the truck pulls up and is ready to off load (using automated arm or something) the receiver can be the one who finalizes and says yes, this is the spot, he could also have access to an emergency stop button if something starts to go wrong.

        Amazon Prime Air

        1. carcus says:

          Having said that, if there are multiple deliveries, then I would think un-securing and re-securing would be a tricky thing to work out through automation,.. but I bet people are working on a solution.

          On the smaller scale, I think that is why we see companies just going with an “automated electric skateboard” approach …. because they have no clear idea of what the final vehicle will look like as all the “delivery details” will likely evolve and change rapidly.

        2. carcus says:

          Here’s an automated fork lift in action.

          SmartLoader Automatic Trailer Loading Vehicle Shown Unloading Trailers

          /Looks too heavy and bulky to serve as a “donkey” but I bet they’ll figure something out.

          1. Robert Middleswarth says:

            That kind of automation has been around for a while. It biggest issue is the fact everything has to be setup just the way it is programmed to be. Tends to require coding everything is for the stuff to be handle just a certain way but if you are a warehouse dealing you can set your systems up to be the way it needs to be to make it work. Not so true on the delivery end.

            1. Carcus says:

              Ok. Well I picked a bad (older) video for an example. The real point of interest hear is AI. Massive data, great processing power and a cloud to get it to all work together means that you don’t have to “code everything” …. the machine will (eventually ) figure it out.

  3. Alan says:

    This would prove to be quite useful in lowering emissions & improving air quality around towns and cities where stinky diesel trucks spew out a lot of Nox.

    1. Exactly! Plus, in the cities there is very little steady state driving today, as various elements contribute to lots of starts and stops, where Diesel (and Gas, or even CNG) is not its most efficient, or cleanest!

      Electric Drives, on the other hand, are far cleaner at the operational level, and any lack of efficiency they might have while starting out so many times, is at least partly offset by the regenerative breaking aspec, as they slow and stop, if designed right!

      Also, this chassis is either not finished for use as a Semi-Trailer Cab, as there is no mount; or they intended it to be a big Cube Van type Truck (Lorry?)

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Robert Weekley said:

        “…this chassis is either not finished for use as a Semi-Trailer Cab, as there is no mount; or they intended it to be a big Cube Van type Truck (Lorry?)”

        I do believe you are correct. Despite the article above using the term “semi” at least twice, a careful reading of the actual press release says nothing about a semi tractor, nor the truck pulling a trailer. Instead, the PR uses the term “distribution truck”, which is perhaps the sort of truck you’re talking about; what I’d call a “ten ton truck”; a truck with a fixed position “van” or box on the back part of the frame. The prototype truck in the photos above lacks such a van, but that’s not surprising if they’re just using that prototype to test out the EV powertrain.

        Anyway, if Mercedes’ idea is to build a van-type heavy duty truck for local deliveries, that makes much more sense than trying to market an EV semi tractor. If so, then it’s not at all a potential competitor for Tesla’s concept for an EV semi tractor.

  4. It is great that they shot all the way to 36 Tonnes, but I wonder if they would not be better served, by targeting the 10 Tonne Class, at this stage?

    As Batteries improve, moving the Pure BEV products up size would seem to make more sense, where, right now – a PHEV approach would make more sense, since (outside of the Car focused Tesla Supercharger), we have no Truck Stop Fast Charging Network!

    If we pushed for PHEV and BEV Trucks to service all In City Drops, and Pickups, with straight Gas or Diesel Trucks only for long haul, we would already affect 20-30% of trucking, while getting truck makers familiar with electric drives, as battery performance improves to a higher level. Then long haul trucks could pe pushed to the PHEV level, and all City service, only BEV Trucks! Finally, Long Haul Trucks, could be supported by both a better plug-in fast charging network, and powered roads, with rail gantry type power supply and charging while driving.

    I can see this as a 15-30 year process, taken in 5 Year bites! Even now, we could be working on making all trucks under 10 Tonnes BEV and PHEV, with a target if no more manufacturing of straight ICE Trucks in this class, by 2021!

