Mercedes-Benz Trucks undergoes winter testing of electric trucks in Finland

In Mercedes-Benz, News6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 17, 2023

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has undergone its winter testing of its electric trucks in Rovaniemi, Finland.

The endurance tests included vehicles from various model series – including prototypes of the battery-electric eActros LongHaul, with series readiness planned for 2024, and the battery-electric eActros 300 as a tractor unit as well as the conventionally powered Actros L with diesel engine.

Under extreme climatic conditions, such as on snowy and icy roadways, harsh winds and temperatures down to minus 25 degrees, the development and test team tested the individual models in order to derive possible measures for further optimisation.

“Testing our product range under extreme winter conditions is also an essential part of our vehicle development in terms of alternative drives,” said Dr. Christof Weber, head of global testing at Mercedes-Benz Trucks.

“Haulage companies must be able to rely on our electric trucks in a highly competitive environment at any time of year, just as they are used to from conventionally powered vehicles,” he said.

“For this reason, our test engineers in Finland put the vehicles through their paces for six weeks.”

Comprehensive catalogue of criteria

Mercedes-Benz Trucks development engineers took a close look at all the functions and systems of the vehicles in practical use on the trip to Finland. For example, support when changing lanes as part of the Active Sideguard Assist or active lane guidance with Active Drive Assist in the Actros L.

Since several national borders had to be crossed, it was also possible to measure the impact of country-specific lane markings, traffic signs or digital map data on the performance of the assistance systems installed in the trucks. The trucks were tested all day long,  aspects such as the comfort of the driver’s seat to be evaluated.

Focus on battery-electric trucks during tests on the Arctic Circle

In the case of the eActros LongHaul and the eActros 300 Tractor, experts paid particular attention to the battery properties and the electric drivetrain on site in adverse weather conditions. For this purpose, elements including starting properties and drive components’ protection from low temperatures, software and interfaces were tested. In addition, thermal and energy management systems were subjected to intensive testing. Both ensure that both the drivetrain and the driver’s cab are temperature-controlled correctly and energy-efficiently, even at low temperatures.

This showed, for example, that the eActros LongHaul generally heats the cab faster than a diesel truck thanks to its smaller heating circuit with high output. However, since the energy for this is taken from the batteries installed in the vehicle and therefore the range is reduced, so-called pre-conditioning of the electric truck at a charging station is advisable. After pre-conditioning, the eActros LongHaul loses less range even in extremely low temperatures.

“We are very satisfied with our test results,” said Weber.

“The tests of the batteries and electric drivetrain properties at extreme temperatures or of the vehicle’s driving properties on slick, icy roads show, even in very wintry conditions, our battery-powered trucks are fully operational.”

The winter test also included numerous tests on driving and braking properties on surfaces with different levels of grip as well as the impact of slush, for example, on the effectiveness of the sensors of driver assistance systems. Also tested was how the Trailer Stability Assistant can reduce the risk of tractor-trailers skidding during cornering or evasive manoeuvres on winter roads and how the MirrorCam handles different contrast conditions on ice and snow.

Series production

The eActros 300 model variant as a tractor unit, introduced for the first time at IAA Transportation 2022 in Hanover, can pull all common European semi trailers, taking into account the maximum permissible overall vehicle combination length. The electric truck is based on the same technology as the eActros 300/400. Three battery packs, each with 112 kWh of installed battery capacity, enable a range of up to 220 kilometers] on a single battery charge. Series production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2023.

In 2024, the eActros LongHaul is scheduled to be ready for series production for long-distance transport. Mercedes-Benz Trucks unveiled a concept prototype of the electric truck at IAA Transportation in Hanover last year. The series-production eActros LongHaul boasts a range of around 500 kilometers on a single battery charge and will enable high-performance charging. At IAA, it was awarded the “2023 Truck Innovation Award” by the “International Truck of the Year”jury.

Batteries with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cell technology are used in the eActros LongHaul. These are characterised by a long service life and more usable energy.