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More medium-duty electric trucks are coming to market

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When Mark Smith, program manager of technology integration with the Vehicle Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, spoke on the subject of fleet electrification at the recent Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference, part of his presentation covered the 21st Century Truck Partnership. The 21CTP, he noted, has been expanding its medium-duty electric commercial vehicle development initiatives.

The 21CTP program, which brings together four federal agencies (DOE, EPA, DOT, DOD) and 11 OEM and supplier partners, is focused on research and development into affordable, efficient, energy secure and sustainable vehicle technologies. The partnership is also a framework for a number of commercial truck research concepts.

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) took a major step in that direction recently when it unveiled two new Freightliner electric vehicle models, including a medium-duty eM2 106 truck with a 26,000-lb. GCWR. Designed for local distribution, pickup and delivery, food and beverage delivery and last-mile logistics applications, the eM2 produces up to 480 peak HP and its batteries provide a range of up to 230 miles. The truck also has the ability to charge its batteries up to 80% (providing a range of 184 miles) in about 60 minutes.

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Along with the eM2, the OEM also introduced a heavy-duty electrified Freightliner eCascadia model. Later this year, the OEM plans to deliver an Electric Innovation Fleet of 30 vehicles to customers for testing in specific applications, with the goal of starting production in 2021.

“The Freightliner eM2 is designed to meet customer needs for electrified commercial vehicles serving dedicated, predictable routes,” said Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of DTNA. “The innovative truck reflects DTNA’s commitment to bring practical, game-changing technology to market. The eM2 106 is also based on one of the most in-demand medium-duty truck designs, and is built on validated, series production trucks in extensive use by our customers every day.”

The eM2 and the eCascadia will eventually join other electric vehicle solutions from DTNA. Included are the more than 100 electric vehicles built by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. in 2012 that are still on the road today. Those vehicles were built with Electric Vehicles International (EVI) on the MT-55 walk-in van chassis. In addition, the Fuso eCanter, a fully electric Class 4 light-duty truck is offered in North America by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America. Also, beginning with limited production in 2019, the Thomas Built Buses vehicle line will include the Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Jouley, with a range of up to 100 miles.

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DTNA is also supporting the development of a commercial vehicle charging infrastructure for North America. Daimler AG, DTNA’s parent company, is a founding member of CharIN, the Charging Interface Initiative that is working to develop a standard charging system for battery-powered vehicles. DTNA is now heading a CharIN taskforce to develop a new global electric commercial vehicle charging standard, is collaborating with utilities and service providers to foster support for high-voltage charging networks, and is serving as a consultant for customers.

Fleet electrification efforts will also continue to be supported by 21CTP, Mark Smith told EUFMC attendees. The partnership, he explained, is focusing on several key research areas, including:

  • Engine powertrains to drive engine efficiency toward 60% while achieving near-zero emissions levels at half the current cost for medium-duty systems;
  • Electrified powertrains to meet commercial truck customer duty cycles at drastically reduced capital and operating costs by harnessing high-performance computing capabilities to analyze and design scalable, modular systems for high-volume production;
  • Freight operational efficiency to achieve secure, robust, connected and automated systems by applying deep learning and data analytics; and
  • Safety across freight and passenger transportation networks using the unique resources available in the partnership to discover and implement technologies.

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