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Daimler and PGE creating Electric Island for truck charging

Site will offer fast charging above 1 megawatt in spring of 2021

A rendering of the Electric Island where commercial vehicles from light- to heavy-duty trucks will be able to charge in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Daimler Trucks North America)

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) are creating an Electric Island for commercial truck charging that will include fast charging of greater than 1 megawatt by the spring of 2021.

The development on Swan Island near DTNA’s headquarters in Portland, Oregon, is expected to be the first of its kind in the United States. The 50-50 joint venture site is under construction. Neither DTNA nor PGE revealed the cost of the project.

The greenhouse gas emissions-free site will support up to nine charging stations for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The initial chargers will be less than 200 kilowatts (kW),  totaling an initial 5 MW charging infrastructure.

Open to the public

Many of the chargers will be open to the public, which can pay for electricity by the minute or kW via mobile phone application, charging network membership cards or by credit card like other charging networks.

The use of on-site energy storage and advanced charge management software could enable additional capacity later. Plans for more chargers, on-site energy storage, solar power generation and a product and technology showcase building are being finalized. 

Equipment manufacturers include ABB (NYSE: ABB), BTC Power, ChargePoint (NYSE: SBE), Power Electronics and Proterra, in which DTNA parent Daimler Trucks AG is an investor.

Charging times expected to drop

Today’s prototype heavy-duty electric trucks, like the Freightliner eCascadia manufactured in Portland, need a few hours to fully recharge. Charging times are likely to drop dramatically for future vehicles capable of using megawatt-plus charging infrastructure. Those trucks could potentially recharge their batteries to 80% in as little as 20 to 40 minutes.

“We are excited to launch this cutting-edge partnership with DTNA, demonstrating what is possible when utilities and the automotive industry collaborate and innovate,” Maria Pope, PGE CEO, said in a press release. PGE is a national leader in using renewable energy.

Electric Island will help accelerate the development, testing and deployment of zero-emissions commercial vehicles as measured from tank to wheel. The intent is to use renewable electricity sources such as wind and solar power when possible.

“As the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, we can accelerate this shift and are excited to address, holistically, the complete electric vehicle ecosystem,” said DTNA CEO Roger Nielsen in the release.

Studying the future of heavy-duty truck charging

The truck maker and the utility are studying the future of heavy-duty charging, including:

  • Using vehicle chargers of greater than 1 MW — four times faster than today’s fastest light-duty vehicle chargers. The manufacturer of that charger was not revealed.
  • Integrating heavy-duty charging technology such as vehicle-to-grid, second-life use of DTNA battery packs and onsite energy generation into PGE’s Smart Grid.
  • Testing information technology opportunities from captive fleet and energy management services.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.