Daimler to launch e-trucks in South Africa!

Daimler to launch e-trucks in South Africa!

On 21 May, Daimler Truck Southern Africa will launch its e-mobility offering for Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks. CHARLEEN CLARKE has already driven the company’s electric trucks; she says South African truck operators are in for a treat.

We don’t know exactly which trucks will be launched or whether they will be sold or leased; the details are a closely guarded secret. However, I’m guessing that two trucks will feature in the new e-mobility product offering: the eActros and the electric Fuso Canter.

Both are exceptional vehicles. I have driven the eActros on a number of occasions, and I reckon truck drivers are going to love it (operators too). The all-electric eActros 300 and 400 are aimed at local CO2-neutral heavy-duty urban distribution transport applications where a range of 300 or 400km is acceptable. (The eActros 300 has a range of 300km while the eActros 400 has … yup, you guessed it… a range of 400km.)

The eActros’ batteries can consist of either three (eActros 300) or four (eActros 400) battery packs, each of which has an installed capacity of 112kWh and a usable capacity of around 97kWh.

The technological heart of the electric truck is its drive unit, comprising a rigid electric axle with two integrated electric motors and a two-speed transmission. The two liquid-cooled motors deliver a continuous output of 330kW and a peak output of 400kW. At a conventional DC fast charging station with a charging current of 400A, the three battery packs take a little more than one hour to charge from 20% of capacity to 80%.

In addition, as is typically the case with electric vehicles, electrical energy can be recovered by using recuperation (the electric Canter has the same feature): energy recovered during braking is fed back into the eActros’ batteries to be made available for powering the vehicle.

There’s also the eActros 600, which has a range of 500km. Assuming an operator uses megawatt charging, the eActros 600 charges its long-lasting lithium-iron phosphate batteries from 20% to 80% in around 30 minutes. Given its range, it is intended for long-haul usage.

We could also see Daimler Truck introducing the Fuso eCanter, which has been put through its paces by customers outside South Africa under real everyday conditions since 2017. I’ve driven this truly terrific truck many times, most notably in and around the Portuguese village of Tramagal, where it is built.

The eCanter is a nippy and manoeuvrable city truck, which fits into underground car parks. Its electric drive is obviously ideal in busy cities, while its compact footprint coupled with an excellent turning circle make it perfect for inner-city deliveries.

The eCanter that I drove in Portugal had a gross vehicle weight of 7.49 tonnes and – depending on the body and area of application – a load capacity of up to 4.5 tonnes (my test unit was unloaded, so we cannot comment on how it operates at load). The vehicle’s electric drive system comprises six high-voltage lithium-ion batteries with 420V and 13.8kWh respectively. With a permanent-magnet motor, it delivers 135kW/390Nm to the rear axle. Acceleration is fast and ultra-smooth; it’s no different to a passenger car in this regard.

One battery charge facilitates a range of around 100km, which was more than adequate on our short test drive. We didn’t need to recharge, but with quick-charging stations, full recharge takes approximately 1.5 hours.

Will the eActros or eCanter come to South Africa? We’re looking forward to getting the answer to this question on 21 May.

Published by

Charleen Clarke

CHARLEEN CLARKE is editorial director of FOCUS. While she is based in Johannesburg, she spends a considerable amount of time overseas, attending international transport events – largely in her capacity as associate member of the International Truck of the Year Jury.
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