    By 2026, all 10-20 Tonne vehicles, could be moved to the same game of BEV, and PHEV! At the same time frame, all trucks then under 10 Tonnes, move to Pure BEV manufacturing, only.

    That gives a 10 year time to get a decent Truck Centric DC QC network in place, and since we see what Tesla – Alone – has done in under 4 Years, I see no reason why this goal is too fast!

    By 2031, we could well move the BEV and PHEV needle to Trucks of 20-40 Tonne capacities, with trucks to 60 Tones by 2036, and by 2041 – extend this out to Trucks moving 80 Tonnes! By 2046, I would think we could have a fully capable 200+ kW DC QC system in place for Long Haul Trucks, and 35% of the National Freeway System with overhead power for trucks with Gantry Power Feeds!

    Then, at that point, the pure BEV long haul begins to be quite doable and practical, and is only 30 Years away! That still leaves some years to complete the Super Trucking Power Roads, but all Truck Manufacturing could already be pure BEV!

    Trains could begin to move into the PHEV world as well, as batteries get better, and some have already tried with Lead-Acid Rail Yard movers, the ‘Green Goat’, was the first, I believe, and like Steam Trains carried a Coal Tender, right behind the Engine, PHEV Trains could build Specialized Power Box Cars, to do similar things, just as the couple multiple engines for power on heavy loads and steep grades, they could couple multiple Power Box Cars to Engines to extend the Battery Only Run Times, as Well as The Fuel Efficiency in Hybrid modes for longer runs!

    Just as now, they couple air from engine to rail cars, they could couple power. On board Robotic couplers could be designed, if power cables were to heavy for crews.

    1. Robert Middleswarth says:

      It is great that they shot all the way to 36 Tonnes, but I wonder if they would not be better served, by targeting the 10 Tonne Class, at this stage? — Robert Weekley

      Personal guess the cost difference between a motor that does 36 tonnes and 10 tonnes isn’t enough to make cost sense to use the smaller load version.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Actually, the press release quoted above says 26 tonnes, not 36.

        26 metric tons (or tonnes) = 57,320 lbs.

        Weight limits vary by State, but if the guide for the State of Illinois is typical (link below), then a three-axle truck of this type can have a gross vehicle weight limit of up to 54,000 lbs.

        http://www.idot.illinois.gov/Assets/uploads/files/IDOT-Forms/OPER/OPER%20753.pdf

  5. Kdawg says:

    This article somewhat validates my “napkin math” the other day when talking about electric semi trucks.

    If they can go 120 miles with 212kWh, then they should be able to reach the 500 miles I was suggesting with 750kWh to 1MW.

    I think some people were saying they needed 4 or 5 megawatts of battery to go that distance.

    1. Someone out there says:

      The problem is the weight when it comes to large batteries. The total allowable weight for tractor+trailer+payload is 80k lbs in the USA, so any weight added to the tractor limits the payload.

      1. kdawg says:

        yes, but even 15,000 lbs of batteries still leaves A LOT of room for stuff to be hauled. I’m guessing most semi trucks don’t come near the 80K limit.

        1. TomArt says:

          As far as I know, the 80 ton limit is pushed by quarry trucks or construction vehicles (hauling stone, dirt, ore, and maybe coal).

          Another possibility might be oil tankers…refined petroleum probably isn’t that heavy, but hauling crude by truck might come close.

          I can’t imagine a municipal waste semi having 80 tons in the trailer, nor merchandise shipments (electronics, clothes, auto parts, etc.).

          1. Someone out there says:

            Not 80 tons. 80 000 lbs, just over 36 metric tons.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          kdawg said:

          “I’m guessing most semi trucks don’t come near the 80K limit.”

          Actually, if I understand what I’ve seen in the various online guides for Interstate trucking weight limits that I’ve looked at, most semis have a 40 ton limit. The 80 ton limit is only for trailers with 3 axles, and most of the semi trailers I see on the road have only 2.

