One of the difficult things about designing any type of machine is that the real world can be a bit more taxing than the math. It’s not that math isn’t a great tool for understanding how things work in the real world, but that it’s easy for humans to not know what they’ve been missing by doing calculations and running computer simulations. The problem with the real world is that you’ll figure it out pretty quickly if you’ve overlooked something.
Want a crazy example of this? Here’s a short YouTube video showing what happens when the real world lets you know you didn’t get the math right.
In this case, the waterfall planners secured a cable strong enough for the combined weight of the people who were going to swing from the bridge. But, they forgot about the G-forces that occur when swinging, which multiplies the amount of force the cable has to withstand. When they swung, the cable snapped and the daredevils were sent plunging into the water that was far below. Fortunately, none of them died, but several of them were seriously injured.
Daimler and Mercedes won’t make this mistake
Even the most skilled and talented engineers know that the job isn’t done until you get feedback from real-world testing, and those who work for Daimler Truck are no exception. . They’ve designed a really good electric long-haul truck, but now it’s time to send the prototypes to danger to see how they can take on the real world.
On a single charge, the Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul will have a range of 500 kilometers and can reach a megawatt charge. In September in Hannover, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will launch a “prototype prototype” of the eActros LongHaul as the main attraction at this year’s IAA Transportation trade fair.
“As with all of our electric trucks, we will be building on initial hands-on testing with customers for our eActros LongHaul,” said Michael Scheib, Head of Product Management, Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “By doing so, our engineers will be able to incorporate the valuable insights gained from real-world operations – especially regarding high-performance charging – directly into the development of the production vehicle. We are very pleased with the planned partnerships with Amazon and Rhenus.
Amazon and Rhenus plan to test the eActros LongHaul in a new project called “High-Performance Loading for Long-Haul Trucking” (aka “HoLa”). HoLa is a research project that aims to develop, operate and study a high-performance charging infrastructure for long-distance battery-powered transport. Besides Daimler Truck, other companies and research institutes are involved in this project.
To supply trucks, CCS charging stations will be installed at several locations on the A2 between Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia initially. As the project continues, planned sites will be equipped with Megawatt Charging Stations (MCS) supporting the new MCS charging standard as a member of CharIN – the global association for infrastructure standardization charging. Daimler Truck actively participates in the development by CharIN of a new MCS load specification, as an active participant within CharIN.
HoLa charging stations will be placed along the A2 at several locations. These are spread over highways and logistics centers. As a result, the system can be tested under real conditions and get a real user experience. The rapid charging of battery electric vehicles is a test area: battery-powered vehicles must be able to recharge quickly enough to be able to complete the legal break period of 45 minutes.
Why They’re Doing This Instead Of Moving To Truck Sales
Customers will be accompanied by a team from Mercedes-Benz Trucks to ensure their satisfaction throughout the project. The drivers of the electric truck will be thoroughly trained in the use of the vehicle and the charging system. Driver feedback will be recorded in regular interviews and questionnaires, which will be compiled and evaluated for future prototype development and improvement of charging technology.
By installing measuring devices in the electric trucks, they are able to collect data points while these vehicles are driving. These transmitted data sets will then be evaluated by Mercedes-Benz Trucks before sharing selected information with their partner research institutes.
It’s this data gathering that makes the difference not only to finalizing designs (to fix anything that isn’t working very well), but also to gaining sufficient knowledge to sell and support future mass production.
Serious Juice Handling
The eActros LongHaul uses batteries with lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cell technology. These are characterized in particular by their long service life and higher usable energy. On a charging station with a power of one megawatt, the batteries can be charged from 20 to 80% in less than 30 minutes. The truck’s long range on a single charge, combined with megawatt charging, results in overall ranges that match those of conventional trucks, enabling two-shift operations.
The eActros LongHaul, according to Mercedes-Benz and Daimler, offers a particularly well-balanced drivetrain for an exceptional driving experience. Additionally, the eActros LongHaul comes standard with a number of manufacturer-supplied safety features. The concept of battery-electric long-distance transport from Mercedes-Benz Trucks is to provide customers with a complete package comprising vehicle technology, consulting, charging infrastructure and services. Customers should choose the eActros LongHaul because it is economically viable, environmentally friendly and reliable.
Wait what? A Megawatt!?
Right away, it’s pretty clear that we’re dealing with a lot of power, both for the batteries to store, for the motors to use, and for the truck to move towards the wheels. It’s pretty clear why Mercedes and Daimler have to test them in the real world to make sure they don’t break or have electrical issues.
At the same time, however, he is not an otherworldly figure. A Tesla Semi can sometimes be seen charging using four Supercharger stands, which produce 250kW. That’s one megawatt, in total. So, we are talking about the energy required to quickly charge four cars, which is quite small considering that a semi-trailer can weigh up to 15-20 cars.
Either way, it may give us an idea of why other long-haul electric trucks aren’t yet for sale and on the road with customers. The development process must iron out any problems before serious business operations can depend on it.
Featured image courtesy of Daimler Trucks.
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