In 2016 Mercedes-Benz Trucks became the first manufacturer in the world with a heavy-duty electric truck. The technology pioneer is now taking the logical next step: putting its electric truck, the eActros, out on the road with customers.
Ten vehicles in two variants, with a gross vehicle weight of 18 or 25 tonnes, will be handed over in the next few weeks to customers, who will be testing their everyday feasibility and economic efficiency under real-life conditions. The long-term aim: locally emission-free and quiet driving in urban environments with series-production trucks.
These customers all distribute goods via the road network – but in very different sectors and categories. The palette ranges from groceries to building supplies and raw materials. The vehicles are being used by customers for tasks that would otherwise be completed by vehicles with conventional diesel engines.
The range of requirements means that the vehicles are fitted with a variety of bodies. According to need, refrigerated box bodies, tankers or tarpaulin sides are used. The drivers of the eActros are trained specially to work with the vehicle. The pilot customers will be testing the vehicles in real-life operations for twelve months, after which the trucks will be going out to a second round of customers for a further twelve months.
The basis for the eActros is provided by the frame of the Actros. Otherwise, however, the vehicle architecture has been configured specifically for an electric drive system, with a high proportion of specific components.
The drive axle, for example, is based on the ZF AVE 130 that has already proved its worth as a low-floor portal axle in hybrid and fuel-cell buses from Mercedes-Benz and is now being fundamentally revised for the eActros.
The axle housing has been completely redesigned and is mounted in a significantly higher position, thereby increasing the ground clearance to more than 200 mm.
The drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. These three-phase asynchronous motors are liquid-cooled and operate with a nominal voltage of 400 volts.hey generate an output of 125 kW each, with maximum torque of 485 Nm each. The gearing ratios convert this into 11 000 Nm each, resulting in driving performance on a par with that of a diesel truck.
The maximum permissible axle load stands at the usual 11.5 tonnes. The energy for a range of up to 200 km is provided by two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 240 kWh.
These have already proved their worth in service with EvoBus GmbH – so can no longer be considered as prototypes.
The batteries are accommodated in eleven packs, all in all: three of these are located in the frame area, the other eight are to be found underneath. For safety reasons, the battery packs are protected by steel housings.
The customer innovation fleet will be on the road until at least mid 2020. Its aim is to establish the energy requirements for a series of specific application scenarios as well as the economic efficiency of the electric trucks, and to compare the environmental performance of the electric trucks with that of diesel trucks in a full Life Cycle Assessment.
The findings of this research work will find their way back into the vehicles in the form of on-going optimisation measures. The results will be published, giving potential users the opportunity to optimise their route planning or to develop new business models for their logistics processes.