Pure electric short range trucks are rapidly becoming viable as they face much tougher local and global emissions regulations. For example, lower cost, higher energy density lithium-ion battery packs are arriving thanks to technologies such as silicon anodes and high-capacity high-nickel NMC cathodes being launched in the next few years by all major battery manufacturers. More efficient power electronics and traction motors have arrived.
Large battery packs are becoming familiar in buses, ships, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles AUV, grid management and elsewhere with 350kWh versions contemplated for giant mining trucks. Ultra fast charging is in use for some of them. They can use stationary supercapacitors firing up to 400kW into other supercapacitors across the vehicle's traction batteries: think ABB Tosa bus systems. Some batteries are now claimed to be tolerant of fast charging without supercapacitor protection. That is the thrust of Yutong in China, world leader in buses.
In July 2016, Mercedes unveiled the prototype of its Urban eTruck with a 26 ton permissible gross vehicle weight for short-radius distribution in cities. The pure electric truck features two 125 kW electric motors in the rear adjacent to the wheel hubs and has a modular battery pack with up to 212 kWh capacity that can be recharged using Contactless Charging Systems CCS. Range is estimated at 200 km.
Daimler says that it will not begin serial production before 2020. That means it will be a laggard in such trucks just as it is a laggard in pure electric cars as it goes for top quality. Tesla will probably have something earlier. Indeed, Dutch manufacturer VDL will offer a 37t e-truck for short-radius distribution in cities by 2017. It will use locally developed and manufactured battery technology.
Some short range trucks will permit a range extender to be added for longer range but for the heaviest trucks at all ranges, dynamic catenary charging is looking good as an alternative. Meanwhile, Wrightspeed has developed a medium truck with gas turbine range extender that MACK is adopting.
For more read the new IDTechEx reports, Industrial and Commercial Electric Vehicles 2016-2026, Lithium-ion Batteries 2016-2026, Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Buses 2016-2026 and reports on contactless charging, range extenders and other aspects www.idtechex.com.
Top image source: Mercedes