Freightliner talks electric walk-in van details, last-mile market roll out

Freightliner Custom Chassis talks electric walk-in van details, last-mile market roll out

What makes the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) battery electric walk-in MT50e van launch interesting is that it’s a next generation EV that can leverage the lessons learned by its beefier Freightliner eM2 and eCascadia brethren. Not only that, but Mike Stark, electric vehicle program manager, FCCC, noted that the truck chassis manufacturer works with many of the same customers that employ the medium- and heavy-duty Freightliner trucks.

“At the start of DTNA’s electric powertrain development path, the initial formation of the eMobility Group included individuals from all corporate brands like Thomas Built Buses and FCCC, which help to collectively align strategies and understand the best technology for the various vocations in which the trucks and buses will operate,” Stark said. “This collaboration helps everyone to provide information as to duty cycles, applications, etc. when designing the electric mobility ecosystem. In addition, we standardized our charging strategy configuration to include DC charging.”

We peppered Stark with a handful of other questions about the MT50e’s launch. Before we get to that, here’s a quick refresher on the MT50e’s specs:

  • Range of 170 miles on a single charge and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 19,000 pounds.
  • Engine power of up to 226 kWh (303 HP).
  • A full battery charge in three hour.
  • A single-piece steel frame to maximize heavy-duty load capacity.
  • Designed and built to the same body dimensions as the gas and diesel MT, which allows existing bodies to be utilized with little change and easy integration into existing fleets.
  • Fifty-state EPA and CARB certified

Onto the questions!

Fleet Equipment (FE): The last-mile delivery application these trucks service seems like a natural for electrification—what are the customer apprehensions you need to overcome to get these into the market?

Stark: The questions, apprehensions and concerns we encountered from customers were very similar to the ones we’ve all heard regarding electric: operating range, battery life, battery replacement costs, charging infrastructure, and real cost of ownership. Thanks to our partnership with DTNA and the shared expertise and experience across the full DTNA electric portfolio, we have a great message and detailed answers to each of those apprehensions.

FE: What other medium-duty applications would these chassis be suited for?

Stark: We see the MT50e generating interest across a wide range of medium-duty and last-mile applications, including linen, bakery, utility and municipality.

FE: What training and/or collaboration goes into the body builder network as you start to deliver these chassis? Any special needs with electrified powertrains that bodybuilders need to take into account?

Stark: The design of the MT50e chassis was intended to have minimal impact on the body builder. The mechanical body-mounting strategy remains the same, with FCCC providing the body-mounting structures with the exception of floor inspection panels that may need to be provided for easier access to the e-Axle and other electrical components.

With the introduction of our OptiView and safety systems, the dash area cameras need to be installed. Our extensive partnership with body builders helps to ensure systems are operating as intended. The completion of the builds of our engineering test fleet and customer demonstration trucks has further validated and helped both FCCC and the bodybuilders to overcome any issues with the integration of the body to the chassis to be ready for production.

FE: The original announcement referenced DriveTech, what is that?

Stark: Initially developed for the RV market, DriveTech is poised to become the most advanced display and control system in the walk-in van industry. It’s the first walk-in van driving system to prioritize safety by putting every command in one easy-to-reach location, with all-new ergonomic steering wheel and column-mounted controls paired with OptiView’s all-digital gauge display to create a more automotive-like feel. Put it all together, and it will set the industry standard for driver comfort and safety.

You May Also Like

REE unveils new design of electric truck platform

The new P7-S uses P7 REEcorners, making it a full by-wire chassis, and is designed to allow design flexibility for fleets and body builders.


REE Automotive Ltd. revealed the next generation of its P7-S stripped chassis at ACT Expo in Las Vegas. The company says the Class 5 chassis was created in collaboration with a leading delivery fleet (which they did not name), and was designed to increase delivery efficiencies and improve fleet management. Customer delivery of the first next-gen P7-S demo will take place in June.

Penske Truck Leasing to offer REE Automotive’s P7-C electric trucks

REE’e electric trucks were developed in partnership with Wabash to be upfit ready.

Merchants Fleet hires new regional sales manager

Merchants Fleet is expanding its truck and van rental division to help North American clients who struggling with supply chain complexities.

Akebono releases 14 new severe-duty brake pads

The new kits are for vehicles from Ford, Ram, Chrysler, GMC and Nissan, which expands Akebono’s coverage by roughly 11 million vehicles.

Isuzu announces new battery EV medium-duty truck with Accelera powertrain

The companies are planning availability of the new Class 6/7 truck in 2026.


Other Posts

Daimler Buses, BMZ Poland drive zero-emission EU bus transport

BMZ Poland expects the next generation NMC4 battery to combine high energy density with an ultra-long cycle life.

BAE Systems, Eaton test electric commercial truck drive technology

Testing occurred at Eaton’s proving grounds in Marshall, Mich., on a Class 7 demonstration vehicle.

PepsiCo picks Tesla, Ford for California EV fleet

PBNA ordered 50 Class 8 Tesla Semi trucks, 75 Ford E-Transit electric vans to more than triple size of its EV fleet.

What it takes to service battery electric trucks

Investing in battery-electric trucks and infrastructure are just the beginning of electrifying your fleet, Volvo has experience taking shops through the rest of the EV journey.