Written by Theo Koenig – September 22, 2020
Edited by Kfir Kedem
Mercedes-Daimler announced last week their plans for their CO2-neutral trucking future. At the event in Berlin, Germany, 3 different trucks were announced. The clear underlying theme here is that Daimler wants to hit as many green-customer segments as possible.
GenH2: This hydrogen-fuel cell-powered truck will have captured most of the headlines due to the futuristic look and the advanced technology it will employ. As of now, a range of 1000km on a single charge has been set, though this can be increased based on customer demands. Customer trials are set to start in 2023 and production is planned for “the second-half of this decade”. The use of two liquid hydrogen tanks (LH2), as opposed to gaseous tanks, allows for a higher concentration of energy density in relation to volume. The technology will be developed in conjunction with the Volvo Group. Their preliminary partnership was announced, but not completed in April of this year to “decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems.” The trucks are also to be equipped with a 70kWh battery. While this may seem relatively low, especially in comparison with competitors, the battery is said to only kick-in during peak loads while accelerating or driving uphill. In fact, the lightness of the battery poses an advantage and allows the GenH2 to capture energy from braking and excess fuel-cell. 2 electric motors will provide a maximum of 2 x 330 kWh of power and 2 x 2071 Nm of Torque.
eActros Long Haul: The battery-electric powered vehicle is the big brother of the smaller eActros and made specifically for international long-haul journeys. The eActros Long Haul will fit into the same category as the GenH2 but will target customers who are not yet convinced by the viability of hydrogen fuel-cell technology and its current infrastructure. It has a range of roughly 500km, and production is set for 2024. The “lower” range in comparison with the GenH2 has been addressed by Mercedes-Daimler, by stating that legal limits require truck drives take 45-minute breaks after 4.5 hours of drive-time. The short range is therefore offset by the high energy efficiency and charge rate.
eActros: eActros was originally unveiled in 2018 and has been in the hands of several customers already, not commercially, but rather for extensive field testing. It is battery-electric powered and has a range of 200km on a single charge. While the low range may surprise some customers, Mercedes-Daimler have expressly stated that this truck is designed for lower cargo weights and urban distribution. The eActros will be the first of the three truck to be produced, starting in 2021 and will come with consulting services that include services for electric mobility, route analysis, eligible subsidiary checking, fleet integration, and the development of suitable charging stations. It will be offered as a two-axle and three-axle truck.
Lastly, the company announced that all three trucks as well as all forthcoming electric trucks will be powered by the uniform architecture: ePowertrain. What sets it apart is the integration of the axel with one or two motors and transmission as opposed to concepts with one central motor. It allows for a compact design that allows for the installation of a larger battery and ensures high-power transmission to the e-axle.
Auto Trendy’s take:
Many eyebrows were raised regarding Daimler’s use of hydrogen technology. With battery-electric vehicles becoming cheaper and easier to produce, the general census seems to be that hydrogen-fuel cells, who do not yet have the benefits of a comprehensive charging infrastructure, are unnecessary. We at Auto Trendy, however, disagree with this opinion, especially when it comes to trucks. In an industry where shedding weight means everything, we see Daimler’s move as a smart, albeit long-term strategy that will pay its dividends in the near future. Besides, by offering a comparable truck that employs battery-electric technology, the company has hit all the possible bases and will take no risks when it comes to interpreting customer opinions. The subtle announcement on Sunday was actually one of the most interesting parts of the release – An identical powertrain (ePowertrain) that will certainly provide synergy among the different technology departments and will lead to economies of scale in the future due to the use of uniform components among different trucking sectors.