At the “Driving Experience” in Wörth am Rhein, Mercedes-Benz Trucks gives international journalists the opportunity to drive the heavy-duty eActros battery-powered distribution truck and the long-haul flagship Actros L up close. Both trucks are extremely high-tech and include numerous innovations, but while their drive systems differ, they both offer transportation companies the ability to efficiently master their everyday tasks, while at the same time providing drivers with safe, comfortable and dynamic trucks. Following the “Driving Experience”, the manufacturer is organizing a customer event lasting several weeks for a total of some 1,000 participants from all over Europe on central aspects of e-mobility such as infrastructure, services and e-trucks.
Karin Rådström, CEO Mercedes-Benz Trucks, stated at the event: “The tremendous interest in our eActros driving event in Wörth is further proof of the popularity e-mobility is already gaining with customers. Customers are thus sending a strong signal to all stakeholders to combine efforts and quickly put more and more electric trucks on the road, expand the charging infrastructure and create cost parity.”
Impressive driving experience with the eActros
Get in, buckle up, press start and drive off – it’s that simple with the battery-electric Mercedes-Benz eActros. Better still, all you’ll hear is the low hum of the compressor, the rolling noise of the tyres, and the wind noise as you accelerate away. First impressions count, and this initial near-silent experience gives you an idea of the fascination with the battery-powered series-production truck that Mercedes-Benz Trucks has specifically designed for heavy-duty distribution haulage. Whether on trunk routes, on country roads with their varying topography, or through towns and cities, relaxed driving is immediately evident, the driver hardly feels any interruptions in gear shifting or traction. The electric motors provide exactly the same high torque throughout the entire rpm range, and the powerful acceleration is noticeable in every traffic situation. Even under full load, the noise level in the cab remains at a comparatively low level.
At any time during the journey, it is possible to not only see how frugal the eActros is, but also improve its use of energy with the help of intelligent recuperation. This is because the electric motor converts kinetic energy into electrical energy during every braking manoeuvre – or by actively actuating the pitman arm during the coasting phase. Energy generated in this way is fed back into the batteries of the eActros, thus contributing to an increase in vehicle range. Another positive side effect of regenerative braking is that less stress is placed on the brakes of the eActros. Depending on the situation, the driver can choose between five different levels of recuperation. A one-pedal driving function can also be activated on the touchscreen in the digital cockpit as desired – i.e. deceleration via recuperation without actuating the mechanical brake, meaning the driver can fully focus on traffic, not the technology. The interactive multimedia cockpit installed as standard in the eActros provides continuous information on the state of charge, the remaining range, and the current and average energy consumption in kWh per 100 kilometers.
On the subject of energy: eActros comprise either three (eActros 300) or four battery packs (eActros 400), each of which offers an installed capacity of 112 kWh and a usable capacity of around 97 kWh. With four battery packs, the eActros 400 has a range of up to 400 kilometers. The technological core is the drive unit – an electric rigid axle with two integrated electric motors and a two-speed transmission. Both liquid-cooled motors generate a continuous output of 330 kW as well as a top performance of 400 kW. The eActros can be charged at up to 160 kWh: three battery packs require just over an hour to charge from 20 to 80 percent at a standard DC fast charging station with 400 A charging current.
Smart digital solutions for even more efficient use
In order to get the most out of the eActros, to save operators time and effort, and make the switch to e-mobility as smooth as possible, Mercedes-Benz Trucks provides its customers with a whole range of digital solutions on the Fleetboard Portal. This includes, for example, individually customised charge management. It provides full transparency of the charging process for a customer’s infrastructure assets and enables costs to be managed by displaying transaction histories. In addition, charging processes can be better planned to maximise the utilisation of charging stations, and charging processes can be started and stopped from anywhere thanks to Charge Management.
The mapping tool is another digital solution, which enables back office employees in transportation companies to react quickly to the current vehicle status wherever necessary. This is because the tool can show in real time where a vehicle is currently located, whether it is moving, stationary or charging, how high the state of charge of the battery is, and what range is still available. In addition, a logbook with detailed information on driving, stationary, and charging times, total weight, covered mileage, routes, topography, temperature as well as increases and decreases in the state of charge of the battery represents another tool. This enables fleet managers to subsequently track each individual eActros in the business so that use can be optimised when discussing the situation with drivers or dispatchers. This means that their electric vehicles can be integrated into everyday routines in the best possible way.
The Mercedes-Benz Complete service contract is also available for the eActros to ensure optimum vehicle deployment. The comprehensive service package covers workshop stopovers for maintenance and repair of the overall vehicle as well as the driveline, including wear parts. The service contract always covers intensive customer support provided by Mercedes-Benz Uptime. The intelligent system records all relevant vehicle data, from tyre pressures and the motor status to battery status. In this context, Mercedes-Benz Uptime has already been expanded by more than 100 e-specific regulators that continuously monitor charging processes or voltage curves related to the high-voltage battery, for example. The information is also available on the new cloud-based customer portal. By networking all the vehicles, Mercedes-Benz Service and transportation companies simplify the process of planning workshop visits.
Expert advice for a tailored e-mobility
Irrespective of the drive technology, every investment in a commercial vehicle needs to pay off in the everyday activities of transportation companies. In addition, a whole series of questions must be clarified in advance, especially with regard to fully electric trucks: On which routes can I use electric vehicles? How developed is the charging infrastructure? Which structural measures and investments are needed for depot charging? This makes it all the more important not just to sell customers an electric truck, but also to accompany them on their journey to fleet electrification. After all, e-mobility is more than just a new kind of drive. This is precisely why Mercedes-Benz Trucks has integrated the eActros into a business ecosystem that also includes consultancy services for high vehicle usage and optimisation of the total costs of ownership.
For example, our eConsulting teams use existing driving routes to determine usage profiles for electric trucks that are as realistic and meaningful as possible for a particular customer. Depending on the customer’s demands and in addition to the electrification of the depot, eConsulting also includes all questions related to planning, ordering, and implementation concerning the charging infrastructure as well as the grid connection. Mercedes-Benz Trucks has concluded a strategic partnerships specifically for this purpose with Siemens Smart Infrastructure and ENGIE. Mercedes-Benz Trucks can also provide assistance with sourcing possible public funding for infrastructure and vehicles.
At the “Driving Experience” event, Mercedes-Benz Trucks dedicated itself to answering questions about both the charging infrastructure as well as the actual charging process in a specially built charging depot. For example, how long does it take to set up the necessary charging infrastructure and what costs can be expected? What is the charging standard for the CCS Combined Charging System, and which chargers are recommended? How does the vehicle communicate with the charge port? The event also explained in detail whether fast or slow charging is better and what the difference is between cooled and uncooled charging cables.