Daimler’s unveiling of its heavy duty eActros prime mover at the Hannover IAA was an exciting and impressive step forward for the World’s biggest turn maker and came just over a month after T&B news had the opportunity to drive both an e Actros 15 tonne rigid in Germany and also to ride in its first hydrogen fuel cell prototype on the test track near its massive Würth manufacturing plant in Central Germany.
The impressions of the ride end drive opportunities have been embargoed till now.
In the first drive of the heavy eActros we had the chance to drive the truck laden close to its specified GVM over about a 30 km test on typical German roads including a couple of busts on an autobahn as well as on local and rural single carriageway roads and through towns.
It was at that stage the heaviest electric truck we had driven, but on take off it didn’t feel any different or heavier than Daimler’s Fuso eCanter we have driven a couple of times now. The truck accelerated quickly and smoothly racing to cruising speed on the autobahn and rapidly getting to the ambient pace from stat up at roundabouts and stop signs in urban areas. It quickly became apparent that the eActros could be driven as a one pedal truck, with the regenerative braking force supplied by the electrical system slowing the truck on throttle off. The system has a three stage wand on the steering column that increases the braking force and recharge effect or reduces it through three stages, depending on requirements.
Above all there was the quiet. The smooth and virtually noiseless acceleration astounds and amazes, with only a subdued ‘whirr’ in the background as the throttle is pushed down and the truck surges forward with quiet urgency.
The cockpit and dash are similar in many ways to those in the diesel Actros range with similar size screens and many of the same controls, except of course gauges and dials that show relevant electrical data and readouts, but apart from that, ostensibly you are behind the wheel of an Actros, just this one is powered by electricity not diesel fuel.
All too soon we arrived back at the Mercedes Benz experience centre across the road from the giant Würth plant, and frankly we could have continued down the autobahn. for a couple of hours before stopping for a feed and a battery charge. This is a truck that is going to win friends amongst drivers and operators as long as they are intelligent to grasp and understand just how relaxing and exhilarating it is to steer, this is a fatigue fighting truck and one that will also help the planet enormously.
In the next few days we will feature our ride experience aboard the Mercedes-Benz H2 truck and its remarkable performance on the banked test track at Würth.