ZWARTKOPS, Pretoria - Mercedes-Benz Trucks has launched its first series production all-electric commercial vehicle, the new eActros, which they say is perfectly suited for heavy-duty distribution haulage. “We have to acknowledge that transport is a part of the problem when it comes to climate change. At the same time, we can and we will be part of the solution. We start with our eActros that has covered more than half a million kilometers on public roads,” says Karin Rådström, member of the board of management at Daimler Truck AG and responsible for Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Rådström is convinced of the concept and market potential of the eActros: “The eActros and its dedicated services are a big step for Mercedes-Benz Trucks and for our customers towards carbon-neutral transport”.
After Mercedes-Benz Trucks had presented the concept vehicle for a heavy-duty distribution haulage truck for urban areas at the IAA 2016 for Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, practical testing of ten eActros prototypes in co-operation with customers in Germany and other European countries began in 2018. The objective of the "eActros Innovation Fleet" was to launch a series-ready eActros on the market in 2021.
“Development of the eActros focussed on the partnership with our customers. Everything that we learned from the Innovation Fleet is now being incorporated in series production. Compared with the prototypes, several features such as range, drive power and safety have been considerably improved in the series-production model,” says Andreas von Wallfeld, head of marketing, sales and services at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
At the technological heart of the new Mercedes-Benz eActros is the drive unit with two integrated electric motors along with a two-speed transmission. Both motors are said to provide impressive pulling power and vehicle dynamics, while the quiet and emission-free electric drive means the truck can also be used for night deliveries and entry into inner-cities with driving bans for diesel vehicles.
Depending on the version, the eActros draws its power from three or four battery packs – each with a capacity of around 105kWh. Thanks to a maximum capacity of 420kWh, a range of up to 400km is realistic according to Merc’s testing.
The eActros can be charged with up to 160kW: When connected to a regular 400A DC charging station, the three battery packs need a little longer than 1 hour to charge from 20 to 80 percent, they say.
“The eActros is perfectly equipped for its daily operations in distribution transport with regard to availability and performance”, von Wallfeld adds.
To assist haulage companies step-by-step as they switch to electromobility, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has incorporated the eActros into a comprehensive system which includes consultant and service products for customers and in turn the best possible vehicle utilisation, optimisation of total costs and the setting-up of a charging infrastructure. Furthermore the electric truck features a high degree of digitisation and connectivity.
This also applies to vehicle safety. In the latest generation of the Actros with a conventional diesel drive unit, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has already given an impressive demonstration of the standard of safety that is possible on roads today, and of what the manufacturer is doing in pursuit of its vision of accident-free driving.
With the eActros, Mercedes-Benz Trucks is not only keeping a close eye on active safety, for example in the form of systems installed as standard such as MirrorCam, Sideguard Assist S1R or the fifth generation of Active Brake Assist (ABA) with pedestrian detection, but also on challenges associated with electric vehicles and their high-voltage systems.
Later this year, the series production model will start to roll out of Mercedes-Benz Trucks' largest truck assembly plant in Wörth am Rhein in Germany. In recent months intensive preparations have been made for the new production processes at the plant, which includes the construction of a new assembly line. In the launch phase, the series-production model of the eActros will be available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Further markets (including South Africa) will follow.
“The global debut of this ground-breaking vehicle was certainly an electrifying and sensational moment for us locally. Hats off to our Mercedes-Benz Truck counterparts for this revolutionary vehicle that sets the brand apart. This is certainly a giant step towards an electrically driven future and we are proud to be a part of a brand that is continuously at the forefront of developing cutting-edge solutions for customers. As we wait in great anticipation to officially usher in this truck of the future to the South African market, we look forward to possible customer demonstrations and trial opportunities,” concludes Maretha Gerber, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks Southern Africa.