Features & Interviews

Electric trucks: in it for the longer haul

23 June 2022 #Features & Interviews

In recent years, manufacturers have provided a growing number of smaller and lighter battery-electric trucks for transport firms to use on their urban delivery operations.

But this ongoing innovation is now resulting in electric trucks for middle distance and even long-haul uses arriving on the market, able to meet the various needs of operators across the logistics sector looking to further reduce their carbon emissions.

For example, Amazon recently added five fully electric DAF CF Electric tractor units to its UK middle mile delivery fleet, replacing diesel vehicles. The 37-tonne gross combination weight vehicles are the first electric middle mile trucks the firm has operated in Europe.

According to Amazon, its investment will result in up to 100,000 annual road miles fuelled with renewable electricity, preventing about 170 tonnes of CO2 being emitted.

DAF says the CF Electric truck represents an important step towards zero emission middle mile distribution and it can clock up more than 300 miles per day.

The CF Electric is available as a 4×2 tractor unit and 6×2 rigid truck with steered trailing axle.

Its 210 kW electric motor draws power from a 350 kWh battery pack and full charging takes about 75 minutes using a charging station with a capacity of 250 kW.

John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager, said: “Amazon is one of the first companies in the world to put electric heavy goods trucks on the road.

“We’re committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2040, and this is a milestone as we continue to decarbonize our transportation network so we can deliver more customer orders using zero emissions vehicles.”

Volvo Trucks recently received an order for 125 FM electric trucks from shipping and logistics company DFDS, which have a range of 310 miles during a work day.

Delivery of the vehicles is planned to start in the fourth quarter of 2022 and they will be used for transport operations around Europe.

The FM Electric has a gross combination weight of up to 44 tons and can be charged both overnight at a depot and via high power fast charging on route.

Roger Alm, President at Volvo Trucks, said: “This is a major milestone in our commitment to fossil-free transportation and I am very proud of the partnership we have with DFDS.

“Together we are showing the world that electrified heavy truck transport is a viable solution already today. I believe this will encourage many more customers to confidently take the first step in their own electrification journey.”

Other longer distance electric trucks Volvo produces include the FH as well as the VNR Electric, which is sold in North America.

The VNR has an operating range of above 270 miles and energy storage of up to 565kWh. The truck can be 80% charged in 90 minutes with the six-battery package and 60 minutes with the four-battery version.

Earlier this year logistics company Maersk ordered 110 of them.

Also, Scania has announced details of the 45 R and 45 S, its zero-tailpipe-emission regional haul trucks.

The battery-powered 4×2 tractors and 6×2 rigids will not go into production until the fourth quarter of 2023 but are available to order now.

These vehicles will feature 624kWh battery packs, assembled by Scania in-house, providing a continuous power output level 410kW, or about 560hp.

Charging capability will up to 375kW and customers will be able to operate rigids or tractor-and-trailer combinations including temperature-controlled.

Ranges vary with weight, configuration and topography, but a 4×2 tractor with six batteries can expect up to 220 miles between each charge, with an average speed of 50 mph on motorways.

“This introduction represents a major milestone for us and for our partners,” said Christian Levin, CEO at Scania.

“We are now increasing our range and offering new opportunities to cater for a wider selection of customers and the whole transport ecosystem. These trucks are part of the solution that the transport industry is asking for.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is looking to introduce its eActros LongHaul, with a range of over 300 miles on one battery charge, for series production in 2024.

The first prototypes of the 40-tonne truck are already undergoing internal tests and engineers are planning to start trials of the e-truck on public roads this year.

Daimler Truck, Volvo Group and Traton Group, which includes Scania and MAN, have signed a binding agreement to establish a joint venture for the development and operation of a public charging network for battery-electric heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches in Europe.

Alongside the development of the eActros LongHaul, two high-performance charging points with the Megawatt Charging System are to be installed at four locations in Germany and tested in real-world applications.

MAN Truck & Bus has announced that production of its heavy-duty e-trucks in Munich is scheduled to begin in early 2024.

The manufacturer has already rolled out 20 prototypes of the eTruck, which will be suitable for heavy-duty long-distance transport with daily ranges between 370 to 500 miles.

MAN added that by the end of 2023 all relevant professionals in truck production in Munich will be qualified for series production of electric trucks.

Alexander Vlaskamp, Chairman of the Executive Board at MAN Truck & Bus, said: “MAN is accelerating its transformation and taking big steps towards emission-free drive systems. Our focus at MAN and in the Traton Group is clearly on battery-electric drives.

“They form the basis for our heavy-duty e-trucks, which we will be launching on the market from 2024.”

Maxus, which is owned by China-based SAIC, is also due to launch an all-electric tractor unit in the UK by 2024, with a driving range of up to 350 miles.

Harris Group, UK distributor for Maxus, says the 4×2 tractor unit development vehicle will undergo trials in the UK next year before production vehicle deliveries begin in the third quarter of 2024.

As a result, operators are now increasingly able to access zero emission mobility for a wider range of operations – however, maintaining growth and flexibility will also require infrastructure to keep up, to ensure ongoing emissions reductions.


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