Mercedes is as well known for its luxury cars as it for its well-built workhorse truck range. At least for those involved in the transport business, that is. Now, Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler—the world’s largest truck manufacturer—is leading the way in the future of transport: electric trucks.
The third incarnation of Daimler-owned manufacturer, Fuso’s electric truck was announced at the 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Germany last year. The new eCanter differs from the previous Canter E-Cell in several important ways, and represents a viable solution for small-scale transport operations in the immediate future.
The Canter E-Cell underwent extensive trials in Portugal and Germany, resulting in detailed customer feedback which enabled Fuso to build upon and improve their design. The new eCanter boasts a permanent synchronous electric motor, which puts out a remarkable 185kW, and 380Nm of torque. Expected to achieve 62 miles (around 100km) per charge, it’s water-cooled lithium ion batteries will recharge in as little as 60 minutes. A small production run is being made in 2017 for Europe, the USA and Japan, with full-scale production expected to begin in 2019. According to Fuso Truck and Bus Director, Justin Whitford, Australia will play host to a trial of its very own this year, too.
“We are excited to be able to conduct a local trial with the ground breaking all-electric Fuso eCanter in Australia,” said Whitford.
“Despite the weight of the battery pack,” says Whitford. “The Fuso eCanter nevertheless boasts an outstanding weight balance: the chassis load capacity of the 7.5-tonne vehicle is 4.63-tonnes including the body and load.”
The eCanter will be easily adapted to each customer’s needs around range, price and weight, thanks to its individual battery packs, which in sets of three to six, put out 14kWh each. Thanks to decreased costs of manufacturing battery components, the electric truck will not only reduce emissions to zero, and help to reduce exhaust pollution in built-up areas, but will also represent a real and affordable alternative to standard diesel vehicles.
Meanwhile, over at Tesla…
Earlier this year, Tesla’s Elon Musk was crowing about the imminent release of his firm’s first foray into the heavy-duty sector. As a part of Musk’s ‘Master Plan, Part Deux’, Tesla is working on the Tesla Semi.
“We believe the Tesla Semi will deliver a substantial reduction in the cost of cargo transport, while increasing safety and making it really fun to operate,” says Musk.
Automation of these kinds of vehicles is a part of the bigger picture, and according to Musk, is the inevitable progression of automotive technology. Driverless buses and trucks are a thing of the not-too-distant future, by all accounts; and will soon see the transport sector enjoy increased efficiency, decreased costs and improved safety.
While Tesla are investigating a different class of truck (for now), head of Daimler Trucks Asia, Marc Llistosella welcomes the challenge.
“In trucks, of course [Elon Musk’s] stepping into it, but we don’t see him as someone who is threatening us because you need a whole infrastructure,” Llistosella told Business Insider. “You need dealerships, you need infrastructure, you need maintenance.”
“It’s not so easy like a consumer good, it’s an industrial good, so it will be very difficult for him.”
But wait, there’s Ford
Not ones to be left out of the innovation race, Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL and Ford are collaborating to bring their own electric commercial vehicle to the market. Working on the existing Ford Transit chassis, the team are due to start development on a battery-electric drive train this month.
“Before the end of 2018, at least 2,500 vehicles will support the urban delivery traffic of Deutsche Post DHL Group,” said a DHL press release. “With this volume, the joint project will become the largest manufacturer of battery-electric medium-duty delivery vehicles in Europe.”
Both companies have cited a strong desire to reduce emissions as a focus for their innovations going forward.
“It will relieve the inner cities and increase the people’s quality of life. We will continue working on completely carbon neutral CO2-neutral logistics.”
According to Prime Mover Magazine:
“DHL has already left its mark in the smaller van segment by designing and producing the emission-free StreetScooter in house. The joint Ford project will build on the existing production processes and could see DHL produce up to 20,000 units per year.”