Mercedes-Benz Trucks is starting practical trials for its all-electric heavy-duty e-Actros truck. The retail and logistics service provider Hermes is the first of 20 customers in different sectors who will integrate the electric truck into their fleets.
Each customer will use a near-series 18 or 25-tonner in their normal operations for one year to test it for day-to-day suitability. The aim is to realise locally emission-free and quiet operation of heavy-duty trucks in cities. The test series is divided into two phases with 10 customers each, and covers a period of around two years.
Every type of customer operation will make specific demands on the e-Actros. Hermes will test a 25-tonner mainly on a 50km long route between Bad Hersfeld and the Hermes logistics Center in Friedewald, northern Hessia. The route passes through hilly landscape and is covered six to eight times each day. This makes at least one charging process necessary between tours. The range of the e-Actros is up to 200km.
At the handover of the first eActros of the innovation fleet to Hermes (from left): Mathias Heinze, Key Account Manager at Mercedes-Benz Trucks; Sven Klimpel, General Area Manager Kassel, Hermes Germany GmbH; Dennis Caldwell, Head of Fleet Management/Disposition in the Kassel Area, Hermes Germany GmbH, as well as Thomas Schmitt and Michael Albrecht, both also Key Account Managers at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
According to Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks: "The practical trials with the eActros are an important milestone on the way to series production. We want to use the comprehensive findings to realise electric trucks that are economically comparable to diesel trucks for inner-city distribution from 2021. Our focus is on the operating range and cost of the batteries, and also on the infrastructure necessary for operations in our customers' commercial fleets.”
"We are especially pleased to be handing the first e-Actros in our innovation fleet to Daimler's long-standing customer and test partner Hermes," added Buchner.
Oliver Lanka, Head of Central Procurement at Hermes Germany, said: "Electromobility is an essential component of our sustainability strategy. We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of making our deliveries in all urban centres in Germany emission-free by 2025. Alongside the use of battery-electric vans over the last mile, the gradual electrification of heavy-duty distribution and feeder transport is an important topic for us. We are working together closely with Mercedes-Benz Trucks in this area. Both the technological concept of the eActros and the end-to-end service approach plus the level of advice have impressed us."
Intensive customer advice
Practical operation of the e-Actros by customers is preceded by intensive advice from the experts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. Above all this defines the specific customer requirements and the corresponding variant of the e-Actros, and clarifies aspects of the necessary infrastructure. All the test customers transport goods in city traffic, and will use the eActros for assignments otherwise carried out with conventional diesel trucks – but in completely different sectors and categories. The goods concerned range from groceries to building supplies and raw materials. Depending on requirements, the customers will receive the two-axle 18-tonner or the three-axle 25-tonner. The body variants range from refrigerated and box bodies to bulk goods and tarpaulin bodies.
The experts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks are available to the customers around the clock during the trials, and they also induct the customer's drivers and mechanics into the special characteristics of the electric truck. During the test, the drivers are able to give the experts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks feedback about the vehicle at the touch of a button, in the form of voice messages directly from the cab. In addition, the experts at Mercedes-Benz Trucks continuously record all the relevant vehicle data and evaluate them.
The other customers participating in the first test phase will gradually receive an eActros in the next few weeks. They are: Dachser, Edeka, Kraftverkehr Nagel, Ludwig Meyer, pfenning logistics, TBS Rhein-Neckar and Rigterink in Germany, and Camion Transport and Migros in Switzerland
The frame of the Mercedes-Benz Actros is used as the basis for the e-Actros. Otherwise 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 in hybrid and fuel-cell buses from Mercedes-Benz, and has now been fundamentally revised for the eActros.
The drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. They have an output of 126 kW each, together with a maximum torque of 485 Nm each. The gearing ratios turn this into 11 000 Nm each, resulting in a performance that is comparable with that of a diesel truck. The maximum permissible axle load stands at the usual 11.5 tonnes. The energy comes from lithium-ion batteries with 240 kWh.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks says these have already proved their worth in service with EvoBus GmbH – so they can no longer be considered as prototypes. Depending on the available charging capacity, they can be fully charged within two to 11 hours (at 150 and 20 kW).