USA: Daimler Truck, Paccar & Cummins to build LFP batteries
Daimler Truck together with Cummins, Paccar and Eve Energy are planning to build batteries for electric commercial vehicles in the United States. The planned joint venture expects to invest 2-3 billion dollars in a 21 gigawatt-hour factory.
Accelera by Cummins, the company’s zero-emissions business unit, Daimler Truck and Paccar will each own 30% of the joint venture, with Eve Energy signing for the remaining ten per cent. The company will contribute its know-how in battery cell design and manufacturing.
The other owners hope to “create the necessary scale for access to cost-effective and differentiated battery cell technology, ultimately creating value for commercial vehicle customers in North America”.
The initial focus will be on lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries for battery-electric trucks. The joint venture says its LFP cells will offer (the usual) advantages compared to other battery chemistries, including lower cost, longer life, and enhanced safety, without the need for nickel and cobalt raw materials.
Cummins has some experience with LFP Chemistry. The US company acquired Meritor last year and unveiled the ePowertrain 17Xe, equipped with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery pack, a first in Cummins’ battery line. The company then launched Accelera this March that acts as both a component supplier and integrator.
“We have the responsibility to decarbonize in a way that is best for all of our stakeholders and the planet. This requires working closely with key partners,” said Jennifer Rumsey, Cummins Chair and Chief Executive Officer. “Today’s announcement reflects that action. Not only are we advancing a key technology solution for our customers, but accelerating the energy transition in the United States.”
Vehicle builder Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) comprises the Freightliner and Western Star brands and the school bus label Thomas Built Buses in the USA. Together with Cummings, it is also working on a fuel cell Freightliner truck.
CEO Martin Daum said, “For Daimler Truck, partnerships and a strict focus on costs and smart capital allocation are the key levers to succeed on the path towards sustainable transportation. This planned joint venture enables economies of scale beyond Daimler Truck. It is a key puzzle piece of our battery industrialization strategy, ensuring access to the right battery cell technology at the right cost.”
DTNA launched a new electric truck brand called Rizon in the US in April 2023. Rizon’s first models, due to launch later this year, also come equipped with LFP batteries. According to Daimler, it chose to use LFP because it has double the life of other cathode materials and better reliability. Rizon vehicles are probably essentially the Fuso eCanter with a different brand logo and may be made in Japan.
In Europe, Daimler Truck is constructing a battery centre with Innolab adjacent to its plant in the German town of Mannheim, as reported. There, however, the partners will work on Li-ion technology.
At the same time, Daimler Truck has switched to lithium iron phosphate cell technology for the first time in its newest electric heavyweight, the eActros 600, due to debut this October, so far in Europe. Usually, Daimler gets its battery cells from CATL.
As for the planned US battery joint venture, the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.
Details on likely locations, the excat investment or federal funding have not been disclosed. The final decision will likely depend on subsidies.