World premiere: Clear the stage for the Mercedes-Benz eActros 600
With confidence, Daimler Truck is putting the eActros 600 in the spotlight. It was unveiled today at the Break Autohof Hamburg Nordheide on the A7 in Egestorf, Germany. According to the Stuttgart-based company, the model kicks off the replacement of diesel-powered trucks in the segment. The heavy electric truck will lead the way in terms of technology, sustainability, design and profitability. Therefore, developers swerved from conventional design in quite a few points – and that does not only apply to EV-specific parts.
But let’s take it one step at a time and first look at the technical data sheet. The eActros 600 has a gross combination weight of up to 44 tonnes. With a standard trailer, it provides a payload of about 22 tonnes. In terms of sales, the main focus will be on Europe. The length of the eActros is unusual: as a tractor unit, it is 6.23 metres long. That is allowed thanks to new EU legislation.
Four gears for long-distance transport
The eActros 600 has an electric axle developed in-house with two electric motors and a four-speed gearbox. The system is designed for 800 volts and generates 400 kW continuous and 600 kW peak power. According to Mercedes-Benz Trucks, the drive was specially developed for heavy long-distance transport – which is also why it was deliberately equipped with four gears. The medium-duty eActros 300/400 already on the market combines two electric motors with a two-speed transmission.
The battery’s energy content in the eActros 600, which is decisive for the type designation, is around 600 kWh. To be precise – it is 621 kWh gross, divided into three packs of 207 kWh each. At an exclusive media event in the run-up to the world premiere at the main plant in Wörth am Rhein, we learned that 95 per cent of the gross content can be used. That is possible thanks to the (together with CATL) adapted LFP cells and helps “not to lug around unnecessary weight,” Michael Wolf, Project Manager R&D eActros 600, said. Each pack weighs 1.5 tonnes, so the total battery weight is 4.5 tonnes. The wheelbase of the tractor unit was stretched to four metres to accommodate the packs between the axles. That is the first reason for the above-mentioned length increase of the eActros.
The 600 will also be offered as a platform chassis variant with a wheelbase of 4.6 or 4.9 metres. The aim is to “cover all common long-distance transport versions,” says Wolf.
The manufacturer puts the range at 500 kilometres, and the daily range with intermediate charging during the legally prescribed driver breaks is expected to be “significantly more than 1,000 kilometres” – even before the introduction of megawatt charging. Recuperation, which can be set to five different levels (including one-pedal driving), plays a significant role.
Meanwhile, the LFP technology mentioned above has a long service life: Daimler Truck aims for a mileage of 1.2 million kilometres in ten years of operation – analogous to diesel trucks. After this period of use, the “state of health” of the battery should still be above 80 per cent.
The CCS port and the future MCS port are located on the left side of the vehicle behind the driver’s cab. With MCS, this is part of the standardisation. Ergo, all MCS-capable vehicles will have their charging port in the same place in future. Optionally, customers can get another CCS port on the right-hand side of the eActros 600.
PTOs with a power range between 22 and 90 kW
The front box under the cab is also worth mentioning. It is a technology module with several control units, HV components, an electric air compressor, and the power take-offs developed for the 600. The range includes an electric-mechanical power take-off (e.g. for tipper semi-trailers, walking-floor trailers or silo trailers) as well as electric DC or AC PTOs (e.g. for refrigerated boxes or trailers) with a power range between 22 and 90 kW.
Visually, Daimler Truck opted for a mixture of brand-defining design elements and a construction method geared to aerodynamics. The cab, for example, is slightly curved towards the front – up to about eight centimetres – and thus forms a “streamlined shape.” That is the second reason for the eActros’ length.
The front is closed, the underbody is covered, and the A-pillars are equipped with air deflectors. All gap dimensions have been optimised, and the vehicle is “sealed” in the best possible way, we learned at the briefing in Wörth. There is also an additional pre-spoiler on the roof, extended trailing edge flaps in sail optik and so-called chassis-fixed wheel arches. The aerodynamics package also comes with Led Matrix headlights and an LED light strip that is not completely continuous for regulatory reasons.
