A spotlight on electric trucks
With the government aiming to phase out the sale of new fossil fuel HGVs by 2035 – or possibly 2040 for certain vehicles and use cases, the race is on to decarbonise heavy goods vehicles. As such, battery electric trucks are now becoming available from a range of mainstream manufacturers
While battery electric vehicles hold strong potential for decarbonising heavy goods, there are many challenges that need to be overcome before they can be fully fit-for-purpose in the freight and logistics sector. Due to their size and weight, HGVs have shorter ranges than cars and small vans. What’s more, the charging infrastructure to date has mainly been focused on smaller vehicles, meaning electric lorries may find it hard to find places to charge on the public network.
With a limited amount of electric trucks on the market, together with the high cost of such vehicles, a fleet of electric trucks can be cost-prohibitive for fleet operators.
The government’s Transport Decarbonisation Strategy acknowledges the barriers, and says that the next decade will see “rapid progress and investment in zero emission technology options for larger heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), alongside deployment of supporting infrastructure and increasing demand from businesses.”
Indeed, we are already seeing much progress and innovation in this area, as explored in this article.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK, part of Daimler Truck, is GreenFleet’s current HGV Manufacturer of the Year, taking home the award for continuously expanding its portfolio of battery-electric trucks.
The Mercedes-Benz eActros comes with three or four lithium-ion batteries, each of which has a capacity of approximately 112 kWh. In rigid form, the 4x2 eActros 300 has a range of approximately 205 miles, while the 6x2 eActros will cover around 186 miles on a single charge. The eActros 400, which only comes as a 6x2 rigid, offers a 248 mile range. The eActros 300 is also now available as a 4x2 tractor unit with 136 mile range.
Meanwhile, the eActros LongHaul, which has a 600 kWh battery capacity and will cover around 310 miles on a single charge, will be tested by customers this year.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has also unveiled an electrically-powered, construction-specification Arocs prototype with mixer body that has been developed in collaboration with PAUL Group and Meiller.
Daimler Truck also manufactures the Fuso eCanter, which was the world’s first fully electric light-duty truck to enter series production. It is already on fleets at Bidfood, Speedy Services, DPD, Hovis and Wincanton.
The next generation FUSO eCanter meanwhile will be available in gross vehicle weight classes from 4.25-8.55 tonnes and will have ranges of up to 124 miles.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has also introduced an eConsulting service to support customers on their eMobility journey, and in the UK is partnering with EQUANS to identify their charging infrastructure needs and the related costs.
Meeting environmental standards
British electric vehicle manufacturer Tevva has secured European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval for its 7.5 tonne battery-electric truck. The approval process is used to ensure that all vehicles meet the stringent and relevant environmental, safety and security standards and means that Tevva can start producing and selling in volume across the UK and Europe.
Tevva’s 7.5t electric truck offers up to 140 miles from its 105 kWh battery on a single charge, and is ideal for last-mile and urban delivery fleets. It will be followed later in 2023 by a 7.5t hydrogen-electric truck, which benefits from a hydrogen range-extender that enhances vehicle range to up to 354 miles.
Customers including Expect Distribution, Travis Perkins and Royal Mail are expected to receive their electric Tevva trucks shortly.
Volta Trucks has also received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval for its 16-tonne all-electric Volta Zero vehicle, which has a range of 95-125 miles.
Series production of Volta Zeros are due to start rolling off the line of the company’s contract manufacturing facility in Steyr, Austria, in early Q2 2023.
In London, Volta Trucks is creating a ‘Volta Trucks Hub’, which will comprise a service and maintenance facility, showroom, admin offices, training academy and call centre.
The Hub is on White Hart Lane in Tottenham, and covers 30,000 sq feet, operating eight workshop bays. It has a photovoltaic panel system on its roof, converting sunlight into energy for the site, and a passive solar wall, optimising the heating and ventilation of the building. It is also designed with a charging infrastructure to support 50kW fast charging of Volta Zero vehicles while they are being maintained.
The Volta Trucks Hub in London is part of a wider representation strategy that will see a vehicle service offering across all launch locations of Paris, London, Madrid, Milan, the Rhine-Ruhr region of Germany, and the Randstad region of the Netherlands. The network of Hubs will be a critical enabler of the company’s ‘Truck as a Service’ offer, that sets out to revolutionise the finance and servicing of commercial vehicle fleets.
Truck as a Service will accelerate the adoption of electric commercial vehicles by delivering a hassle and risk-free way to electrify fleets. Truck as a Service supports every step of the electrification migration by offering a single, affordable, monthly fee that funds the use of a full-electric Volta Zero vehicle, and all of its servicing, maintenance, insurance and training requirements, maximising the uptime and operational efficiency of the vehicle.
Since 2020, Renault Trucks has been producing a range of all-electric vehicles from 3.1 to 26 tonnes.
