Not so long ago, the idea of a fully electric heavy truck simply wouldn't have been entertained. Today, however, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the 26-tonne (28.7-ton) electrically powered Urban eTruck, which points to a future of zero emission, noise-free large truck deliveries.
Mercedes has already been putting light electric trucks through their paces since 2014, with its Fuso Canter E-Cell. Successful trials have been carried out in both Portugal and more recently, Germany, with the truck expected to be made available commercially under the name of the Fuso eCanter.
The automaker says, however, that until recently, the costs and ranges of the batteries required for heavy electric trucks made them unfeasible. That has since changed, though, and continues to do so. Indeed, according to Daimler Trucks (a sister company of Mercedes-Benz), the costs of batteries is likely to fall by 60 percent between 1997 and 2025 and power is expected to increase by around 250 percent over the same period.
The eTruck is based on a heavy-duty, three-axle short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck, albeit with the conventional drivetrain swapped out for an electrically driven rear axle with electric motors adjacent to the wheel hubs. This setup is pulled over from the Mercedes-Benz Citaro hybrid bus.
The motors can kick out 125 kW (168 hp) each and have a peak torque of 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) each. Mercedes says that, when combined with the gearing of the vehicle, torque at the wheel hits 11,000 Nm (8,113 lb-ft). The power for all this is supplied by three lithium-ion battery modules with a total capacity of 212 kWh. These provide a range up up to up to 200 km (124 mi), which Mercedes says is enough for a typical urban daily delivery tour.
The battery unit is charged using the 100-kW Europe-wide standardized Combined Charging System Type 2 connector. A full charge can apparently be delivered in two to three hours.
The eTruck is being presented in Stuttgart today and will debut publicly at the 2016 IAA International Motor Show for Commercial Vehicles. The plan is for the concept to be tested and developed in the coming years, with Mercedes suggesting that the technology could receive a market launch at the start of the next decade.