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Arms Race Continues with Tesla and VW as Daimler Adds 2 Electric Truck Models

In a press launch attended by Automotive News Europe, Daimler unveiled an all-electric big rig truck, which it promises to have in production by 2021, as the German automaker mounts a major challenge to European manufacturers and Tesla Inc.

Daimler said to Automotive News Europe that the Freightliner eCascadia, with a range of up to 250 miles (402.34 km) and an 80,000 lb. (36.29 ton) gross combined weight, will be more than appropriate for regional distribution and port shipments.

Daimler also revealed a medium-duty Freightliner eM2 106, with a range of up to 230 miles. This has been designed for local distribution, food and beverage delivery, and “final-mile” logistics services.

Automotive News Europe are reporting that Daimler said it will deliver 30 vehicles to customers later this year for field-testing and expects to have the trucks in production by 2021.

The announcement came following Daimler’s trucks division saying it had set up a research and development centre located in the United States for autonomous driving.

Engineers at the new facility in Portland, Ore., will draw on R&D resources at Daimler Trucks operations in Germany and India to create a global network of specialists in the autonomous driving sphere.

Daimler will invest more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in R&D at its truck operations by 2019. This includes more than 500 million euros which is earmarked for electric heavy-duty commercial vehicles, connectivity and self-driving technology, including the new Portland R&D centre.

“We are pioneering technologies across the automated vehicle spectrum that make roads safer and help trucking companies boost productivity,” said Sven Ennerst in Automotive News Europe, Head of Truck Product Engineering at Daimler.

Furthermore, Daimler is also making plans to expand its line-up of battery-powered trucks to help comply with tougher carbon dioxide emissions rules in Europe, said Martin Daum, Head of the Division.

Serial production of the eActros truck with an operating range of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) will start in 2021, citing tests with other models including the eFuso and eCanter trucks.

According to Automotive News Europe, a presentation revealed that Daimler has plans for more than a dozen more electrified trucks worldwide. This includes the new eCascadia model for North America which is intended to compete with Tesla’s planned long-distance Semi-electric truck.

Independently, Daimler Trucks expects a strong second half of the year, but second-quarter business remains challenging. With some problems in the supply chain, Jochen Goetz, its Finance Chief explained to Automotive News Europe, “Q2 will be challenging but we see a strong second half of the year. We are currently facing some problems on the supply chain, we will not lose a single truck but some (trucks) might be invoiced in Q3.”

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