From the beginning of 2023, Renault Trucks will start the commercialisation of two new models of up to 44 tonnes in its range: the Renault Trucks T E-Tech for regional transport and the Renault Trucks C E-Tech for construction.
These new models in Renault Trucks’ heavy-duty range will be fitted with two or three electric motors providing a combined power of up to 490 kW (equivalent to 666 hp).
The Renault Trucks T and C E-Tech will have two to six lithium-ion battery packs with a capacity of 180 to 540 kWh. The vehicles’ batteries can be fully charged in 9.5 hours by alternating current (AC) up to 43 kW, or in 2.5 hours by direct current (DC) up to 250 kW. These trucks will be able to travel up to 186 miles on a single charge.
Meanwhile, Renault Trucks’ E-Tech D Wide 26-tonne is being used as a refuse collection vehicle (eRCV) by municipal vehicle hire company, CTS Hire. This is allowing councils and vehicle operators to access eRCV technology on short-term hire for the first time.
Supplied by RH Commercial Vehicles, the two Renault Trucks E-Tech D Wide electric rear-steer chassis have been paired with Dennis Eagle OL21 bodies and Terberg Xtra bin lifts.
Powered by 4x 66kW lithium batteries located in the wheelbase, the E-Tech D Wides with zero tailpipe emissions qualify to operate in urban areas with restrictions to improve air quality such as Low Emission Zones (LEZ), and Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).
Each truck is equipped with a 22kW on board AC charger and is compatible with DC fast charging up to 150kW. In fast charge (DC), the vehicles can reach a full battery in less than two hours, or overnight on a conventional industrial outlet and adapts to all situations.
Scania has announced it has made advancements in its battery electric trucks, by installing 624 kWh packs and re-working the heating and cooling system to maintain the powertrain and battery pack’s optimum operating temperature.
A Scania 4x2 tractor with six batteries will be able to do 217 miles between charges, travelling at an average speed of 50mph.
The charging capability has also been increased up to 375 kW, which means that after an hour of charging it can add up to 186 miles of range.
The continuous power output level for the Scania 45 R and S is 410 kW, approximately 560hp. While the new triple electric machine powertrain provides ample electro-mechanical power take-off to support power hungry applications.
This, says Scania, will mean customers will be able to use these new battery electric vehicles for temperature controlled and bulk transportation.
The 4x2 tractor’s axle distance has been increased to 4,150 mm when specified with six batteries, allowing it to benefit from the Increased Vehicle Dimension regulation in Europe. Gross train weight for the tractor unit is up to 64 tonnes.
Scania’s new fully electric trucks are available for order now, with production commencing in Q4 2023.
Charging on long journeys
To address charging during long haul, European journeys, an electric truck “charging corridor” has been built along a 372 mile stretch of the Rhine-Alpine corridor across Germany.
Built by bp pulse, the six public charging locations have ultra-fast 300kw charge points aimed at electric trucks. They have been built on one of the busiest road freight routes in Europe, connecting key North Sea ports in Belgium and the Netherlands with the Mediterranean port of Genoa in Italy.
The new chargers have been installed on Aral retail sites in Germany between the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan area and the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region. Aral is bp’s German retail brand. In the next six months, two additional locations are scheduled to open on Aral retail sites to complete the new charging corridor.
Once complete, using the Aral pulse charging corridor, an E-Truck will be able to cover over 372 miles across Germany along one of European’s major road transport routes.
The 300kw charging stations are each capable of charging more than 20 E-Trucks, per charger each day. An E-Truck’s range can reach up to 124 miles in around 45-minutes using the ultra-fast charge points.
Nigel Head, EV truck director for Europe, at bp pulse, said: “By beginning the roll-out of a dedicated charging network for freight operators and fleets, with a focus on major logistics corridors, bp is supporting the electrification of medium and heavy-duty vehicles, decarbonising the movement of goods, as well as people.
“Ultra-fast charging in the right locations, combined with depot and destination charging, is critical infrastructure to accelerate the electrification transition, unlocking the economic and environmental benefits of low-carbon commercial road freight and transport.”
Trialling electric trucks
In June 2021, DAF was awarded funding from Innovate UK to commence deployment of 20 electric trucks in public sector fleets across the Northwest of England to understand the barriers to adoption.
Known as the Battery Electric Truck Trial (BETT), the trucks on trial are 19-tonne DAF Electric LFs, which has a range of up to 175 miles and can be rapid charged at 150 kW.
The trucks are being trialled across different types of public sector operations, from logistics to waste management, including NHS Supply Chain and Blackpool Council. The trial vehicles include different types of ancillary systems that will operate from the battery. This includes tail-lifts and refrigeration units.
The DAF Electric truck will also be taking part in GreenFleet’s EV Rally this year, to test its long-haul capabilities and further add to the learnings from the BETT trial.