A small-scale roll-out of the zero-emissions eActros truck range is kicking off in 2018, with manufacturer Mercedes-Benz looking to see how its first electric HGV will fare in real-world driving conditions.
A total of ten trucks are being used in this trial, with a number of different businesses being provided with early access to see whether or not they are viable in their current state.
The final version of the eActros is not likely to touch down until 2021, but over the next three years there will be time for Mercedes-Benz to perfect the design, optimise the performance of the electric power train and make sure that it offers enough range to be competitive with a growing group of prospective rivals from other companies.
The aim of the eActros
A spokesperson for parent company Daimler said that the aim was to approach the emergence of EVs in a practical and pragmatic way, enabling customers of Mercedes-Benz to shift from traditional trucks to zero-emissions equivalents without having to accept compromises on day-to-day performance.
As well as seeing how the eActros models can handle the rigours of regular usage, this trial will set out to establish the extent to which there is enough infrastructure in place to support electric trucks on a broader scale.
The biggest obstacle is likely to be related to the availability of charging points. As long as the trucks can travel far enough each day on a single charge to complete their duties, this will not be an issue. If the range is not adequate to achieve this, operators may have a less convenient experience.
A variety of businesses across Europe have been chosen to participate in the trial, with most handling delivery and distribution work. Although crucially the types of goods and materials that are going to be hauled by the eActros fleet differ wildly, which should help to put them through their paces and create usable data on which improvements can be made.
Maximum Range Before Recharge
These trucks will be out on public roads for the next year, with a follow-up trial already scheduled. There has already been so much interest from customers that Mercedes-Benz is confident in the commercial appeal of the range; it just needs to establish whether or not it can live up to expectations in terms of practicality.
According to official figures, the maximum range that the eActros can cover before it needs to be recharged is 125 miles. Although of course this limit will differ depending on how much weight it is carrying and how efficiently it is driven.
A pair of electric motors will deliver 485Nm of torque apiece, which should enable it to haul heavy loads effectively and deal with the stop-start driving conditions usually encountered on city streets.
As well as improving air quality by not generating harmful emissions, these trucks will be far quieter than diesel-powered alternatives. So they will not disrupt residents when operating outside peak hours, which is another benefit that attracts conscientious businesses.