Mercedes-Benz eActros is not just a rigid, it’s a tractor unit as well, helping to complete their regional and long haul future strategy along with GenH2.
Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul makes the case for a fully electric tractor unit in certain cases.
At the same time that Mercedes-Benz Trucks were announcing their all new Hydrogen Fuel Cell concept truck the GenH2, they also took the opportunity to explain their overall “Bumper to Bumper” Zero emission strategy.
This included an announcement that the eActros, currently configured as an three axle rigid will also be available as a tractor unit running at 40 tonnes GCW. Whilst at first glance, the battery electric vehicle (BEV) concept for a semi-trailer combination may appear at odds with the perceived wisdom that batteries are for urban and Hydrogen for long haul, they see a potential for this application. Indeed Mercedes-Benz Trucks announced their solution for long haul was Hydrogen Fuel Cell under their GenH2 project, but then announced the eActros tractor at the same event.
When is long haul NOT long haul?
The answer : Basically when its regional or operationally suitable.
The eActros Long Haul will be in the same vehicle class as the GenH2 truck. and it will look like it as can be seen in the images at the start of the piece. The only perceivable difference between the two is the GenH2 having blue LED style lighting around the cab area and a different coloured “Star”.
eActros Tractor Applications
This truck is all about operational suitably, with a range of around 500 kms on one charge, it is easily envisaged that many regional and International ( we are talking Europe here) could conceivability use the eActros due to its high efficiency and relatively low cost of ownership compared to Hydrogen. Mercedes-Benz Trucks claim many of the long-haul applications do not require a range greater than around the 500 kilometres covered by eActros Of course, European transport law requires truck drivers to take a break of at least 45 minutes at the latest after 4.5 hours of driving thus potentially allowing a large proportion of the battery to be charged. Ultimately Mercedes-Benz Trucks feel this will suit operators with plannable routes and with the appropriate distances and charging possibilities.
Charging Infrastructure can be ready soon
Unlike the needs of the hydrogen fuel cell powered GenH2, Mercedes-Benz believe that by the time the eActros tractor is in series production in 2024 the necessary infrastructure could be in place at comparatively low cost to transport companies by charging at their depots.
Apparently, they feel this is the key to the wider adoption of battery powered heavy trucks but getting operators to invest in this infrastructure may not be as simple as they think.
Each depot is unique in its electrical habitat and so the investment range will be extremely variable , not only financially but also functionally. I have no doubt all manufacturers recognise this issue and whilst there are some obvious solutions to this issue, the winner will be the one that grasps opportunity ( because it is an opportunity) and provides the most palatable solution – but that’s for a different day and different feature!
Of course opportunity charging for range extension, for example, while unloading or loading will be an added bonus, but this again, has its issues not least for companies sub-contracting their transport or taking deliveries only.
The final piece in the jigsaw will be the public charging infrastructure to cater for for energy demand trucks with batteries ranging from 150kWh to probably 500kWh or above.