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Daimler is testing electric delivery trucks on the west coast

Penske will install electric charging stations to keep the trucks on the road
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Daimler Trucks North America

At an event in Southern California today, Daimler Trucks of North America (DTNA) handed the keys to a Freightliner eM2 electric delivery truck to Penske Truck Leasing. The vehicle has been in development for a few years, but in the past nine months, the two companies have worked together to create something that fits nicely into Penske's business.

Daimler has been busy lately electrifying large vehicles that have traditionally been powered by diesel engines. The eFuso arm of the brand has its eCanter electric light-trucks making deliveries in Japan and the United States. Plus there's the Thomas-built Jouley electric school bus that became available for sale this past November.

Today's Freightliner vehicles are a collaboration with Penske and Southern California Edison. These partnerships are important to help the automaker learn how these vehicles will be used in the real world.

"The charge and discharging cycle is very intense," DTNA CEO Roger Nielsen told Engadget. Daimler has to make sure the truck can haul its payload and charge up and discharge completely seven days a week. Folks rely on these vehicles for their livelihood, they have to be robust enough to handle extreme conditions. "It comes with a higher level of responsibility," Nielsen said.

The vehicle handed over today will be joined next year by nine more eM2 medium-duty trucks and 10 heavy-duty eCascadia trucks. Initially, they'll all be deployed by Penske in California and the Pacific Northwest.

The eCascadia has a range of up to 250 miles while the eM2 tops out at 230 miles on a full charge. Both are enough for regional and local deliveries. But keeping the trucks juiced up involved working with Southern California Edison to make the high-output chargers being placed at five Penske locations are able to recharge the eM2 to 200 miles in 60 minutes. Right now the company is pushing for 150kW chargers but in the future would like to be able to upgrade to 300kW stations.

Daimler hopes to take everything it learns from these trucks being used in the real world for an official launch of these trucks in 2021.

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