Daimler Electric Big Rigs Hit the Road
Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) announced this week that the first two Class 8 battery electric Freightliner eCascadias are headed for Southern California customers. The trucks were built in Portland as part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet. They were built to test the integration of battery electric trucks in to large-scale fleet operations.
“This milestone in electric is important as both today and tomorrow’s technology is progressing. Our purpose is resolute – we build for our customers,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA.
The eCascadia is built on the foundation of the Freightliner Cascadia, the best-selling Class 8 heavy-duty truck on the market. These initial customer shipments are the first of an eventual 30-vehicle Freightliner Innovation Fleet. Real-world use of the Innovation Fleet and continuing feedback from the members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council will inform the final production versions of both the eCascadia and the medium-duty Freightliner eM2 in a process of co-creation.
Daimler beats rival Volvo Group in deploying Class 8 demonstration trucks. Volvo plans to begin a similar program in Southern California later this year. Start-ups like TransPower, Thor and Tesla have had heavy-duty demonstration trucks out in public, but don’t hold the promise of volume production like Daimler or Volvo.
Trucks Designed with Customer Input
Co-creation is the central tenet of DTNA’s approach to electrifying the future of commercial vehicles and is hoped to be a key enabler to the widespread adoption of battery electric trucks. The Electric Vehicle Council brings together 38 Freightliner customers to identify and address potential hurdles to large-scale deployment of commercial battery electric vehicles. Issues at the forefront of the discussion include charging infrastructure, partnerships with other parties in the e-mobility value chain, vehicle specifications and vehicle use case. All those are expected to be worked out during these early deployments.
Penske Truck Leasing of Reading, Pennsylvania and NFI of Camden, New Jersey, both members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council, will be the first companies to employ the eCascadias in their commercial operations. The eCascadias are destined for the Southern California operations of both companies and will arrive later this month. Additional deliveries of the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet will continue throughout 2019.
California Kicks in Funding
The Freightliner Innovation Fleet is supported by a partnership between DTNA and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD), which focuses on improving air quality in the South Coast Basin and partially funded the Innovation Fleet with a nearly $16 million grant. The first of the medium-duty electric Freightliner eM2s began service earlier this year with Penske Truck Leasing and are operated within the South Coast AQMD.
“This is an exciting time for the future of zero-emissions trucks, said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD’s Executive Officer. “As we work towards meeting air quality standards, it is imperative that truck manufacturers accelerate the commercialization of these technologies that will help clean our air and protect public health.”
The Freightliner eCascadia is designed for local and regional distribution and drayage. It has a 250-mile range, 750 peak horsepower and boasts a 550-kilowatt-hour battery. Both the eCascadia and the medium-duty eM2 are currently planned to enter series production in late 2021. The Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, joining the company’s Thomas Built Buses all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, the FUSO eCanter, and the Mercedes-Benz eActros and eCitaro.