The heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz eActros truck with a range of up to 200 km is being used intensively by customers in Germany and Switzerland as part of the eActros "innovation fleet".
The heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz eActros truck with a range of up to 200 km is being used intensively by customers in Germany and Switzerland as part of the eActros "innovation fleet".
( Bild: Daimler)

CO2-neutral Daimler relies on batteries and fuel cells for trucks and buses

Editor: Jochen Schwab

By 2039, Daimler Trucks & Buses intends to offer only locally CO2-neutral new vehicles in Europe, Japan and NAFTA.

By 2022, Daimler Trucks & Buses' vehicle portfolio in Europe, the U.S., and Japan is to include production vehicles with battery-electric drive systems. By the end of the next decade, Daimler Trucks & Buses will add hydrogen-powered production vehicles to its range.

Daimler Trucks & Buses celebrated the world premiere of the fuel cell prototype "Vision F-Cell" of the FUSO brand at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan, thus consistently strengthening its activities in the hydrogen sector. In addition, all European plants of Daimler Trucks & Buses will be CO2-neutral by 2022. All other plants will follow.

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"At Daimler Trucks & Buses, we are clearly committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Protection Convention and thus to the decarbonization of our industry," emphasizes Martin Daum, Daimler AG Board Member responsible for trucks and buses. "CO2-neutral transport on the roads by 2050 is our ultimate goal. This can only be achieved if competitive conditions for CO2-neutral transport are created for our customers in terms of costs and infrastructure. Since a complete fleet renewal by 2050 will take around ten years, it is our ambition to offer completely 'tank-to-wheel', locally CO2-neutral new vehicles in the triad by 2039. Truly local CO2-neutral transport only works with battery-electric propulsion or on the basis of hydrogen. We were the first manufacturer to consistently commit ourselves to electromobility for heavy trucks, and today we are a pioneer in this field and are used by customers in all segments. In the bus sector, our holistic e-mobility approach consisting of electric city buses and advice is already making a significant contribution to local emission-free public transport of the future and air pollution control in conurbations".

"Local CO2-neutral trucks and buses are not self-perpetuating, because even in 2040, despite all efforts on the part of manufacturers, the acquisition and total operating costs of trucks and buses with electric drive will still be higher than those of diesel vehicles. We, therefore, need government intervention to make locally CO2-neutral trucks and buses competitive. What is particularly needed is a Europe-wide conversion and staggering of tolls according to CO2 values, with CO2-neutral vehicles receiving significant toll relief, a targeted support program for buses and for a nationwide charging and hydrogen infrastructure, and uniform standards for the transport and refueling of hydrogen," continued Daum.

Global electric truck portfolio

Daimler Trucks has been gathering experience with electric trucks since 2010 and since 2017 has had its first all-electric truck manufactured in small series on the market and in customer hands: the Fuso eCanter light truck. More than 140 eCanters are already in service in cities around the world, including New York City, Tokyo, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Lisbon. The Mercedes-Benz eActros heavy-duty truck with a range of up to 200 km is being used intensively by customers in Germany and Switzerland as part of the eActros "innovation fleet". In the USA, the medium-weight Freightliner eM2 and the heavy Freightliner eCascadia are also currently undergoing intensive practical tests at customers.

Practical overall e-mobility system for buses

The all-electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, which has been in series production at the Mannheim plant since 2018, offers cities and transport companies the opportunity to convert their fleets to local zero-emission driving. The eCitaro are already in service in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, Oslo/Norway, and Ystad/Sweden; deliveries have also been made to Luxembourg and Switzerland. The eCitaro is continuously being further developed with a view to its practical use in regular service. The eCitaro will be launched in 2021 with the next battery generation and in the second half of 2020 with solid batteries (lithium polymer batteries). From 2022, the battery bus will be available with a range extender (hydrogen-based fuel cell supplies high-voltage batteries with electricity). The battery technologies of the future will lead to increased coverage in regular operation - with the fuel cell as a range extender, almost all routes can be covered. Since the electrification of bus fleets is associated with major changes at the transport companies, Daimler Buses supports its customers in their understanding of an overall e-mobility system by providing comprehensive advice. The Thomas Built Buses brand is also launching an electric series school bus for the American market.

Hydrogen-based drives

Daimler has been working on drive technologies based on hydrogen for more than 30 years. To date, the company's fuel cell vehicles have covered many millions of kilometers, proving that the drive concept is ready for the market. Nevertheless, the challenges in the commercial vehicle sector are very special, for example in terms of service life and payload availability. Battery electric propulsion and hydrogen technologies offer different advantages depending on the application and therefore complement each other. The decisive criterion for truck and bus customers is the total cost of ownership.

"Vision F-Cell" of the FUSO brand: prototype with fuel cell

With the "Vision F-Cell", Daimler Trucks & Buses is consistently strengthening its activities in the hydrogen sector. The FUSO brand is using the prototype to test the possibilities of fuel cell technology for various commercial vehicles. The 7.5-tonner has a drive with a maximum output of 135 kW. The range is up to 300 km. The architecture of the electric drive train of the "Vision F-Cell" is basically comparable to that of a battery-powered truck - apart from a significantly reduced battery power and additional hydrogen tanks..

CO2-neutral production plants in Europe by 2022 - all other plants to follow

In addition, Daimler Trucks & Buses is setting the course for "green" production in Germany and Europe: All German and European plants are to have a CO2-neutral energy supply by 2022. All other plants will follow suit. In concrete terms, this means that the existing truck and bus plants will only obtain their electrical energy from renewable sources.

Daimler Trucks & Buses: Sustainable corporate strategy

More than 120 years ago Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz laid the foundation stone for the modern transport industry. Over the past decades, Daimler's truck and bus divisions have continuously set standards for the entire transport industry - in terms of safety, fuel efficiency and comfort for drivers and passengers. Now it is time for a further evolutionary step: emission-free, automated and networked driving. Daimler Trucks & Buses is working to bring these important technologies into series production across brands, divisions, and regions. In this way, the company wants to take a big step closer to its vision of CO2-neutral transport and accident-free driving and contribute to sustainability in global goods and passenger transport.

This article was first published in German by