          My own back of the napkin math indicated 2.4 kWh needed for a semi tractor to pull a load 1 mile at highway speed, so I came up with a figure higher than yours, kdawg. That would indicate 1200 kWh for 500 miles. Still, not too far in excess of the 1000 kWh top end of your estimate.

          But the weight for 1200 kWh would indeed bite into the total weight limit, especially if it’s only 40,000 lbs. Assuming roughly the same weight per kWh as what I estimate a 2016 Tesla Model S battery pack weighs (~11.5 lbs per kWh), that would be 13,800 lbs, which would reduce the truck’s carrying capacity by 17.25% for an 80,000 lb. weight limit, or reduce it by 34.5% for a 40,000 lb. weight limit.

          ———————————————

          My full analysis below, for those interested:

          BALLPARK FEASIBILITY CASE FOR BEV SEMI TRUCK

          FACTS & FIGURES

          A modern diesel semi pulling a load gets 6.5 MPG; therefore uses 0.1538 gallons of diesel per mile

          1 gallon of diesel contains 40.7 kWh of energy

          diesel semi typical engine weight 2880 lb

          Tesla Roadster upgrade battery pack: 70 kWh in ~10 cubic feet

          standard sized semi trailer dimensions: 110″ high x 96″ wide, or 9.167′ x 8′

          DOT weight limit for a six-axle semi tractor-trailer: 80,000 lbs

          Typical price of a relatively high-end new semi tractor: $150,000

          Typical trucker may drive as much as 600-700 miles in a day, and can legally drive up to 11 hours per day.

          * * * * *

          PREMISES & ASSUMPTIONS

          What we need is a BEV battery pack for our semi tractor which will allow it to pull a load for ~750 miles. This should allow the trucker to complete a daily run on one charge. We assume at the end of the run either the battery pack is swapped out for one that’s charged up, or the pack is charged during the hours the trucker is sleeping. Either way, we avoid the need for fast charging and very high current.

          Our hypothetical BEV semi will have an energy efficiency 2.6 times that of a diesel semi. (An EV car is about 3.5 x as energy efficient as an average gasmobile, but diesel engines are about 30-35% more efficient than gas engines.)

          Therefore, our BEV semi pulling a load needs (0.1538 x 40.7 / 2.6 =) 2.4 kWh of energy to run 1 mile.

          Estimated weight of a 2016 Tesla battery pack using 18650 cells: 11.5 lbs / kWh

          Estimated price for a Tesla battery pack (not just the cells): $180 / kWh

          * * * * *

          We need to look at three limiting factors for the BEV semi tractor’s large battery pack: Space, weight, and cost.

          SPACE ANALYSIS

          The space behind a long-haul trucker’s cab, the space now devoted to storage and sleeping space, is about 4.1 feet long, at least on the diagram I looked at; I’m assuming the height and width are the same as a typical semi trailer. (At least, the dimensions should be close enough for this ballpark estimate.)

          Let’s use that space for the battery pack. I don’t see losing this space as a problem. Since we no longer need a long nose for the diesel engine, which isn’t there, we can shove the cabin forward, and leave room for the battery pack behind. The tractor now looks more like a “cab-over” tractor with an extended space behind the cabin, rather than a long-nose tractor.

          So I estimate that space at 4.145 x 9.167′ x 8′ = 303.977 cu.ft.

          An upgraded Tesla Roadster’s battery pack has 70 kWh and measures ~10 cubic feet.

          Assuming a similar configuration, that gives us (303.977 / 10 * 70 =) 2127.8 kWh.

          At 2.4 kWh per mile, that’s 886.6 miles.

          This is comfortably beyond our needs of ~750 miles.

          Space isn’t an issue.

          * * * * *

          WEIGHT ANALYSIS

          Weight *is* an issue, altho perhaps not a deal-killer.

          At 2.4 kWh per mile, enabling a range of 750 miles requires our BEV semi tractor to carry a (750 x 2.4 =) 1800 kWh battery pack. At an estimated 11.5 pounds per kWh, that’s 20,700 lbs. We save just a bit by losing the diesel drivetrain; maybe 3000 lbs or so, which brings us down to an estimated 17,700 lbs. That’s 22.1% of our maximum weight limit of 80,000 lbs. And note that various State laws may reduce the maximum weight even further, depending on what States our long-range truck travels through.

