Mercedes Benz truck engineers have been putting the eActros Long Haul through its paces in the Arctic Circle as part of an extreme cold test program as part of the development program for the battery electric prime mover
Mercedes says that haulage companies are placing the same demands on battery-electric trucks as on their counterparts with conventional diesel engines and that even in difficult weather conditions, such as cold, ice and snow, the trucks must do their job reliably.
It was with this background, that Benz ran its winter truck tests recently at Rovaniemi in Finland,which the company said once again proved to be important endurance tests for its new electric trucks.
The test included vehicles from various model series – including prototypes of the battery-electric eActros LongHaul, which is set to go into series production in 2024. The tests also included the battery-electric eActros 300 as a prime mover as well as the conventionally powered Actros L with diesel power.
Under extreme climatic conditions, such as on snowy and icy roadways, harsh winds and temperatures down to minus 25 degrees, the development and test team tested the individual models in order to derive possible measures for further optimisation.
Head of global testing for Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Dr. Christof Weber, said that testing its product range under extreme winter conditions is also an essential part of the brand’s vehicle development in terms of alternative drives,” said Weber.
“Haulage companies must be able to rely on our electric trucks in a highly competitive environment at any time of year, just as they are used to from conventionally powered vehicles. For this reason, our test engineers in Finland put the vehicles through their paces for six weeks,” he added.
Mercedes-Benz says its truck development engineers took a close look at all the functions and systems of the vehicles in practical use on the trip to Finland.
The company tested support when changing lanes as part of the Active Sideguard Assist or active lane guidance with Active Drive Assist in the Actros L and with several national borders needing to be crossed, the company said it was also possible to measure the impact of country-specific lane markings, traffic signs and digital map data on the performance of the assistance systems installed in the trucks.
The company says that the fact that the trucks were tested all day long also allowed aspects such as the comfort of the driver’s seat to be evaluated.
With the eActros LongHaul and the eActros 300 prime mover, the Benz experts paid particular attention to the battery properties and the electric drivetrain on site in adverse weather conditions. For this purpose, elements including starting properties and drive components’ protection from low temperatures, software and interfaces were tested. In addition, thermal and energy management systems were subjected to intensive testing. Both ensure that both the drivetrain and the driver’s cab are temperature-controlled correctly and energy-efficiently, even at low temperatures.
The company said that this showed that the eActros LongHaul generally heats the cab faster than a diesel truck thanks to its smaller heating circuit with high output. However it added that since the energy for this is taken from the batteries installed in the vehicle and therefore the range is reduced, so-called pre-conditioning of the electric truck at a charging station is advisable. After pre-conditioning, the eActros LongHaul loses less range even in extremely low temperatures.
Dr. Weber, said the company was very satisfied with the test results.
“The tests of the batteries and electric drivetrain properties at extreme temperatures or of the vehicle’s driving properties on slick, icy roads show: Even in very wintry conditions, our battery-powered trucks are fully operational,” said Weber.
The winter test also included numerous tests on driving and braking properties on surfaces with different levels of grip as well as the impact of slush, for example, on the effectiveness of the sensors of driver assistance systems. Also tested was how the Trailer Stability Assistant can reduce the risk of tractor-trailers skidding during cornering or evasive maneuvers on winter roads and how the MirrorCam handles different contrast conditions on ice and snow.
The eActros 300 model variant as a prime mover, was introduced for the first time at IAA Transportation in Hanover last year, and can pull all common European semi-trailers, and is based on the same technology as the eActros 300/400. Three battery packs, each with 112 kWh of installed battery capacity, enable a range of up to 220 kilometers on a single battery charge. Series production is scheduled to start in the second half of 2023.
The eActros LongHaul is scheduled to be ready for series production for long-distance transport in 2024. Mercedes unveiled a concept prototype of the electric truck in Hanover last year.
The series-production eActros LongHaul boasts a range of around 500 kilometers on a single battery charge and will enable high-performance charging. At IAA, it was awarded the “2023 Truck Innovation Award” by the “International Truck of the Year” jury. Batteries with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cell technology are used in the eActros LongHaul. These are characterized, above all, by a long service life and more usable energy.
Prototype test trucks of the Long Haul are rumoured to be on their way to Australia for a test program ahead of potential launch here late in 2024 or early 2025.