People have long been speculating about what the future of transportation and trucking would look like. We recently highlighted five technologies that were changing the distribution industry such as cloud technology and AI. Now it seems that another technological advancement is very close to rocking the trucking industry.
The first fully electric trucks are now being tested in North America.
Daimler Trucks North America has built an all-electric eCascadia and eM2 medium-duty truck. They recently delivered the first of these units to Penske just before Christmas with more to be deployed in the coming months.
Penske Truck Leasing manages around 270,000 vehicles in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The Daimler-Penske partnership is the first step towards electrifying the distribution industry across the world.
The first of these electric trucks were available for test-driving at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Reports say the trucks were extremely quiet, almost completely silent when on and idled, with impressive torque.
For now, Daimler is focused on providing trucks solely for Penske. In 2019, Penske will receive a total of 20 all-electric Freightliner trucks, 10 medium-heavy eM2, and 10 eCascadia models.
The rest of the transportation world will have to wait until 2021 to get their hands on these new electric trucks, as Daimler doesn’t plan on commercializing the trucks until then. Dr. Andreas Juretzka, head of Daimler’s electric mobility group, said the company is pursuing a “co-creation” strategy by working with consumers to develop the electric models.
Information on these electric trucks is still limited. So far we know that the Freightliner eCascadia will have a range of up to 400 km and an output of about 537 kW. The 550 kWh battery used in the truck should only need 1.5 hours to recharge to around 80%. This vehicle is designed to carry a weight of over 15 tons.
The smaller Freightliner eM2 will only carry a total weight of around 9-12 tons. This vehicle model can travel up to 370 km with an output of 353 kW. The great news is that the eM2 shouldn’t take longer than an hour to charge to 80%.
Daimler notes that the driving range is limited currently, but will improve with time. There are also other factors that influence how long the electric vehicle’s batteries will last. Using the heater, for example, can reduce the range. This means the US will likely adopt electric long-haul trucks faster than Canada, where the cold climate makes heaters necessary.
There are other aspects to electric trucks that need to be worked out still. For example, the batteries work best at room temperature, meaning hot and cold environments such as Canada and Mexico will have to deal with cooling and heating them. Issues around charging, disposal of batteries, selling price, resale value, and maintenance are also waiting to be answered.
While there are still logistics that need to be worked out, the idea of the trucking industry moving to be fully electric is an exciting one. The current testing going on in North America with Penske should solve many of the issues and answer any questions before the electric trucks go commercial. It won’t be long before the whole transportation and distribution industry will be electric!
Here at TRAFFIX, we’re excited to know that soon we can adopt more eco-friendly vehicles that will better serve our clients and the environment. Want to learn more about Traffix or join our amazing team? Contact us today!