Mercedes Unveils Longhaul Electric Truck

eActros 600 Will Take on Tesla Semi
Mercedes eActros 600
The eActros 600 is set to go on sale by the end of the year. (Daimler Truck)

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks revealed a heavy-duty electric truck to take on Tesla Inc.’s battery-powered Semi, the latest move in the intensifying race to decarbonize road logistics.

The eActros 600, which can travel 311 miles on a single charge while hauling up to 22 tons in cargo, is set to go on sale toward the end of this year, the unit of Daimler Truck Holding AG said Oct. 10. It’s aimed at taking on Tesla’s truck, which has already scored orders from Walmart Inc. and UPS Inc.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. Walmart ranks No. 2 on the TT 100 list of the largest private carriers.

The vehicle’s battery can recharge from 20% to 80%, a threshold considered the best for maintaining battery life, in 30 minutes provided the customer has access to a one megawatt charging device, the company said, equivalent to the electricity needed to power around 1,000 homes.

Electrifying heavy-duty vehicles is one of the biggest hurdles to making road transport green. The lack of charging infrastructure remains a key barrier to adoption, even though around 60% of freight routes in Europe are shorter than the 500-kilometer range of the eActros 600.

Tesla Semi

Tesla Semis. Tesla delivered 15 trucks to PepsiCo Inc. late last year. (Benjamin Fanjoy/Bloomberg News) 

High prices are another drawback with the eActros 600, costing roughly double that of its diesel comparator, according to Mercedes-Benz Trucks CEO Karin Rådström, though it’s less expensive to operate than a conventional truck.

Rådström, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg Television, said building out charging networks is an urgent next step to ensure shipping and logistics firms using electric trucks will be able to do the job.

“It’s the most challenging part of the equation” for customers, Rådström said. Hydrogen-powered trucks will also be part of decarbonizing trucking, she said.

With emissions regulations tightening, the region’s biggest truck makers are working together to build the charging network. The European Commission last year approved a joint venture between Volvo, Daimler Truck and Traton that plans to invest $527 million to set up 1,700 charging points across Europe in the coming years.

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