ANAHEIM, Calif. — Daimler Truck North America revealed a Freightliner medium-duty electric truck at the ACT Expo on Tuesday.
Orders for the eM2 will begin immediately, and Daimler said production will begin in the fourth quarter at its Portland, Ore., manufacturing plant.
"For drivers who have already experienced this truck, they love it," said Katie Rabideau, eMobility product marketing manager at Daimler Truck North America. The truck was used in test programs with companies before launch. "It's incredibly intuitive."
A drive on a controlled course here at the ACT Expo, which stands for Advanced Clean Transportation, revealed a quiet ride, a comfortable seat and steering wheel setup, and a responsive throttle.
The eM2 release comes about a year after the commercial launch of the eCascadia, an electric version of a popular Freightliner Class 8 tractor. Rakesh Aneja, chief of eMobility at Daimler Truck North America, said the eM2 benefited from lessons learned during eCascadia development. For example: how components perform in extreme temperatures and in shaker tests.
The "eM2 did not have to repeat those lessons. It was able to benefit from the eCascadia experience — the same folks building the same truck on the same line," Aneja said. Those employees are "getting more and more familiar."
Daimler also announced an eM2 vocational innovation program to use the truck as a base for utilities, street cleaning, dumping, sweeping, towing and refuse operations, among other applications.
Last week, Daimler revealed a medium-duty electric truck brand, Rizon, designed for use by fleet managers in cities.
Daimler is positioning itself as a legacy automaker with the credentials to soothe anxious fleet owners as they make the electric transition. In an increasingly competitive space, Daimler's approach has been to stress the company's fleet experience, dealership network and history of consistent service.
The eM2 features the electric Detroit ePowertrain with multiple battery size options.
The Class 6 single-motor has a typical range of 180 miles per charge, and the Class 7 dual-motor has a typical range of 250 miles per charge.
The eM2 also has standard driver-assist features, including active brake assist, tailgate warning and side guard assist, and connected-vehicle tools that allow fleet managers to monitor battery health, collect data for post-trip analysis and plan routes.
The truck manufacturer will deploy consultants from its Detroit powertrain division to work with Freightliner customers to make the electric transition, helping them choose chargers and sort through government incentives. The company and a dealer partner said that training and service will be paramount to the success of the vehicle.
"If the truck is parked, money is lost," said Alexander Voets, general manager of Velocity EV, part of a truck dealership group in Fontana, Calif.
More than 90 percent of the Freightliner dealership base has completed a sales training course and is ready to sell the eM2, the company said.