The battery-electric Mercedes-Benz truck for long-distance haulage is on its way. Mercedes-Benz Trucks will be presenting the series version of the previous eActros LongHaul on October 10, 2023, with a new design and the new name of eActros 600 as a world premiere. The designation 600 is derived from the battery capacity in kilowatt hours – as in the eActros 300/400 for distribution haulage. The high battery capacity and a new, particularly efficient electric drive axle developed in-house enable a range of around 500 kilometers without intermediate charging. Thanks to its low energy consumption, the e-truck, marketed as the “New eActros 600”, is intended to be the most economical long-haul truck from Mercedes-Benz Trucks for customers compared to the conventional diesel Actros. The manufacturer expects that the e-truck will significantly accelerate the far-reaching transformation of road freight transport towards CO2-neutral drives.
Since the first appearance of the electric truck as a “concept prototype” at the IAA Transportation 2022, further test vehicles have been built at the Mercedes-Benz plant Wörth – with central components coming from the Mercedes-Benz plants Mannheim, Kassel and Gaggenau. Prototypes of the vehicle were put through their paces during winter testing in Finland at the beginning of the year. A fleet of around fifty prototype vehicles is currently being built, which is also planned to go into practical testing with the first customers in the next step. At the same time, the four plants are intensively preparing for series production of the eActros 600 or important components. Series production of the e-truck is planned for 2024.
Karin Rådström, CEO Mercedes-Benz Trucks: “The eActros 600, produced in Wörth, is able to replace the majority of diesel trucks in the important long-haul segment, as it sets new standards in terms of cost-effectiveness for our customers. It also offers huge potential for reducing CO2 emissions. I am convinced that this truck will define the new benchmark in road freight transport.”
Yaris Pürsün, Head of Global Powersystems Operation Daimler Truck: “With the eActros 600, the focus of production at our Mercedes-Benz Powersystems plants in Mannheim, Kassel and Gaggenau is shifting more and more to e-mobility. We therefore started to make preparations at an early stage by setting up a production and technology network of competence centers for electric drive components and are already in the midst of preparing for series production of the new generation of our power units.”
Experience from prototype construction at the Wörth plant is incorporated into series development
The eActros 600 will be produced on the existing assembly line at the Wörth production plant, parallel to and flexibly alongside the trucks to be equipped with a diesel drive. The electric drive components will also be installed at that site. The e-axle, high-voltage batteries and the front box, a complex technology module, are mounted in several production steps. Once all high-voltage components have been installed, the entire system is put into operation and the truck is ready to go. In order to optimally prepare for series production, what is known as the production start-up team works closely with the developers. This ensures that the experience gained from the construction of the prototypes is incorporated into the further development of the vehicle. Currently, the prototype vehicles are being built on the assembly line as close to series production as possible.
Mercedes-Benz plants Mannheim, Gaggenau and Kassel supply key components
The component plants Mannheim, Kassel and Gaggenau also play an important role in the electrification of the product portfolio. Just like the Wörth plant, all three locations are currently undergoing the process of shifting away from diesel technology to become competence centers for electric drive components.
The Mercedes-Benz plantMannheim, the leading plant for commercial vehicle engines, draws on the more than 25 years of experience of the site-based Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility (KEM) and focuses on battery technologies and high-voltage systems. What is known as the front box is being built for the eActros 600 in Mannheim – both in the prototype phase and in subsequent series production. It is a complex, assembly-intensive module for battery-powered vehicles with which the former installation space of the combustion engine is used efficiently. Several control units, high-voltage components as well as the electric air compressor are brought together in the front box – the assembly of all individual components, from frame preparation to the high-voltage tests of these units, is carried out at the Mercedes-Benz Mannheim plant.
The Mercedes-Benz Gaggenau plant, which specializes in heavy-duty commercial vehicle transmissions, is currently developing into a competence center for electric drive components. Already since 2021, important parts for the electric axle of the eActros 300/400 for distribution haulage and the eEconic have been manufactured in Gaggenau. Essential components of the new e-axle generation which will propel the eActros 600, will also be produced in Gaggenau – currently still on a prototype level, then later in series production. These are mainly mechanical parts, similar to the ones Gaggenau has been producing for vehicles with conventional powertrains for many years: Transmission components such as shafts and gears as well as housing parts, which Gaggenau delivers to Kassel, where the complete assembly of the axle and transmission components takes place.
The e-axles are assembled at the Mercedes-Benz Kassel plant, the competence center for conventional axles and electric drive systems. The new e-axle generation for the eActros 600 was specially developed for use in long-distance haulage. It has a number of technical innovations for higher performance and efficiency. Its architecture is also based on a system designed for 800 volts instead of 400 volts. The Kassel plant is currently in the prototype phase of e-axle assembly for the eActros 600. For the start of series production, a new assembly line will be created, including test and inspection stations for the functional and safety-related features. As is the case with the e-axle, which is currently used in the eActros 300/400 and eEconic, and which is already manufactured in Kassel, the “common parts principle” also applies to the new generation. This means that the body axle as well as the wheel end and brake components originate from the conventional axle, which the Kassel plant has been manufacturing for over two decades. The components are produced in a highly flexible manner on the conventional assembly line, so that the plant can vary between conventional and electric axles depending on the order situation.
Training and further education: The team is being made fit for electromobility
As part of the transformation towards CO2-neutral transport, the production sites are continuously developing the workforce for the production of trucks with new drive systems. This also includes employees who work on high-voltage components or vehicles such as the eActros undergoing specific training and further education. In Wörth alone, to date, around 2,700 employees have been trained at the in-house training center for handling high-voltage vehicles and components.
SOURCE: Daimler Truck