PORTLAND, Ore. — Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) said Monday it has built the first two Class 8 battery electric Freightliner eCascadias for customers at its research and development center in Portland.
The trucks are part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet and built to test the integration of battery electric trucks into large-scale fleet operations, according to Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA.
Penske Truck Leasing of Reading, Pennsylvania, and NFI of Camden, New Jersey, are both members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council and will be the first companies to employ the revolutionary eCascadia in their commercial operations. The eCascadias are destined for the Southern California operations of both companies and will arrive later this month. Additional deliveries of the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet will continue throughout 2019.
“This milestone in electric is important as both today and tomorrow’s technology is progressing. Our purpose is resolute — we build for our customers,” Nielsen said. “Our team is incredibly proud to be leading the way for the industry, but prouder still to be working with our customers in a process of co-creation to make real electric trucks for real work in the real world.”
Nielsen said the eCascadia is built on the proven foundation of the Freightliner Cascadia, the best-selling Class 8 heavy-duty truck on the market. The initial customer shipments are the first heavy-duty additions to the 30-vehicle Freightliner Innovation Fleet. Real-world use of the Innovation Fleet and continuing feedback from the members of the Freightliner Electric Vehicle Council will inform the final production versions of both the eCascadia and the medium-duty Freightliner eM2 in a process of co-creation.
Co-creation is the central tenet of DTNA’s approach to electrifying the future of commercial vehicles and a key enabler to the widespread adoption of battery electric trucks, Nielsen said. The Electric Vehicle Council brings together 38 Freightliner customers to identify and address all potential hurdles to large-scale deployment of commercial battery electric vehicles. Issues at the forefront of the discussion include charging infrastructure, partnerships with other parties in the e-mobility value chain, vehicle specifications and vehicle use case.
The Freightliner Innovation Fleet is supported by a partnership between DTNA and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) which focuses on improving air quality in the South Coast Basin and partially funded the Innovation Fleet with a nearly $16 million grant. The first of the medium-duty electric Freightliner eM2s began service earlier this year with Penske Truck Leasing and are operated within the South Coast AQMD.
“This is an exciting time for the future of zero-emissions trucks, said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD’s Executive Officer. “As we work towards meeting air quality standards, it is imperative that truck manufacturers accelerate the commercialization of these technologies that will help clean our air and protect public health.”
The Freightliner eCascadia is a Class 8 tractor designed for local and regional distribution and drayage. Both the eCascadia and the medium-duty eM2 are currently planned to enter series production in late 2021. The Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, joining the company’s Thomas Built Buses all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, the FUSO eCanter, and the Mercedes-Benz eActros and eCitaro.