          Now, that’s not to say this makes the idea impractical. It may well be worth sacrificing some shipping capacity as a tradeoff for lower cost per mile of moving the freight. But it does limit the market for our BEV semi a bit, or perhaps more than a bit, depending on what the customer’s needs are.

          * * * * *

          COST ANALYSIS

          Cost for the battery pack is the real issue here. And that cost is almost certainly why, for example, UPS, FedEx, Wal*Mart, and other companies with large trucking fleets have not already started switching to heavy BEV trucks.

          That 1800 kWh battery pack, at $180 / kWh at the pack level, will cost an estimated $324,000. And that’s Tesla’s estimated cost, not price, so you can likely add another 15-25% to that. Note a reasonably high-end diesel semi tractor costs $150,000, so adding that battery pack is more than tripling the cost. With a 20% markup, it’s $388,000, which is 259% of the diesel semi tractor’s $150,000 price. Sure, Tesla will save some money by using an EV powertrain instead of the much more complex, and more expensive, diesel powertrain. But as a percentage of the price of that battery pack, I doubt losing the diesel engine, exhaust, etc. etc. will make much of an impact on price.

          There is also the matter of battery life. A Tesla battery pack may be expected to last the life of the car, but the typical car is only driven about 5-10% of the hours in a day. Contrariwise, a long range truck is expected to be on the road as much as possible. A truck just sitting around still has to be insured, and the owner still has to pay all those fees for a heavy commercial vehicle. A truck just sitting around is losing money for its owner.

          So we need to ask: Just how many times will that very expensive battery pack have to be replaced, over the lifetime of the truck? A semi truck is expected to last an average of 20 years, significantly longer than the average life of a passenger car. Will the truck save enough on fuel costs to justify the amortized cost of buying replacement packs?

          That’s a subject beyond the scope of this analysis.

          1. Kdawg says:

            Nice analysis. Don’t forget there’s about 1500lbs of fuel that a BEV truck would not have to carry. But that’s somewhat nitty gritty.

            If a trucker uses 125gal/day, that’s about $300/day. Or about $75k/year. If Tesla (or Merecedes) has some kind of free-Supercharging setup, that wouldn’t take long to get your the EV premium back. Even if they had to pay for their own electricity, the payback is still well within the life of the vehicle.

            Speaking of which, I think due to the large size of the battery pack, it won’t see a many cycles/day, so it should last a long time. It also looks like the designs so far are set up with liquid thermal management, which would really help.

            1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

              Thanks for your reply, Kdawg.

              I think I once heard/saw a Tesla spokesman say that for average battery life, they assume the battery pack will be cycled once per week. Contrariwise, I assume the EV semi’s battery will be cycled once per day the truck is driven, which should be 5-6 days a week. So the packs should be cycled 5-6 times as often, which means they would be expected to wear out 5-6 times as fast as a Tesla pack.

              Now, that’s not to say you’re wrong about cost favoring the EV semi, but I suspect the amortized battery cost is significantly higher than you were estimating.

              I think there’s little if any question that in the past, the battery cost has been too high to make EV heavy trucks cost-competitive, except in niche applications such as moving semi trailers around in a freight yard.

              So I submit that the real question here is: Have battery prices recently dropped to the point that an EV truck can now be economically competitive?

    2. no comment says:

      that’s a nice strawman, but i was referring to long haul trucking were there would have to be a nearly guaranteed 1,000 miles of range. under the kind of pessimistic scenario that i considered, i doubt that the daimler truck would get 120 miles. with local trucking, it’s less of a big deal because with local deliveries, such as delivery of heavy construction equipment, the driver is not necessarily on the go all day and the driver does not have to worry about the 11 hour driving limit.

      the daimler truck (and apparently the proposed tesla truck) do not appear to compete with the nikola semi, which is a long haul truck.

