Daimler Trucks North America has recorded more than 1 million miles of real-world driving in its Class 8 and Class 6 electric trucks, letting fleets try them out in the hopes that orders will follow.
Separately, competitor Volvo Trucks on Wednesday announced its largest order to date, 100 FM Electric trucks in Europe. Volvo has delivered Class 8 VNR Electric models in California, New York and Texas.
Daimler, which had more than 40 electric trucks in evaluation fleets with NFI Industries and Penske Truck Leasing in Southern California, also offered short-term tryouts through a Customer Experience Fleet to nearly 50 current customers in the U.S. and Canada, hoping they would place orders for the battery-powered trucks that will be delivered in late 2022.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District partially funded the evaluation fleets. The district focuses on improving air quality in the areas around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where long lines of idling diesel trucks foul the air on drayage routes that cross neighborhoods near the ports.
A ‘tipping point’
“We have reached a tipping point in our electrification journey,” Rakesh Aneja, DTNA vice president and chief of eMobility, said in a press release. “After a million miles of learning … we are ready to move from prototype to scale — from tens of customer experience trucks to hundreds of production units.”
At the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in September, California environmental authorities announced they would cover most of the cost of 80 Freightliner eCascadias for NFI Industries and for-hire carrier Schneider, whose fleet consists of about 95% Freightliners.
Daimler shared feedback from each fleet that used the trucks as part of its Electric Vehicle Council.
“Our rigorous testing has revealed powertrain and auxiliary components, including HVAC, thermal management and low voltage electrical, are high performing and more than up to the job,” said Andreas Juretzka, DTNA head of electric mobility product development.
Regenerative braking benefits
One significant lesson was the importance of regenerative braking, which redirects energy from braking back to the battery. Across the pilots, the average recuperation ratio was 20-25% with some drivers achieving up to 30%, Juretzka said.
DTNA is not stopping its electrification efforts with the trucks. It has an in-house Detroit eConsulting team that offers an end-to-end process for electrifying customer fleets and navigating charging infrastructure.
In May, DTNA’s Detroit technology unit launched Detroit eFill chargers, a full line of commercial vehicle charging stations designed for seamless integration with the Detroit ePowertrain in the eCascadia and eM2 trucks. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz powertrain plants in Germany have started production of key components for the battery-powered eActros.
Volvo’s big EV order
At Volvo, the order for 100 FM Electric came from DFDS, Northern Europe’s largest shipping and logistics company. The deal is among the largest to date for electric trucks worldwide.
“This will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey,”Roger Alm, president of Sweden-based Volvo Trucks, said in a press release.
Initial deliveries of the Volvo FM Electric to DFDS will start in the fourth quarter of 2022 and continue throughout 2023. The trucks will be used for both short and long transport in the DFDS logistics system in Europe.
The FM Electric can carry a gross combination weight of 44 tons and has a range of up to 186 miles. Charging can be done overnight or via high-power direct current charging while the rucks are in service.