Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) recently announced that it has completed the first two units of Freightliner’s eCascadia battery-electric truck. The two vehicles are part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet and constructed to evaluate the integration of all-electric trucks into large-scale fleet operations.
The Freightliner eCascadia is built on the Cascadia platform, one of Daimler’s best-selling Class 8 heavy-duty trucks currently available on the market. The all-electric eCascadias were designed and hand-built by 55 engineers and technicians, who utilized 1.5 miles worth of electrical wiring and a quarter mile’s worth of high-voltage cables to help create a truck that boasts an 80,000-pound gross combined weight rating.
The eCascadia is powered by a hefty 550 kWh battery, which gives the electric truck a range of 250 miles per charge, making the vehicle ideal for short-range routes. The two eCascadias are still part of Freightliner’s testing fleet, but the trucks are expected to see real-world use by Penske and NFI in the near future. More deliveries are expected to follow over the following months as well.
Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA, is optimistic about the vehicles. “This milestone in electric is important as both today and tomorrow’s technology is progressing. Our purpose is resolute – we build for our customers. Our team is incredibly proud to be leading the way for the industry, but prouder still to be working with our customers in a process of co-creation to make real electric trucks for real work in the real world,” he said.
The eCascadia’s 250-mile range will likely put the vehicle in direct competition with other all-electric trucks that are expected to enter the market. Among these is the Tesla Semi, which will come in variants that have 300 and 500 miles of range per charge. It should be noted that Tesla has expressed plans for a dedicated charging infrastructure for the Semi, which will allow its trucks to tackle routes beyond their rated range. Daimler, for its part, is yet to announce a comparable initiative, though it has noted that the eCascadia can be recharged to around 80% within 90 minutes for an extra 200 miles of range.
Overall, the arrival of the eCascadia does provide some pressure to other upcoming all-electric trucks like the Tesla Semi. Daimler is a veteran in the trucking industry, after all, and it intends to start deliveries of the vehicle before Tesla’s all-electric trucks reach their first customers. Tesla, for its part, has two Semi prototypes undergoing real-world testing across the United States. Production of the vehicle was initially expected for 2019, though the company adjusted the truck’s target manufacturing date to 2020.