Let’s look at the new model’s charging characteristics. The eActros 600 is capable of CCS charging with up to 400 kW but will, of course, also be capable of megawatt charging (MCS) later. Since Daimler Truck wants to launch the 600 before the standard is fully developed, the manufacturer solves this dilemma with an optional pre-fitting. In other words, customers will receive their eActros 600 on request with a placeholder for the later MCS port and support technology already installed. “As soon as the standard is released, the landing connector will be easy to retrofit,” project manager Tilmann Morlok told us. The batteries of the 600 can then be charged from 20 to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes with about one megawatt of power.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks announces that it intends to market the cabin under the name “ProCabin.” According to developers, its cW value is 9 per cent lower than the current Actros series cab. Since aerodynamics is not a BEV-specific issue, findings from the development could also be transferred back to future diesel models, we were told in Wörth.
But the fact remains: “Specifically with battery electric trucks in long-haul operation, improved aerodynamics are of decisive importance as air resistance is one of the main factors influencing energy consumption.”
That brings us to the predicted profitability of the electric colossus. The Stuttgart-based company claims that it will set new standards in profitability for fleet operators, “over the long term replacing the majority of diesel trucks in the important long-haul transport segment.” The timeframe within which customers can achieve cost parity with a diesel truck depends primarily on the prevailing toll systems, the price of electricity and the price of diesel. Daimler Truck estimates that in France (low electricity price) and Germany (planned CO2-based truck toll), the model could be more profitable than a diesel long-haul truck within the average vehicle service life of about five years or after about 600,000 kilometres – despite a purchase price that is about two and a half times higher than the diesel equivalent. In principle, the eActros 600 is expected to save a good 80 per cent CO2 over its entire life cycle compared to diesel trucks, although the ex-works CO2 footprint is initially higher for the BEV model due to the battery.
Public charging infrastructure is essential
However, there is one drawback. Daimler Truck states that about 60 per cent of the long-distance journeys driven by customers in Europe are shorter than 500 kilometres. In that case, charging infrastructure at the depot and the loading and unloading points is sufficient. But: “For all other uses, continual expansion of public charging infrastructure is vital in order to make the electric truck viable for long-distance haulage across Europe.” That statement is clearly intended for political representatives.
The sales launch of the eActros 600 is scheduled for later this year. The manufacturer does not get more precise at this point. The price has also not yet been made public. Series production is scheduled to start at the end of 2024. Currently, a fleet of about 50 prototypes is still being built. We recently took a ride in one of them – click here to read our experience report. In a next step, further prototypes will go to the first customers for practical testing.
Karin Rådström, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, commented on the unveiling of her company’s first heavy-duty e-truck as follows: “The eActros 600 stands for the transformation of road freight transport towards CO2-neutrality like no other truck with a three-pointed star. It is characterized by highly innovative drive technology that can offer our customers particularly high energy efficiency and thus profitability. This makes entry into e-mobility even more attractive for fleet operators.”
The eActros 600 will be manufactured on the existing assembly line together with diesel examples in Wörth. Mercedes-Benz Trucks already applies this principle to the eActros 300/400, whereby the EV components of this smaller model are installed in a separate hall. According to project manager Morlok, it should be possible to outsource less in the case of the eActros 600. In other words, there will be more integration of EV components on the existing line. In principle, the manufacturer relies on flexible production on a single line, as the quantities in the BEV segment are not yet profitable for separate production at the beginning.
Daimler Truck promises a holistic transport solution consisting of vehicle technology, consulting, charging infrastructure and services to encourage early adopters. One example is a multimedia cockpit (Interactive 2) installed as standard, which continuously informs drivers about the charge status of the batteries, the remaining range and the current and average energy consumption. Fleet managers can also request digital solutions to manage their fleet efficiently. And: from mid-2024, Mercedes-Benz Trucks plans to offer charging stations through its dealers.
Translation by Carla Westerheide