Mercedes-Benz is to put 10 electric eActros trucks into operation with fleets this year.
The vehicles, in two variants with gross weights of 18 or 25 tonnes, will be handed over in the next few weeks to customers, who will test their real-world feasibility and economic efficiency.
The manufacturer hopes the real-world trial will enable it to introduce a range of economically competitive electric trucks for use in heavy-duty transport operations from 2021.
Martin Daum, the Daimler AG Board Member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Buses, said: "Daimler Trucks is synonymous with innovation leadership, allied to a realistic and pragmatic attitude.
“This is particularly true when it comes to electric mobility.
"We now want to work together with our customers to move swiftly forward with the development of our Mercedes-Benz eActros to the point where it becomes a viable proposition in tough everyday operations – both technically and commercially.
"We are beginning this process by creating an innovation fleet and will be supporting its testing in the day-to day logistics environment of our customers.
"This will enable us to establish just what remains to be done, in terms of technical matters, infrastructure and service, to make our Mercedes-Benz eActros competitive.”
Participating in the fleet test are customers from a variety of sectors in Germany and Switzerland. They are Dachser, Edeka, Hermes, Kraftverkehr Nagel, Ludwig Meyer, Pfenning logistics, TBS Rhein-Neckar and Rigterink from Germany, and Camion Transport and Migros from Switzerland.
These customers distribute goods via road, but in very different sectors and categories. Commodities carried range from groceries to building supplies and raw materials.
The eActros will be used to undertake tasks that would otherwise be completed by vehicles with conventional diesel engines.
According to need, they are fitted with refrigerated boxes, tank or curtainside bodies. The drivers are being trained specially to work with the eActros.
The pilot customers will be testing the vehicles for 12 months, after which the trucks will be going out to a second round of customers for a further year.
Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, added: “This will enable us to satisfy the many requests we have had from customers and to gain even more insight.
“Our aim is to achieve series-production and market maturity for a range of economically competitive electric trucks for use in heavy-duty transport operations with effect from 2021.”
The eActros is based on the frame of the conventional Actros and its drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs which generate an output of 125 kW each, with maximum torque of 485 Nm each.
The maximum permissible axle load stands at the usual 11.5 tonnes. The energy for a range of up to 125 miles is provided by two lithium-ion batteries with an output of 240 kWh
For safety reasons, the battery packs are protected by steel housings. In the event of a collision, the mountings give way and deform, so diverting the energy past the batteries without damaging them.