First customer of the second test phase in Germany starts using the all-electric Mercedes-Benz eActros

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 18, 2020

As the first customer of the second test phase in Germany, DB Schenker has received a battery-electric eActros from the ‘innovation fleet‘. This leading company for global logistics services will use the 25-ton truck for the delivery of general cargo – i.e., palletised goods that are too large and heavy for parcel delivery – in the city centre of Leipzig. The eActros has a range of approximately 200km and will cover about 100km daily. The batteries of the electric truck will be charged at night at a charging station on the premises of DB Schenker in the north of the city. For more than a year now, DB Schenker has also been operating five Fuso eCanter light-duty trucks from Daimler Trucks in Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Paris. 

The starting signal was given for the second test phase of the Mercedes-Benz eActros innovation fleet with a customer in the Netherlands in early August 2020. More of the purely battery-powered trucks are now successively going to customers in Germany and Belgium. 

“The eActros has been proving its worth since 2018 in multi-faceted practical use with customers as a locally CO2-neutral alternative for urban distribution transport,” said Rico Claassen, fleet customer manager at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “The test customers in the second phase are also using the eActros for tasks that would otherwise be performed by conventional trucks. The body variants range from refrigerated and dry boxes to tarpaulins. We are delighted that DB Schenker, as a pioneer for alternative drive systems in transport logistics, is now also electrifying the city centre of Leipzig with the eActros.” 

DB Schenker senior vice president head of network and line haul management Wolfgang Janda said as a pioneer for innovative logistic solutions with a company-wide fleet more than 30,000 vehicles, DB Schenker has set itself the goal of becoming the world‘s leading provider of green logistics.

“Our success is based not only on our reliable logistics services, but also on our commitment to society and the environment. This naturally includes a vehicle mix with alternative drive systems. The light-duty Fuso eCanter from Daimler Trucks has already proven its suitability for everyday use in various cities. We are now looking forward to seeing how the eActros performs in Leipzig city centre. As market leader in Europe for land transport, we have to assume a pioneering role from this position alone.” 

One of the many findings gained during the practical tests in the first test phase is that the range of the eActros of approximately 200km has proven to be absolutely realistic – regardless of load, route or topography. The eActros is in no way inferior to a conventional truck in terms of availability and performance in urban traffic, on highways or on overland routes. The cooling system for the cargo and the air-conditioning system – both electrically operated – functioned without any limitations in both extreme heat and winter conditions. Drivers are very pleased with the continuous availability of torque across the entire speed range. They also particularly mentioned the truck‘s quietness in operation and the pleasant, smooth driving experience. In addition, electrical energy can be recovered through recuperation (motor braking), meaning it is rarely necessary to use the brake pedal. 

The W.BO swap body from Schmitz Cargobull for dry-goods transport is a smooth-wall box in steel construction with various equipment options such as double-decker system and roller door, and a keyhole system as standard equipment. 

The eActros is based on the chassis of the Mercedes-Benz Actros. In addition, however, the vehicle‘s architecture is completely geared to electric drive and has a high proportion of specific parts. Two electric motors close to the rear-axle wheel hubs provide drive with an output of 126kW each and a maximum torque of 485Nm each. This results in 11,000Nm each after the transmission ratio, providing a performance equivalent to that of a conventional truck. Lithium-ion batteries with 240kWh supply the energy for the eActros. Depending on the available charging power, the batteries can be fully charged within two hours (at 150kW). 

The development and testing of heavy-duty electric trucks in distribution transport is receiving support from Germany‘s Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, as part of the Concept ELV² project.