Mercedes-Benz today unveiled what it is calling the first-ever fully-electric heavy truck, dubbed the Urban eTruck.
It's based on a heavy-duty, three-axle, short-radius Mercedes-Benz distribution truck, a description that's longer than the truck's 200-km driving range. That doesn't sound like much for such a vehicle, but that's the point: as its "Urban" moniker suggests, Benz says the eTruck was conceived for use in cities, to distribute and deliver goods arriving from elsewhere on trains or long-haul trucks. It could also be used for other tasks urbane to urban environments, like garbage collection.
The idea, according to Mercedes, was to built a heavy truck that would help address pollution concerns in urban areas, which continue to grow around the world. Quoting the United Nations, Mercedes-Benz says that by 2050, around 70 percent of the world's population -- predicted to reach nine billion -- will live in cities. And with a few large cities considering bans on combustion engines in urban centres, apparently the time is right for an all-electric truck.
As we said earlier, the eTruck rides on a standard-issue Mercedes-Benz three-axle truck chassis, minus the usual diesel engine, transmission, driveshaft and rear differential. In place of that drivetrain are a pair of electric motors integrated into the rear hubs -- each one making 168 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque -- drawing juice from a 212 kWh battery pack nestled between the frame rails where a conventional truck's driveshaft would be. And that 200-km range, said to be enough for a days' worth of deliveries in an urban centre, would come after just two to three hours of charging.
Mercedes doesn't say when a production version of the eTruck would hit European roads, but the company says production "is conceivable at the beginning of the next decade."