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Daimler Trucks experiment with integrating battery-electric trucks in large-scale fleet operations

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Dive Brief:

  • Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) launched its Freightliner Customer Experience (CX) Fleet for its electric truck program. The fleet of all-electric trucks includes six heavy-duty Freightliner eCascadias and two medium-duty eM2-106 trucks.
  • The Freightliner CX fleet is part of DTNA’s ongoing co-creation initiative that engages customers in the development process by deploying commercial battery-electric trucks in real-world applications. At least 14 customers who collectively represent more than 150,000 of all Class 6-8 trucks on the road in the U.S. will help test the Freightliner CX Fleet, according to a March 3 news release.
  • DTNA said its CX Fleet adds to the 30-vehicle Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet, which started operation in late 2018 to provide feedback and data on the integration of battery-electric trucks in large-scale fleet operations. The Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet recently hit a milestone, surpassing 100,000 cumulative miles of operation, according to DTNA.

Dive Insight:

Roger Nielsen, DTNA CEO, said he is serious about providing battery-electric Class 6-8 trucks, which he said will one day replace diesel-powered trucks.

Last April, speaking at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, California, Nielsen declared DTNA was on the side of battery-electric trucks, eschewing hydrogen fuel cells, which create electric power and have zero emissions.

"The road to emissions-free transportation is going to be driven with battery-electric vehicles, " Nielsen said on April 24. "I believe the future is electric."

The problem is working out the kinks. As the industry found out with hybrid diesel-electric trucks, unforeseen mechanical consequences can pop up. Many fleet owners prefer to test the vehicles out before making a large purchase.

Almost a year after Nielsen's proclamation, Richard Howard, the DTNA senior vice president of on-highway sales and marketing, said the testing done by real fleets will add continuous feedback that contributes to ongoing design and innovation of the trucks.

The news follows Nikola Corp.'s recent reverse merger with VectoIQ, a publicly traded acquisition company. The two agreed to create a company focused on the development of zero-emission trucks. The new company will be known as Nikola Corp. and is expected to remain NASDAQ-listed under the new ticker symbol "NKLA." Nikola said it will accelerate production of battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles in the Class 8 truck market and sell to fleets eager to produce zero emissions as they transport goods.

DTNA's Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, joining the all-electric Saf-T-Liner eC2 Jouley school bus, the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.'s MT50e and the FUSO eCanter in North America.

Source: utilitydive

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