      1. kdawg says:

        I never said 1000 miles. I said 500 miles. That’s specifically what my “napkin” math was based on.

    3. Doggydogworld says:

      That 120 miles is NEDC, which translates to 70-80 freeway miles. I use 3 kWh/mile on the highway. I haven’t seen any data to contradict that for reasonably aero-optimized tractor-trailers. Bullet-train aerodynamics can do better, but practicality suffers.

      1. Kdawg says:

        You use 3kWh/mile in a semi-truck you currently drive?

        That would be 1500 kWH for 500 miles. So maybe 17 to 20 Tesla packs.

        1. no comment says:

          the problem is, for a long haul truck (which the daimler truck is not), you insisting on a model that probably isn’t practical for an actual truck driver. 500 miles of range would mean that the driver would have to stop to recharge every day, and probably during the 11 hours of available driving time.

          3 hours for a truck driver goes a lot more quickly than you think it does. for example, a truck driver is going to want to have those 3 hours available so that he can make deliveries without having those deliveries eat into his available driving time. the kind of “chill out and relax” stuff that you envision is more likely to occur during his off-duty time.

          a typical diesel semi has 1,500-2,000 miles of range, which allows a driver about 2 days of driving without having to stop to refill. why would truck driver opt for a bev truck that would require him to stop in the middle of the day every day to recharge? truck driving is not a leisure time activity, so a driver can’t afford to make decisions based on considerations like ev enthusiasm as you can.

          1. Priusmaniac says:

            If range is set at 300 miles a 450 KWh battery on an improved electric truck would be feasible. That 300 miles range could be combined with a fast passive dock based battery exchange system where the exchange is done using the truck’s own hydraulics. The truck comes perpendicular with the dock in front of the battery to be loaded. A truck piston pulls the battery in the truck where the standard front bulge engine compartment use to be. After 300 miles the truck unload the empty battery and move a bit to load another battery wanting charged on the same dock. Simple convenient cheap feasible today. The truck purchase is cheaper than a diesel. The energy service access which comprise getting use of a battery and the electricity charged in it is cheaper than the monthly diesel bill.

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “no comment” commented:

            “the problem is, for a long haul truck (which the daimler truck is not), you insisting on a model that probably isn’t practical for an actual truck driver. 500 miles of range would mean that the driver would have to stop to recharge every day, and probably during the 11 hours of available driving time.”

            Your scenario isn’t reasonable, either. The online reports I saw from actual over-the-road truck drivers suggest that most trips won’t be more than 700 miles, with 800 miles as an absolute maximum. I used a figure of 750 miles for my own analysis.

            A reasonable scenario for long distance EV trucking would have the battery recharged overnight, every night. It’s not reasonable to suggest a two-day driving range, with batteries so expensive and so heavy. That requirement would be unreasonably expensive and would cut too much into the cargo weight limit.

            A 400-500 mile limit could work if we assume this is for a fixed route, with battery swap stations spaced out along the route so the driver could stop and swap batteries while he eats lunch.

            That would, of course, limit the semi tractor to a niche market vehicle, rather than being a general purpose vehicle suitable for competing with today’s diesel semi tractors. But then, the 120 mile range (and that at lower than highway speed) suggested here by Mercedes would be even more limited.

            1. no comment says:

              truck drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving in a day. the pretty much limits you to about 800 miles in a day. in between the reality that most people don’t like to drive to fumes and fuel economy can vary you probably want at least 1,000 miles of range. most trucks have 1,500 to 2,000 miles of range.

              you should have read some of my replies to kdawg. you can’t assume that truck driving is a leisure time activity, so a typical driver is not likely to have much interest in the “90% of driving needs” crap that you see from ev enthusiasts.

              getting back to the topic of *this* article, use of electric power for local trucking, both light and heavy duty, seems quite sensible. battery prices will probably need to come down a bit, but in commercial use, you can somewhat predictably evaluate the economics of battery powered vehicles versus gasoline/diesel powered vehicles.

