Business In Gear

Daimler to produce electric commercial trucks in Europe

These trucks will be made available to a small number of European test customers for year-long trials, with deliveries slated to begin later this year.

Truck and automobile traffic mix on Interstate 5, headed north through Fife, Wash., near the Port of Tacoma.
Ted S. Warren/AP/File
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Following successful trials, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler plans to produce a small run of all-electric large commercial trucks for the European market.

These trucks will be made available to a small number of European test customers for 12-month trials, with the deliveries slated to begin later this year.

The decision to go forward with a production vehicle was based on positive reactions to the Mercedes-Benz Urban e-Truck concept unveiled at last fall's 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles trade show.

While Daimler's press release referred to the upcoming production all-electric model as a "heavy-duty" truck, the Urban e-Truck was a slightly less large medium-duty model.

It featured a 212-kilowatt-hour battery pack, allowing for a claimed range of 124 miles.

The tractor was powered by electric motors mounted to the front and rearmost of its three axles, producing a combined 250 kW (335 hp) and 737 lb-ft of torque.

The production truck will be sold under the Mercedes-Benz brand name, and operators will get support from the automaker's road-testing department during the trial period.

Customers will have the option of a box body, refrigerated box body, or flatbed for the latest electric truck.

The Urban e-Truck was a medium-duty vehicle intended primarily for shuttling cargo relatively short distances around cities, and it's likely the low-volume production model will be aimed at similar duties.

Short-range operations keep vehicles close to charging stations, circumventing the range issues that currently bedevil efforts at electric long-haul trucks.

Daimler is currently in talks with "around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs, and logistics sector," Mercedes-Benz Trucks boss Stefan Buchner said in a company press release.

Deliveries will start in Germany, followed by other European countries.

Daimler has no apparent plans to offer the electric truck in the U.S., but it's possible that a different electric vehicle could arrive in North America soon.

Alongside the Mercedes truck, Daimler is planning a low-volume production run of the lighter-duty eCanter truck from its Fuso brand this year.

The Fuso eCanter has already been supplied to specific customers for trial programs, but Daimler hopes to make the model more widely available.

This latest initiative will see around 150 vehicles distributed to select customers in the U.S., as well as Europe and Japan, the company said.

This story originally appeared on GreenCarReports.

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