by Bennett Oghifo
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has stated that it is continuing with practical trials of the battery-powered Mercedes-Benz eActros.
For the first time a Belgian logistics company, Van Mieghem Logistics, has started operating the all-electric eActros. The family-owned company, which specialises in both international transport and national distribution services, is testing the eActros on daily distribution journeys of up to 200 km in the vicinity of the company’s headquarters in Saintes, Belgium, according to a statement by the automaker.
The Mercedes-Benz eActros will be initially used for delivering pharmaceutical goods to hospitals and nursing homes. Additional tasks are planned to follow soon. The 25-ton truck with a range of around 200 kilometres is equipped with a Schmitz Cargobull refrigerated swap body, which is also electrically operated and therefore emission-free. The batteries of the truck are charged overnight at the company’s warehouse.
The CEO at Mercedes-Benz Trucks Belgium and Luxembourg, Peter Brock, said: “The eActros has seen intensive customer tests in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands since 2018. We are proud to now have the first all-electric eActros in Belgium to be tested with Van Mieghem Logistics, an esteemed logistics company in the country.”
Laurent Van Mieghem, member of the management at Van Mieghem Logistics said: “The protection of natural resources is an integral element of our corporate activities. That’s why we already invested in solar panels on top of our new warehouse and are also investigating the installation of wind turbines on our company premises, which would be ideal for harvesting our own energy to power electric trucks and logistics warehouses in future. Our interest in CNG or LNG powered trucks has always been very moderate, as they still use fossil fuels. An all-electric truck however has always been on our minds and as a logistics company with a 90% Mercedes-Benz fleet, it was only obvious that we were very eager to participate in the Mercedes-Benz eActros tests. This is for our company the way to go to realize a CO2-neutral transport solution that meets our corporate values of sustainability and puts us in the driver seat when it comes to modern and environment-friendly technology.”
Swap body with electric cooling unit from Schmitz Cargobull
The swap body of the eActros used by Van Mieghem Logistics is the W.KO COOL model from Schmitz Cargobull. It has optimized insulation for the energy-efficient transport of refrigerated goods. Its robust construction is ideal for intensive daily use. The purely electrically powered refrigeration unit operates completely emission-free and is specially designed for use in distribution transport. The vehicle bodies will be largely provided by Schmitz Cargobull also in the second test phase.
Boris Billich, Board Member Schmitz Cargobull: “Schmitz Cargobull is actively driving the development of more environmental-friendly and sustainable transport concepts. The emission-free refrigerated swap body W.KO COOL is successful proof of these efforts. We are glad and honoured that Van Mieghem Logistics is using it together with the eActros.”
Numerous insights gained from the first phase
Since 2020, the eActros has been in the second phase of its practical testing as part of the so-called “innovation fleet”. One of the many findings gained during the practical tests is that the eActros’s range of about 200 kilometers has proven to be absolutely realistic – regardless of payload, route or topography. The eActros is in no way inferior to a conventional diesel truck in terms of availability and performance in urban traffic, on highways or overland routes. The cooling system for the cargo, but also the air conditioning – both electrically operated – have been functioning without any limitation in both extreme heat and winter conditions. Drivers are very pleased with the continuous availability of torque across the entire speed range. They also report in particular on the quiet driving style and a pleasant, smooth driving experience. In addition, when driving with foresight, electrical energy can be recovered through recuperation, i.e. motor braking. It is then rarely necessary to use the brake pedal.
The eActros: locally CO2-neutral alternative for urban distribution traffic
The eActros is based on the chassis of the Mercedes-Benz Actros. In addition, however, the vehicle’s architecture is completely geared to electric drive and has a high proportion of specific parts. Drive is provided by two electric motors close to the rear-axle wheel hubs with an output of 126 kW each and a maximum torque of 485 Nm each. This results in 11,000 Nm each after the transmission ratio, which is a performance equivalent to that of a conventional truck. Lithium-ion batteries with 240 kWh supply the energy for the eActros. Depending on the available charging power, the batteries can be fully charged within three hours (at 80 kW).
The development and testing of heavy-duty electric trucks in distribution transport is being funded partially by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and partially by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) as part of the Concept ELV² project.
The eActros in series production: outstanding performance
The series-production eActros will be significantly superior to the prototype in a number of respects, such as range, power and safety. The eActros will be launched as a two- and three-axle vehicle. Series production is scheduled to start in 2021 at the Wörth plant on the Rhine. In addition, Daimler Trucks will embed the vehicle in a holistic ecosystem that also includes consulting services relating to e-mobility. They include route analyses, checking for possible subsidies, support for operational fleet integration and the development of suitable charging-infrastructure solutions.