              1. Kdawg says:

                You said “why would truck driver opt for a bev truck that would require him to stop in the middle of the day every day to recharge?”

                If it’s a fleet vehicle with a set route, why can’t there be charging at the loading/unloading stations. Walmart, UPS, USPS, many more.

                Also, the driver is not going to drive for 11 hours without stopping. So lets say he stops for only 30 minutes for lunch at one of the fleet’s “Oasis stations”, let’s say. At a 600 kW charger that would give him another 100 to 150 miles.

                1. Kdawg says:

                  Also, if it’s a fleet truck, it may not be up to the driver what he’s driving. If the owner of the fleet is saving tons in fuel costs & maintenance costs, he could want BEV trucks for his whole fleet.

  6. MDEV says:

    All this revolution is thanks to Tesla, now the big players seems to start to take seriously the electrification of transportation. All that Elon envisioned started to happen.

    1. mark says:

      Tesla didn’t drive any of this.

      The development time for a truck like this would have required that this truck be started before/around the release date of the model S. The only thing Tesla had done at that point was the Roadster, which was good, but a niche product.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Of course Tesla is driving this.

        If Tesla wasn’t pushing the EV revolution forward as fast as possible, if Tesla didn’t keep expanding the range of vehicles which the company demonstrates can be made and sold profitably, then Mercedes wouldn’t be talking about putting an EV semi tractor into production. They would at most be talking about building a prototype.

        Personally, I think it will still be too soon to sell one of these things profitably in 5 years. Smith Electric, for example, has been forced to cease production of its EV heavy trucks because of lack of sales. If UPS and FedEx haven’t yet started wholesale conversion of their local delivery vans to EVs, how many more years are are away we from a commercially competitive long-range EV semi tractor?

        But committing some resources to R&D for development of such a truck will put Mercedes ahead when the cost and weight of batteries eventually comes down far enough that this sort of truck will be economically competitive with diesel semi trucks.

        1. super390 says:

          In order for conventional vehicle companies to justify developing their own technology for an EV sedan to compete with Tesla, they need to find other products for that technology.
          Thus we see Mercedes, Nissan and Tesla get into the home energy storage business, for example.

  7. drpawansharma says:

    The design is not very aerodynamic.

    1. You’re right, it isn’t; though most of the drag comes from the cargo box. Make that aerodynamic, and this chassis would be pretty good.

    2. Daniel says:

      At the speeds an inner city delivery truck would likely be operated at, aerodynamics should be of little if any concern.

      1. mark says:

        Finally, someone understands that there’s more to building a vehicle than aerodynamics and putting batteries on it.

  8. Combine batteries with overhead power lines for the highway portions of a drive, and we can have all electric trucks sooner.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I don’t know what country you live in, but I just don’t see most if any States in the USA installing overhead power lines above all highways to empower long-distance trucking.

      There might be a case to be made for countries where population density is high, and perhaps in certain areas of the U.S. east coast. But certainly not nationwide.

      A much better use for that kind of investment would be to revamp and upgrade the U.S. railroads for more efficient and faster movement of freight.

  9. jmac says:

    Many companies have been involved in commercial electric trucks long before Elon Musk did. Among them are Ian Wright, one of the co-founders of Tesla, who thinks plug-in hybrids are the way to go. Since the commercial trucking fleets use more oil than the passenger fleet, Wright has concentrated his efforts on electrifying commercial vehicles rather than cars.

    Smith Electric and Balquon were selling electric trucks years ago. A number of other companies have tried and failed in the heavy truck industry, such as Modec and Navistar.

    Musk did not invent the concept of electric Semi tractors and electric yard mules. Musk doesn’t have any special sauce here excerpt that batteries have improved significantly in the last 8-10 years and are also cheaper making commercialization of the trucking industry a more attractive possibility.

    http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/bmw-puts-a-40-ton-electric-truck-on-the-road/

    http://www.balqon.com/electric-vehicles/

    1. TomArt says:

      Yeah, I can’t figure out why we don’t see more of them – I see hybrid buses, but trucks of various ilks still appear to be almost exclusively ICE.

