“The Future Is Electric!” DTNA CEO Makes Case For Electric Trucks
“The road to emissions-free transportation is going to be driven with battery-electric vehicles. I believe the future is electric.” – Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America
Long Beach, California – Speaking to a crowd in Long Beach on Thursday, Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), made his case why battery-electric vehicles are the solution to achieve emissions-free commercial transportation in North America.
Nielsen said, “The road to emissions-free transportation is going to be driven with battery-electric vehicles. I believe the future is electric.”
The company intends to continuing offering near-zero-emissions natural gas medium- and heavy-duty vehicles as an “interim solution until full commercialization of the battery-electric Freightliner eM2 and eCascadia.”
However, Nielsen said the road to emissions-free driving does not include plug-in hybrids for DTNA.
Nielsen said the company sees potential for hydrogen fuel cells to extend battery-electric truck range, but does not see it as viable in the near term.
“I can see a glimpse of it over the horizon, but it will not be this generation of engineers who will be delivering it,” continued Nielsen.
Nielsen argued three goals must first be achieved in order to hasten the arrival of zero-emission commercial transport.
First, he said, “the industry must work together to establish a common battery-electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”
Second, he contended, “batteries must become cheaper, lighter, and more powerful.”
Finally, Nielsen said, “the real cost of ownership for customers must be strengthened through increased incentives, decreased maintenance costs, and cheaper energy costs.”
Nielsen asserted, “the key to ensuring electric vehicles are ready for commercialization is testing,” which is why he says DTNA and its global affiliates exhaustively test their electric vehicles over millions of miles on the track and in the real-world.
With its first electric truck already in customer hands, DTNA plans to put nearly 50 on the road by the end of the year.
This includes a test fleet and the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet shared between Penske and NFI.
Affiliated brands Fuso and Mercedes-Benz trucks have already begun deliveries of the battery-electric eCanter and eActros in Asia, Europe, and North America.
DTNA says that by the end of 2019, nearly 200 battery-electric vehicles powered by Daimler will be deployed for testing, co-creation and collaboration worldwide.
“For our engineers, these early customer partners are our test drivers. We want them to test these vehicles to their extremes. We want to see the failures so we can engineer solutions,” said Nielsen.
Additionally, DTNA announced on Thursday that they will begin converting the Portland manufacturing plant to produce electric Freightliners in order to scale rapidly. The plant renovations begin next year with series production scheduled to begin in 2021.
The company’s decision to bring electric vehicle production to Portland was based multiple factors, including Portland’s proximity to the huge demand for electric vehicles in California.
In addition to production, the Portland manufacturing facility will also host a battery storage facility and an electric vehicle co-creation center, where the e-consulting team will collaborate with customers.
Here they will integrate electric trucks into their fleets from order intake through the second life of the truck.