Daimler & Hermes Partner on Electric Truck Trials

Mercedes-Benz Trucks, the truck division of German auto giant Daimler, is partnering with delivery company Hermes to test the all-electric eActros vehicle on the roads of central Germany.

The two companies plan to test a total of ten eActros trucks as part of day-to-day trials for the next two years, with Hermes representing the first of 20 test customers in various sectors.

Hermes will test a 25-ton truck mainly on a 30-mile long route between Bad Hersfeld and the company’s logistics center in Friedewald, a route that passes through hilly landscape and is covered six to eight times each day.

The range of the eActros is up to nearly 125 miles on a single charge, meaning at least one charging process will be necessary between tours.

The drive system is comprised of two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs, while the energy comes from lithium-ion batteries with 240 kilowatt hours (kWh).

“The practical trials with the eActros are an important milestone on the way to series production,” Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Truck, noted in a statement. “We want to use the comprehensive findings to realize electric trucks that are economically comparable to diesel trucks for inner-city distribution from 2021.”

Bucher added that the company’s focus is on the operating range and cost of the batteries, and also on the infrastructure necessary for operations within its commercial fleets.

During the test phase, drivers are able to contact dedicated Mercedes-Benz Trucks representatives to relay information about the vehicle in the form of voice messages sent directly from the cab, and Daimler will also continuously record all the relevant vehicle data and evaluate it.

The trials are all part of Hermes’s plan of making deliveries in all urban centers in Germany emission-free by 2025. The company is already using battery-electric vans to cover the “last mile” of deliveries.

Not content with just being electric, Daimler is also opening an automated truck research and development center in Portland, Ore., which is designing automated driving platforms for the company’s bus and truck division.

The global race to develop and deploy commercial-grade electric and autonomous trucks is accelerating, with Volvo recently unveiling a self-driving tow vehicle bearing little resemblance to your classic big rig.

More akin to the bottom half of a futuristic sports car, the vehicle is designed to drive regular, repetitive routes of short distances while towing large volumes of goods.

These autonomous electric vehicles are linked to a cloud service and a transport control center and carry sensors designed to locate their current position to within centimeters.

Hyundai has also published the first official images of its hydrogen fuel cell heavy duty truck to be unveiled in Germany this week.

The South Korean automaker will use the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2018 show in Hannover to announce plans for introducing the fuel cell electric truck in the European eco-friendly commercial vehicle market as well revealing full vehicle specifications.

In addition, Japanese auto giant Toyota is pushing a hydrogen fuel-cell alternative to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with the unveiling of a heavy duty truck boasting a range of more than 300 miles.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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