NFI, Penske to trial Freightliner electric trucks

 Penske and NFI will test DTNA's eCascadia (left) and eM2 electric truck models.

Penske and NFI will test DTNA's eCascadia (left) and eM2 electric truck models.

Third-party supply chain provider NFI along with Penske Truck Leasing will take delivery of and test Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) electric vehicles.

“Freightliner is excited to be working with Penske and NFI (CN: NFI) on this critical learning process as we further develop and refine our commercial electric vehicle technology. Running multiple trucks in real-world applications will provide better insights for our engineers into the requirements of integrating electric commercial vehicles into fleet operations,” said Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of DTNA. “We are partnering with these two customers for this phase of the co-creation process because they have use cases that closely fit the target applications we have identified. Both Penske and NFI are forward-thinking partners eager to take on the challenge, effort and investment that will be required during this important development phase.”

NFI will test 10 eCascadias in drayage operations in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, running the trucks to warehouses in California’s Inland Empire, DTNA said. Penske will deploy 10 eCascadias and 10 eM2s for use in California and the Pacific Northwest.

“Freightliner is excited to be working with Penske and NFI on this critical learning process as we further develop and refine our commercial electric vehicle technology. Running multiple trucks in real-world applications will provide better insights for our engineers into the requirements of integrating electric commercial vehicles into fleet operations,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA. “We are partnering with these two customers for this phase of the co-creation process because they have use cases that closely fit the target applications we have identified. Both Penske and NFI are forward-thinking partners eager to take on the challenge, effort and investment that will be required during this important development phase.”

Recently introduced, the Class 8 eCascadia tractor is an electrified version of the Freightliner Cascadia. The eCascadia will have up to 730 peak horsepower and an effective range of up to 250 miles with the ability to charge up to 80% (providing a range of 200 miles) in about 90 minutes. The eCascadia will have a GCWR of 80,000 lbs.

The eM2 truck will initially have up to 480 peak horsepower and a 230-mile range capable of charging up to 80% capacity in 60 minutes. The eM2 is designed for local distribution, pickup and delivery, food and beverage delivery, and last-mile logistics applications with a 26,000-lb. GCWR.

“Penske is committed to bringing the most effective commercial vehicle technologies to our customers,” said Brian Hard, President and CEO of Penske Truck Leasing. “We have had a long, collaborative relationship working with Daimler (US OTC: DDAIF) and its Freightliner brand. We are encouraged by the progress Daimler has made with their electric vehicle platforms for heavy-duty and medium-duty applications. We look forward to our continued cooperation and co-creation with Daimler on these electric vehicles as we operate them within our expansive logistics, truck leasing and rental fleets.”

Daimler is also creating an Electric Vehicle Council. The council is designed to help customers with use cases for electric vehicles and evaluating their viability in operations. Technical learnings from the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet and test fleet will be shared with the customer base in this forum, the company said.

DTNA will also utilize electric vehicles in its own test fleet and both what it learns as well as feedback gathered by the Council will be incorporated into the commercialization of the products.

DTNA plans to offer customers consulting services to assist with site selection based on truck applications, available government incentives, infrastructure deployment and route identification as part of a preliminary review prior to commercial electric vehicle business proposals. 

“The DTNA approach to bring commercial electric vehicles to market is holistic. With the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet, we will be working, hands on with Penske and NFI. As a separate part of a co-creation process we will also launch the EV Council that emphasizes shared learning before we begin series vehicle production,” said Richard Howard, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Freightliner Trucks. “While heavy-duty electric vehicles present the greatest engineering challenges, we’re committed to a process that leads to series production vehicles that are safe, reliable and efficient. We don’t compromise on this key component of the Freightliner brand legacy. We’ve been successfully mass producing durable commercial vehicles for decades that stand up to the rigors of the road. Electric commercial vehicles present a real opportunity to reduce emissions and enhance our customers’ bottom lines through improved uptime and lower operating costs.” 

Last fall,, DTNA put into operation a Fuso eCanter that UPS is testing in New York City. The eCanter is a series-produced all-electric light-duty truck. Daimler expects to make 500 of the vehicles for customers in the U.S., Europe and Japan over the next two years with larger scale production beginning in 2019. The e-Canter is a zero-emission vehicle designed for local delivery with a range of about 62 miles on a single charge and load capacity of about 7,000 pounds. The vehicle´s electric powertrain contains six high voltage lithium ion battery packs with 420 V and 13.8 kWh each.

The company also just announced an all-electric Thomas Built Bus, the Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley.