Daimler Trucks announces electrification strategy, unveils fuel-cell concept truck with 1,000km range

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 16 Sep 2020

German truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks presented its electrification strategy, ranging from urban distribution to international long-haul transport, which it says is a reaffirmation of its commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Protection Convention.

The event focused on the technology for hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks for the long-haul transport segment. The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck made its world premiere as a concept vehicle thus marking the beginning of the fuel-cell drive. With the GenH2 Truck, Daimler Trucks says it is demonstrating for the first time the specific technologies the manufacturer is driving forward at full speed so that heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks can perform flexible and demanding long-distance haulage operations with ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres and more on a single tank of hydrogen.

Daimler Trucks plans to begin customer trials of the GenH2 Truck in 2023, with series production is to start in the second half of the decade. Thanks to the use of liquid instead of gaseous hydrogen with its higher energy density, the vehicle’s performance is planned to equal that of a comparable conventional diesel truck.

Daimler Trucks also unveiled a purely battery-powered long-haul truck, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul, which the company says is designed to cover regular journeys on plannable routes in an energy-efficient manner. Daimler Trucks plans to have the eActros LongHaul ready for series production in 2024. Its range on one battery charge will be approximately 500 kilometres. Additionally, with the Mercedes-Benz eActros for distribution transport, which was already presented in 2018 and has been tested intensively since then by customers in everyday transport operations, Daimler Trucks says it will start series production of a purely battery-powered heavy-duty truck next year. The range of the series-produced eActros on one battery charge will significantly exceed that of the prototype’s approximately 200 kilometeres.

Daimler Trucks is pursuing similar vehicle schedules for the North American and Japanese markets as it is for Europe. By the year 2022, Daimler Trucks’ portfolio in its main sales regions – Europe, the USA and Japan – is to include series-produced vehicles with battery-electric drive. The company also has the ambition to offer only new vehicles that are CO2-neutral in driving operation in Europe, North America and Japan by 2039.

Martin Daum, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler, and Sven Ennerst, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler Truck for Development, Procurement and the China Region, presented the technology strategy at Station-Berlin. The speakers included Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

Martin Daum: “We are consistently pursuing our vision of CO2-neutral transport with a focus on the genuinely locally CO2-neutral technologies battery power and hydrogen-based fuel cells, which have the potential to succeed in the market in the long term. This combination enables us to offer our customers the best vehicle options, depending on the application. Battery power will be rather used for lower cargo weights and for shorter distances. Fuel-cell power will tend to be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances.”

“Our customers make rational purchasing decisions and are unwilling to compromise on their trucks’ suitability for everyday use, tonnage and range. With our alternative drive concepts from Mercedes-Benz – the GenH2 Truck, the eActros LongHaul and the eActros – and our electric trucks of the Freightliner and FUSO brands, we have a clear focus on customer requirements and are creating genuine locally CO2-neutral alternatives for them. We have now set out the key technological specifications of our electric trucks so that the requirements are known to everyone involved at an early stage. It is now up to policymakers, other players and society as a whole to provide the right framework conditions. To make CO2-neutral all-electric vehicles competitive, regulatory and government action is needed, including the necessary infrastructure for charging with green electricity and for the production, storage and transport of green liquid hydrogen,” added Daum.

Federal Minister, Andreas Scheuer: “We need zero-carbon goods vehicles on our roads. These include hydrogen fuel cell trucks. There is huge potential inherent in hydrogen for the protection of our environment and a strong economy. That is why we have been funding hydrogen as a transport fuel for over ten years – one current example is the concept truck presented today. We will continue to provide strong support to the development of climate-friendly drivetrains and innovations in and for Germany. This will include, but not be limited to, significantly expanding the funding of vehicles.”

In April this year, Daimler Truck concluded a preliminary, non-binding agreement with the Volvo Group to establish a new joint venture for the development to series maturity, production and commercialisation of fuel-cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles and other applications. Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems. The JV will benefit from the expertise of Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group. To facilitate the joint venture with the Volvo Group, Daimler Truck has brought together all Group-wide fuel-cell activities in the newly founded subsidiary Daimler Truck Fuel Cell.

Modular e-powertrain for various markets and segments
Within the context of its global platform strategy, Daimler Trucks will use a globally uniform basic architecture for all-electric trucks – the e-powertrain. The technological heart of the ePowertrain is, as a first step, the integrated electric drive, the so-called eDrive. This is used in the form of an e-carrier concept, i.e., an e-axle with one or two integrated e-motors including transmission. Daimler says the eDrive is an in-house development by its experts and offers numerous advantages over concepts with one central motor. For example, the more compact design allows a larger space to install a larger battery with a higher capacity, which has a positive effect on range.

The high battery capacity also ensures high power transmission to the e-axle, thus allowing continuous power delivery. The recuperation potential also increases due to the combination of a large battery with very powerful e-motors. The eDrive will be applied in various vehicles at Daimler Trucks in the medium- and heavy-duty segment worldwide – whether with purely battery-electric or hydrogen-based fuel-cell drive. The eDrive is designed as a drive family consisting of different variants, the first of which will have its premiere in the series-produced version of the Mercedes-Benz eActros. Within a modular system, the eDrive can be tailored to suit the market, segment and vehicle type.

The global concept of the modular ePowertrain thus creates synergies with regard to technology developments for different markets and segments, as well as economies of scale through larger numbers of uniform components. This in turn results in competitive costs that can be passed on to customers. In addition, a high proportion of components taken over from conventional powertrains is planned to contribute to competitive development and production costs.

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