Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced its plan to convert their Portland plant in Oregon for the production of electric trucks under Freightliner banner next year. Serial production of the eM2 and eCascadia models is set to start in 2021.
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The decision fell in favour of Portland because of its proximity to EV-strong California, Daimler Trucks said. In addition to production, the Portland site will also host a battery storage facility and an electric vehicle co-creation centre, where the team will work with customers. The idea is to help transform fleets “from order intake through the second life of the truck,” states DTNA.
Daimler presented the eM2 and eCascadia for the first time in mid-2018. As far as the technical details of the two electric trucks are concerned, the following is known: The Freightliner eCascadia is an electric offshoot of the Cascadia long-haul truck with a range of up to 400 km and an output of around 537 kW. The 550 kWh battery used in the truck should be rechargeable to about 80 per cent within 1.5 hours. The vehicle permits a total weight of over 15 tons.
The Freightliner eM2, on the other hand, competes in the medium-heavyweight segment with a permissible total weight of nine to twelve tons. With a battery capacity of 325 kWh, the eM2 can travel up to 370 km and delivers 353 kW. The charging process (to 80 per cent) should not take longer than one hour.
Both trucks are to go into serial production in 2021 and then join the Fuso eCanter, the Mercedes-Benz eActros and the fully electric Saf-T-Liner eC2 school bus of the Daimler subsidiary Thomas Built Buses. The latter is about to start production in the States as well. The Proterra-powered model is assembled at the plant in High Point, North Carolina.
Roger Nielsen, head of Daimler Truck North America, made clear his views on the future of the commercial vehicle segment when he said: “The road to emissions-free transportation is going to be driven with battery-electric vehicles.” Still, Freightliner offers an interim solution in natural gas vehicles already that will help DTNA to skip plug-in hybrids entirely. For fuel cell vehicles, Nielsen does “see glimpse [sic] of it over the horizon, but it will not be this generation of engineers who will be delivering it,” says the CEO.
Meanwhile, the eM2 and eCascadia have been in fleet trials with US customers for several months. Penske Truck Leasing, for example, uses several units in distribution. Last year, Daimler Trucks also set up the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council, in which the manufacturer and 30 customers are working on a “holistic approach to launching electric trucks”.
Update 08 April 2021: Daimler Trucks is now opening the order books in North America for the Freightliner eCascadia and Freightliner eM2 electric truck models. Series production of the two models in Portland is now scheduled to start at the end of 2022, one year later than initially announced above.
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.
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