Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) delivered the first vehicle in its line of full-sized electric trucks to vehicle rental giant Penske Truck Leasing Co. on Dec. 20, saying the move was a milestone in the real-world application of battery-electric commercial vehicles.
Handing over the Freightliner eM2 to Reading, Pa.-based Penske met Daimler's pledge to put an electric commercial truck in customer hands in 2018, and kept Portland, Ore.-based DTNA in the thick of the race to replace traditional diesel-powered trucks with emissions-free electric models.
Other electric truck manufacturers include Volvo Trucks, which said earlier this month that it will roll out an all-electric tractor cab for pilot use in California in 2019 and begin full commercial sales of the VNR Electric in North America in 2020.Tesla Motors has also been driving prototypes of its much-hyped Tesa Semi to customer sites in advance of promised production in 2019. And Nikola Motor Co. has recently begun delivering the first of its hydrogen-electric powered semi trucks.
In addition to the rolling stock, a critical step in the rollout of battery-powered vehicles is installing recharging plugs from coast to coast. Just as diesel-powered trucks rely on a nationwide network of gas stations, electric trucks need refueling infrastructure as well. So as a first step in deploying that infrastructure for DTNA's Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet, Penske Truck Leasing said it will install 20 high-power charging stations across five of its California locations starting this month.
Over the next year, as Daimler increases production, Penske will put an additional nine medium-duty electric eM2 trucks and 10 heavy-duty eCascadia electric trucks into service within its logistics, truck leasing, and truck rental fleets in California and the Pacific Northwest, the firm said.
"With increased hauling demands and regulatory pressures, combined with ongoing concerns over energy resource depletion, it is more important than ever that DTNA continues to rigorously test and research electric vehicle solutions together with our customers," Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA, said in a release. "Electric commercial vehicles present a real opportunity to advance the ideal of emissions-free mobility while improving our customers' real cost of ownership (RCO)."