      I did end up behind a Smith Electric delivery truck about 3 or 4 years ago, here in the DC area, but that’s the only one I’ve ever noticed, anywhere.

  10. MTN Ranger says:

    BEV short haul and local delivery trucks for companies like Fed Ex, UPS, and USPS would do wonders compared to their current smelly diesel/gas versions.

    1. Scott says:

      We have an electric FedEx truck on our route (Ft Collins, CO) It rolled up next to me at the stoplight near work like a giant Prius and I was awe-struck. A huge vehicle without any real clatter is about the coolest thing I’ve ever encountered on the road.

    2. Some Guy says:

      In Germany, the German Postal Service (Deutsche Post) is switching to electric delivery vehicles (e-bikes and small delivery trucks), for cost and maintenance reasons. Notably, although they asked around at the German vehicle manufacturers if they had something to offer or would built according to specs required (like accessible from all sides), NONE had something available or wanted to do it (we are talking approx. 30000 EVs over the next years at a rate of 5000 per year).
      The CEO of Deutsche Post got fed-up by these excuses, so the Postal Service is now actually building its very own EV delivery trucks with a recently acquired subdivison called Streetscooter.
      Link unfortunately German only
      https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetscooter
      They have built 600 already, 2000 more will follow by the end of the year.
      And the best thing is: Aside from their own demand, they plan on selling these vehicles to small businesses and possibly private people (but not their competitors in parcel delivery). They are also supposedly considerably cheap, but the range is linited (~100 km, designed for Inner city parcel delivery). I Think I read something about less than 15.000 €

      1. Heisenberghtbacktotherootsandnuts says:

        Jepp. Streetscooter is completely overlooked… Heck they are selling nearly as much electric vehicles than VW in Germany. I wonder why insideevs does not report on them. (does anyone here have a personal issue with them? ) well I have… But that’s a different story from another life… I still want them to succeed and bite the shiny metal a of vw Daimler and the likes…

    3. no comment says:

      bev’s make a whole lot of sense for short term commercial vehicles. in addition, that is the kind of application where you can show reasonable break even scenarios which would make the up front additional cost for bev’s look more attractive.

  11. Bill Howland says:

    Looks like a good start. Europeans can charge at 11 or 22 kw, while us based trucks can charge at 16kw. Enough for an overnight charge up.

  12. jh says:

    In the meantime ebusco and byd pack 400kwh, and up to 600 in some cases in the godamn buses… Quite frankly. not impressed.

  13. CDAVIS says:

    “Daimler has announced that its Mercedes-Benz truck division will begin sales of an all-electric semi truck within the next five years.”
    ——

    So Daimler has basically announced that they plan to allow Tesla to begin selling an EV-Semi before Daimler.

    But Daimler left out of their announcement that the Tesla Semi will be supported by a Tesla Semi Supercharger Network for long-haul trips while Daimler eTruck by necessity can’t leave town…thus the “Urban” eTruck.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      CDAVIS said:

      “So Daimler has basically announced that they plan to allow Tesla to begin selling an EV-Semi before Daimler.”

      Personally, I’ll be quite surprised if either company produces more than a prototype EV semi in the next 5 years. I don’t see there being much of a market for a short-range semi tractors. There is already a tiny niche market for such semis being used in freight yards, but semis aren’t used much for local deliveries, which is what Mercedes is talking about.

      Now, if either Tesla or Mercedes was talking about an EV delivery van, that would be considerably more likely to be able to be sold at a profit.

      But that Secret Tesla Master Plan (Part Two) you’re referring to is a 10-year plan. There’s no indication that Tesla is going to put an EV semi tractor into production within the next 5 years, despite InsideEVs’ apparent misinterpretation of a comment from Tesla saying a Tesla exec was “driving” the Tesla EV semi… probably referring to leading (or “driving”) Tesla’s R&D program, not driving an actual prototype vehicle.

  14. Heisenberghtbacktotherootsandnuts says:

    What a loser design… “high voltage brake resistors” combined with a “high temperature cooling system” what a waste of space… Ever thought of recovering the energy? Wake up daimler.

