Trucks plug into the power grid
The image of those enormous, slow, polluting and thunderous diesel trucks that populate our roads will be a thing of the past in a few years’ time. The leading brands are already testing their electric models.
Let’s consider two declarations: “Our electric truck will be ready in September. We’ve done a marvellous job.” And: “Our challenge is to offer solutions for transporting goods that make it safer and more efficient than ever“. The first was made by Tesla founder Elon Musk on his Twitter account. The second was made at a press conference by a member of the Board of Directors of Daimler, Wolfgang Bernhard.
It is particularly significant that two pioneer car brands publicly advocate eco-friendly transport vehicles. Tesla was a pioneer in the development of high-performance electric vehicles and Mercedes is considered, by some, the inventor of the car as we know it today.
“Our challenge is to offer solutions for transporting goods that make it safer and more efficient than ever.”
Wolfgang Bernhard, Director of Daimler.
Tesla’s objective is a truck with the same features, range and potential as one powered by a diesel engine. The concept, a prototype, will be presented in September, although we may have to wait a few years before we see it circulating on our roads.
Mercedes has announced that it intends to mass produce its eTruck (an electric truck intended for urban transport) by 2020 and, in 2017, transferred 150 pre-series units to other companies and users, with the aim of sharing experiences and continuing to perfect the model. The truck is capable of transporting up to 25 tonnes and is said to have a range of 200 kilometres on a single charge.
According to declarations by Stefan Buchner, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Truck Division, after a first test session, “it has zero emissions, is as silent as a whisper and has a useful load of up to 12.8 tonnes”. In forthcoming years, the brand also intends to launch the transport van Vision Van, also intended for urban use. At the same time, it is also developing the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, a self-driving truck currently in the testing phase. To this end, the company has obtained a licence from the State of Nevada, which has granted use of a highway near Las Vegas. It plans to include this self-driving system in its future electric trucks.
“The urban eTruck offers an impressive economical and eco-friendly concept.”
Stefan Buchner, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Truck Division.
Another company with a long tradition in truck manufacturing, MAN, has announced that it will begin to test its electric models at the end of this year, in collaboration with the Council for Sustainable Logistics (CNL), which brings together five of the largest logistics companies in Austria, and these tests will involve routes along various Austrian roads and motorways in 2019. Joachim Drees, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MAN Truck & Bus, has publicly announced that, “At the end of that year we will commence the series production of a fully electric urban bus and the beginning of 2021 will definitely see the arrival of the series-production electric truck.”
In addition, Volvo has announced that from 2019 it will only produce electric and hybrid cars. Bearing in mind the importance of the Swedish brand’s Truck Division in its income statement, it is to be expected that Volvo will also promote freight transport powered by batteries. Eduardo Martín, a journalist specialising in technology, sees it as an unstoppable and logical trend. “In addition to representing a considerable reduction in harmful emissions on our roads, electric trucks are safer. A normal diesel truck can have up to 18 gears, which implies much slower acceleration. An electric truck has full torque from the start, so that it can overtake with a much greater safety margin.”