Daimler shapes up to Tesla, with new all-electric semi-trailer

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Daimler releases all-electric version of Cascadia semi – “the most successful heavy-duty long-distance truck …in the North American market.”

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German auto giant Daimler AG has delivered its answer to the Tesla Semi, unveiling an all-electric version of its Cascadia heavy duty semi-trailer truck, called eCascadia.

The electric big-rig was unveiled this week alongside a smaller electric truck, the Freightliner eM2 106, which the company said was designed for local distribution operations and last-mile delivery services.

But most of the media attention has been focused on the eCascadia, which is being seen as a direct – and worthy – competitor to Elon Musk’s “class 8 truck,” the Tesla Semi.

 

“The Freightliner eCascadia is based on the Cascadia, the most successful heavy-duty long-distance truck (class 8) in the North American market,” the company said in a statement.

“730 hp is almost silently generated under the characteristically long, U.S.-style hood. …*Its batteries provide enough energy for a range of up to 400 km (250 miles), and can be recharged to around 80 per cent within 90 minutes to cover a further 320km (200 miles).”

By comparison, the Tesla Semi offers a 200kWh battery pack; a range of up to 800km (500 miles) on a single charge; and a rate of charge of 400 miles (643km) in 30 minutes.

“By the time you are done with your break, the truck is ready to go. You will not be waiting for your truck to charge,” Musk had boasted at the Semi’s launch in November last year.

Elon Musk unveils the long range Tesla Semi electric truck

As we have noted, there are many other electric trucks on the market, beyond Tesla and now Daimler.

Cummins, a leading US maker of diesel and natural gas engines for commercial trucks, unveiled a Class 7 truck cab in late August 2017, featuring an advanced 140kWh battery pack that it will sell to bus operators and commercial truck fleets starting in 2019.

And Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw, unveiled a 53 foot, fully electric class 8 BYD electric truck in early November 2017 – the first in a transition of its company-owned fleet to EVs.

But as we further noted, Tesla, is Tesla – and the entry of Musk into any market is bound to put some sort of rocket under it.

As Giles Parkinson wrote here, the electrification of the massive global freight industry is a particularly exciting proposition – offering a cheaper and much cleaner alternative to heavy polluting diesel fuelled trucks.

Certainly, Daimler’s head of trucks and buses, Martin Daum, is rising to the challenge.

“We are the undisputed global leader of the trucking industry and we intend to remain in that position with electric trucks,” he said this week.

“We were first-movers on electric trucks and strive to set the standard in each relevant segment in which we compete.

“With the formation of our new global E-Mobility Group, we will maximise the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology. Thus, we can pursue the best solutions in batteries, charging solutions and energy management.”

*This article has been corrected to remove a figure – 550kWh – while RE works to verify the size of the battery pack used in the eCascadia.

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9 Comments
  1. George Takacs 4 months ago

    Is there a typo? 550 kWh of storage is around 5.5 tonnes of battery, and 400 km on that much storage is woefully inefficient. One of these numbers must surely be wrong.

    • Sophie Vorrath 4 months ago

      Thanks George, I agree the 550kWh battery size looks a bit off. But from what I have seen they are the numbers from a company statement. I have taken the figure down (and put a note in the story) until I can verify it. Sophie

      • Ian 4 months ago

        No Sophie , you probably did not hear wrong, check out this article from electrek.co

        https://electrek.co/2018/06/07/daimler-electric-semi-truck-ecascadia-tesla-semi/

        They quote the same 550kWh battery size . Specific energy densities for lithium batteries seem to range from 100 to about 265 Wh/kg 5.5 tonnes to 2 tonnes. The GVW of the diesel Cascadia is 27.5tonnes so it’s not inconceivable that the eCascadia has a battery of 5.5 tonnes. The Diesel engine weighs 800kg, the fuel tanks about 500kg and the gear box and drive shafts probably another tonne. These are big machines afterall

  2. Joe 4 months ago

    I hope that Daimler don’t get caught ‘software cheating’ like their Diesel cousins.

  3. Ferris B 4 months ago

    I don’t think Tesla have confirmed a battery pack size but it’s sure to big bigger than 200kwh to move the tractor and full trailer 800kms, probably more around 600-800kwh.

  4. Ian 4 months ago

    Sophie, love your work. The Cascadia truck costs about $150 000 so you would expect their new eCascadia to be double that or less. $300 000 for 550kWh or $550/kWh. You could buy one of these as the core of a minigrid storage for a small suburb or factory park!

  5. John Gardner 4 months ago

    Don’t forget that we have a Victorian manufacturer of electric trucks, SEA Automotive, that has already put some vehicles on the road.

  6. neroden 4 months ago

    I believe this is an electric semi *tractor*. An electric semi *trailer* would be if the back half were electric (as in, maybe, a refrigerated trailer using electric power).

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