Electric trucks are coming

Two recent announcements leave us in no doubt that electric trucks will be a feature of the road transport sector very soon.

Mercedes-Benz has announced that it is putting 18 and 25-tonne lorries in the hands of transport operators to give them real-life testing. Renault has announced that it will launch a range of electric vehicles next year.

Mercedes getting into gear

Having produced the world’s first heavy-duty electric truck in 2016, Mercedes is now placing 10 eActros lorries with operators for feasibility testing. This will demonstrate whether the vehicles’ range and the current electric charging infrastructure will support trucks of these sizes.

The test customers, all from Germany or Switzerland, are: Camion Transport, Dachser, Edeka, Hermes, Kraftverkehr Nagel, Ludwig Meyer, Migros, Pfenning logistics, TBS Rhein-Neckar and Rigterink.

The 18-tonne truck has two axles and the 25-tonne version three. The test customers come from very different sectors and categories and the production eActros trucks will carry goods ranging from groceries to building supplies and raw materials. They have a variety of bodies including refrigerated, boxed and curtainside, so the trials should cover the vast majority of road transport scenarios.

It could also lead the way for self-drive HGV’s.

Renault coming up fast

Meanwhile, Renault, which has been selling the 4.5-tonne Maxity Electric since 2010, has also been testing electric trucks in the 12 to 16-tonne range with partners. Starting in 2009, the tests have been running in conjunction with the Delanchy Group, Nestlé, Speed Distribution and Stef.

Renault has announced that in 2019 it will launch larger electric trucks produced by a dedicated production line currently being installed at Blainville-sur-Orne in Normandy.

As part of the Volvo Group truck manufacturing concern since 2000, Renault has access to its parent’s impressive R&D facilities. This and sharing information with other members of the group has helped enormously in getting the trucks through testing and into production.

Renault manufactures a large number of tipper truck where electric powered trucks would be appealing to many fleet operators.

Benefits all round?

Electric trucks are surely destined to be the future for the transport sector. These new entrants into the market will tackle both urban and inter-city situations and will be more sustainable, quieter and less polluting at the point of use than diesel-powered trucks.

It’s not yet clear if there’ll be any implications for HGV Insurance but one concern is that the vehicles’ silence may cause problems for pedestrians – Mitsubishi’s successful PHEV 4×4 is one example of a manufacturer adding an artificial hum at low speeds to help people’s awareness of its presence. Manufacturers are looking to researchers and governments for guidance as to what they should implement to avoid a looming liability problem for the motor trade insurance sector.