HANNOVER, Germany — Daimler Truck is changing battery chemistry for its future long-haul electric trucks to boost driving range beyond 300 miles on a single charge while eliminating the use of cobalt and nickel.
The world’s largest truck maker showed its eActros long-haul electric truck for the first time Sunday evening before the opening of the IAA Transportation 2022 show.
Rather than the commonly used lithium-ion chemistry, the eActros long-haul truck will use lithium-iron phosphate (LFP), expected to allow more charging cycles and more usable power per cell.
Up to 80% state of charge in 30 minutes
The truck also will be equipped for megawatt charging, which is unavailable in any current electric truck.
“Customers can go from a 20% to 80% state of charge in less than 30 minutes,” said Karin Rådström, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks. That should allow most charging needs to be met at fleet depots rather than through public infrastructure.
Nonetheless, Daimler Truck is collaborating with rivals Volvo Group and Traton Group on a $593 million European public infrastructure network for truck charging. Daimler Truck North America is pursuing a similar network in collaboration with BlackRock, Renewable Power and NextEra Energy Resources.
The new truck enters commercial production in late 2024 in Europe. The battery technology will underpin future versions of the market-leading Freightliner Cascadia. No timing was announced. Freightliner is just beginning commercial production of the eCascadia in Portland, Oregon. The typical single-charge range for the eCascadia is 230 miles.
The eActros 300 is the basis for the current generation eCascadia. It has been in production for about a year in Europe.
Product and technology sharing globally
Daimler Truck AG, which became a stand-alone company in 2021, strives for “maximum commonality” among its divisions, said Martin Daum, Daimler Truck CEO.
Though sold in Europe under the Mercedes-Benz brand, the Daimler Truck group is no longer a corporate part of the passenger car and light truck entity renamed Mercedes-Benz in the split-off.
“Whatever you see here, you will see in the United States,” Daum said.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. is Daimler Truck’s main battery supplier is (CATL). It is one of the world’s leading energy storage companies. The LPF chemistry is very new and the specific technology will be exclusive to Daimler, Daum said.
LFP chemistry has drawbacks — it is not very energy dense — but it is durable enough to last for 10,000 cycles and to safely use 100% of the battery pack capacity, Neil Yang, CATL sales director of light commercial vehicles and trucks, told FreightWaves. The market for truck electrification is still small, but CATL has more than 50% share, he said.
Natural gas off the table at Daimler
Daimler continues to make improvements in diesel trucks but focuses on electric and hydrogen fuel cells. In remarks to a media gathering Sunday, Daum dismissed natural gas as part of trucking’s future. He made similar remarks about Level 3 semi-autonomous trucks and platooning technology three and a half years ago. The industry largely followed his lead in both areas.
“We are convinced our industry will need a dual strategy for the sustainable transport of the future,” he said. “We are also convinced we do not need a triple strategy that includes natural gas. Gas-powered drives are just an expensive bridging technology that still relies on a fossil fuel that emits CO2.”
Drivers consider natural gas trucks lame because they are underpowered compared to diesel.,Daum said.
Up to 60% of total Daimler Trucks sold in Europe by 2030 will be zero emission, Rådström said.
The challenge of developing a dual infrastructure for green electricity and green hydrogen is critical because “using electricity off the grid will not be sufficient.” Daum said. “We need to import and store green energy, and the best carrier to do that is green hydrogen.
“Building two infrastructures, one for green electricity and one for green hydrogen, will be less expensive than building just one infrastructure,” he said. “It might sound counterintuitive. It is actually cheaper to scale two infrastructures to some medium level than to scale just one infrastructure to an extreme level.”