    Well I guess your lousy 200kwh battery can’t handle the current… Hey why spend a single thought on a (good) solution for that problem, let’s put HUGE resistors in and produce another problem. HEAT… We’ll happily add one more cooling system. One ain’t enough…

    Any engineer from daimler here?

    Be ashamed that you follow orders!!!

    Your goal should be to create something you can be proud of, not the cheapest, low tech, anti innovation, least efficent, least effort “solution”.

    German engineering? Bullshit I say! This is nothing but a waste of time!

    Shame on all engineers who don’t stand up and shout into the faces of the management : “we won’t do that! We don’t want the world to think that we are stupid!”

    Luckily most people just don’t care.

    High voltage brake resistors!

    High voltage brake RESISTORS!

    Viva la resistance!

    High voltage brake…

    Dammit… Why do I care?

    Dammit Damit Daimler!

    Oh how beautiful and clean the world could already be. Oh what we lost because of greedy management decisions. Oh what we lost because people just don’t care. No more pollution. No more war. So many lives wasted for the well-being of the few. We are nothing but slaves.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      They are probably using 2-quadrant controllers versus the more expensive 4-quadrant controllers everyone else is using, similar to the earlier Otis Elevator ‘dynamic braking’ resistor / controller.

      If this is the only negative the truck has, it will still be a winner.

    2. Carcus says:

      Normal breaking is regenerative, sounds like the resistors won’t get used very often:

      “Though the motors turn into generators to convert the kinetic energy into electric one when the driver hits the brake, the truck is also equipped with braking resistors, much like an old electric locomotive. What at first sight looks a bit ridiculous however makes sense. “In the rare case that the truck has to brake when the battery is full, recuperation is not possible”, Zeilinger explained. In such cases, the electric energy generated is diverted to the resistors.”

      http://www.automotive-eetimes.com/news/daimler-rolls-near-series-all-electric-truck/page/0/2

      1. Carcus says:

        …of course I meant “braking”.

        Speaking of brakes, it’s time for a break,…

        Perhaps a cup of de-caf would be best,… anyone??

  15. Apkungen says:

    This won’t compete with teslas truck. This is an inner city truck that will go 70miles/110km in real life range taking 2h to charge… Teslas truck will probably have a 1MWh battery charging with rates up to 1MW, giving the truck 300miles pf real world range charging it up in an hour!

  16. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck… shows the way to emission-free mobility in short-radius distribution with heavy-duty trucks.”

    Well, it’s good that they’re not trying to hype the range. Calling it an “Urban eTruck” certainly points to limited range, and the designation of “short-radius distribution” makes it clear this isn’t intended for long-distance over-the-road trucking.

    But it seems to me this will be a rather limited niche product. Local deliveries by truck are usually made with smaller heavy trucks, not tractor-trailer rigs. That’s not to say there isn’t any market at all for this type of EV truck, but I suspect it’s a small one.

    Now, the designation of a 120 mile range with 212 kWh… that suggests limited operating speed. Again, that may be realistic for “short-range distribution” routes. Based on the back-of-the-envelope calculations I did recently, a 120 mile range at highway speed while pulling a load would need ~288 kWh; 35.85% more battery capacity than what Mercedes is talking about.

    1. super390 says:

      Given the particulates pollution crisis facing European cities due to dependence on diesels, a vehicle like this should be treated as an emergency priority.

  17. SJC says:

    Install a reformer with PEM then run biomethanol as a range extender.

  18. Foo says:

    Did they REALLY need to disguise the styling of a truck?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I, too, find that to be pretty ridiculous! It’s obviously a standard cab-over design that’s been converted to EV drive; what’s the point of trying to camouflage the cab style? I think that would just attract attention… which perhaps was Mercedes’ intent. Tesla isn’t the only auto maker who can manipulate the press for free publicity!

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Here is what appears to me to be a very similar truck cab design from Mercedes, other than the EV prototype lacking any front radiator vents:

  19. James Burns says:

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