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Freightliner eCascadia [left] and eM2 [right]
Image: Daimler
Daimler Trucks & Buses is establishing a new Automated Truck Research and Development Center in Portland, Oregon. This US facility is developing, fine-tuning, testing and validating automated driving systems, in collaboration with other Daimler Trucks centers in Stuttgart and Bangalore. Other Daimler business divisions – especially the passenger car unit – will benefit from its research, the company said.

Speaking at the Daimler Trucks Capital Market & Technology Day, held at the Portland center, Daimler board member for Trucks & Buses Martin Daum said: “Automated driving offers enormous advantages in the logistics business, with the potential to mitigate the shortage of truck drivers around the world."

From a technology point of view, "there is still a long way to go until trucks can drive fully autonomously," he said. "Automated vehicles must be as safe as possible… Our new research and development center is an important milestone on this road. We are strengthening our efforts in this area to leverage synergies in the development of these key technologies across the globe.”

Global E-Mobility Group established

Daimler Trucks announced that it is investing more than 2.5 billion euros in research and development during 2018-2019, and more than 500 million euros of this will be spent on e-mobility, connectivity and automated technologies. It is setting up a new global E-Mobility Group (EMG) to develop an electrification strategy for trucks, from electric components to complete electric vehicles and a standardized global electric architecture.

EMG is to consolidate the e-mobility and electric-drive work at Daimler Trucks’ worldwide network, including at its facility in Kawasaki, Japan, as well as in Stuttgart and Portland, and will be headed by Gesa Reimelt, currently head of product projects, powertrain and eDrive, Mercedes-Benz. She will report to Dr Frank Reintjes, head of global powertrain and manufacturing and engineering, Daimler Trucks.

At the event in Portland, two new all-electric trucks were presented to underline the commitment to e-mobility: the heavy-duty, long-distance Freightliner eCascadia (>15t GVT) and the medium-sector Freightliner eM2 106 (9-12 t GVW). The eCascadia features a 550 kWh battery pack said to give a range of up to 250 miles (400 km), and can be recharged to 80 pc capacity for an extra 200 miles (320 km) within 90 minutes. The eM2 106, meanwhile, has a range of around 230 miles (370 km) and is seen as a solution for more local distribution and last-mile delivery services.

An initial fleet of around 30 electric trucks will go out to customers later this year for day-to-day operational evaluation.

-Farah Alkhalisi