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DTNA Will Go Into Production With Electric Trucks Starting in 2021


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Roger Gilroy, Transport Topics  /  January 7, 2019

LAS VEGAS — Daimler Trucks North America announced it would begin production in 2021 of medium- and heavy-duty battery electric trucks that are now being developed in close cooperation with select North American customers.

DTNA is North America’s leading truck maker in Class 6-8 diesel-powered trucks, which face more stringent emissions for lowering truck emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2021, 2024 and 2027. In addition, in November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would issue a rule to further cut the emission of nitrogen oxide from diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks.

DTNA’s efforts to develop battery-electric trucks is occurring against that backdrop.

“This is not something we do here at Daimler Trucks North America ourselves. We are heavily involved in trying with all of these other development projects that we have at Daimler — in Japan and in Europe,” Andreas Juretzka, DTNA’s eMobility product lead, told the media at a ride-and-drive event here Jan. 6-7.

DTNA is bringing customers in “at a very early stage” and will share that within the global development process, he said.

Two fleets, Penske Truck Leasing and NFI Industries, will receive the first electric trucks.

Penske will receive 10 eCascadias and 10 eM2s for use in California and the Pacific Northwest, while 10 eCascadias will go to NFI for drayage activities from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in California’s Inland Empire.

At the event here preceding the annual Consumer Electronics Show, DTNA let reporters, for the first time, drive prototypes of its medium-duty eM2 and Class 8 eCascadia model.

Behind the wheel of the eCascadia, it is hard to tell just by ear if the truck is running. There is no shifting through gears as it accelerates smoothly and silently — it has two e-axles and electric motors at the wheel hubs. As the truck, pulling a fully loaded trailer, takes the turns and heads down the straightaway, there is the expected agility and power, but engine noise is missing. In the cab, driving is peaceful.

The eM2 offered a similar sense of a brand new experience for commercial vehicle drivers.

Meanwhile, questions about the trucks’ operational cost, environmental benefits, their range, the needed infrastructure, their reliability and what lies further in the future are under serious discussion, according to DTNA.

For example, leasing the truck batteries to fleets is being considered, Juretzka said.

DTNA has an electric vehicle customer council that includes 30 key fleet customers. Its next meeting is scheduled for May.

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