On Thursday, Daimler announced that it would bring its line of short-haul electric trucks to the US. The United Parcel Service (UPS) will buy the first three trucks, and Daimler is also offering eight trucks to New York City-based non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the New York Botanical Garden, Habitat for Humanity New York City, and Big Reuse Brooklyn.
The company highlighted that the trucks had reduced noise and emissions, which made them well-suited to making trips in urban areas.The Fuso eCanter trucks will have a range of 62 miles (or about 100km) and will be sold in Japan and Europe as well. Daimler said it’s only planning on producing 500 trucks in the next year, but it intends to start mass-producing the trucks in 2019. It’s unclear how much these trucks cost.
The trucks have a load capacity of three and a half tons, Daimler said, with a powertrain that draws on “six high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs with 420 V and 13.8 kWh each.”
“In comparison with a conventional diesel truck, it offers savings up to 1,000 Euro per 10,000 kilometers on operating costs,” Daimler claimed.
Electrifying trucking is a hot topic these days. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said his company is building a long-haul semi, to be announced some time in late October, which Reuters reported will have a range of 200 to 300 miles. Other companies, like Wrightspeed, Proterra, and BYD, have built electric powertrains for heavy-duty urban vehicles like buses. Electrifying slow-moving vehicles like buses is possible with current battery technology, but as the heavy vehicle starts moving faster, battery capacity becomes an issue.
But automakers seem up to the challenge. In August, diesel truck engine maker Cummins announced an electric powertrain for truck makers that can be paired with an auxiliary diesel generator. And in a statement, Head of Daimler Trucks Asia Marc Llistosella hinted that his company is wasting no time in competing with Tesla. “In times when everybody is talking about electric trucks, we are the first to actually commercialize a series-produced all-electric truck. Having a long history in alternative drivetrains, we are proud to step into this new era.”
Reuters noted that Daimler officials plan to step up the power and range of their trucks. Llistosella told reporters that “the game has started” while revealing that a larger electric truck will be shown off by Daimler at the Tokyo Motor Show next month. “The company will expand its electric truck production as lower cost, longer-range batteries become available within two to three years,” Reuters reported.