Daimler Expands Electric Truck Initiative in North America

March 10, 2020 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

Daimler Trucks North America is continuing to push into commercial electric vehicles.

Working with Burlingame, Calif., electric powertrain component maker Proterra Inc., Daimler’s Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. showed off the MT50e, a new all-electric delivery truck chassis at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis last week.

The companies want to leverage the e-commerce boom by developing a quiet, zero-emission vehicle that can work in urban areas that have strict emissions and noise regulations.

The truck is based on Freightliner’s MT platform. It will have a Proterra battery system with 226 kWh of energy capacity. That would allow the truck to have a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 to 23,000 pounds, with no reduction in cargo capacity, the companies said. The truck will have more than 125 miles driving range and can fully charge in three hours with an SAE J1772 CCS DC fast-charging system.

“The new MT-50e blends the earth-friendly and efficient performance of an electric vehicle with the undisputed strength and ruggedness that’s made FCCC the most reliable chassis on the market,” said Mike Stark, Freightliner’s product manager for commercial chassis. The truck “propels both our customers and us into an era of zero emissions for last-mile delivery vehicles.”

There is growing interest in a high-performance electric chassis with an energy-dense battery system among fleet operators, said Ryan Popple, Proterra’s chief executive.

The MT50e will be the first offering in a broader portfolio of electric trucks. Other models will target pick-up and delivery, and the bakery and linen industries.


Meanwhile, Daimler is making more electric Freightliner trucks available for customer testing in North America.

It is adding six heavy-duty Freightliner eCascadia and two medium-duty Freightliner eM2 vehicles to the customer test fleet.

Over the next two years, 14 different customers from multiple industries would use the electric trucks for daily hauling needs. The customers represent a significant opportunity for Daimler as trucking starts a slow transition to electric and other zero-emission vehicles. The customers in the test program operate 150,000 heavy and medium-duty trucks in the U.S., according to Daimler.  The electric trucks will be used in a variety of regions.

These new vehicles are in addition to 30 Freightliner eTrucks that started a larger test program last year.

The initial reviews of Daimler’s electric trucks are good. But companies are worried about the expense of building infrastructure to charge the vehicles.


Freight and logistics company NFI is testing 10 Freightliner eCascadia in Southern California. It is driving them between the  Long Beach and Los Angeles ports and distribution depots in the Inland Empire, 50 to 75 miles away. After six months of testing, it plans broader adoption and is building out charging infrastructure, the company said. It expects to be running as much as 40 percent electric trucks within three years. Eventually, it will transition to an all-electric fleet, said Bill Bleim, NFI’s senior vice president of fleet services.

NFI also is participating in a Volvo electric truck pilot program.

Penske Truck Leasing also is testing Freightliner electric trucks. It is running electric Freightliners in daily delivery operations within California’s Inland Empire. The electric vehicles make multiple, daily store deliveries on a dedicated route.

Daimler, NFI and Penske are using the trucks in a pilot program with the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California. The goal is to improve air quality in the region. The agency is providing about $16 million to fund the program partially.

Daimler said it will begin selling the Freightliner eCascadia and the eM2 late next year.

Navistar Unveils NEW International ... x
Navistar Unveils NEW International MV Work Truck

3 Responses

  1. Brian Smith

    The end product of electric vehicles are amazing and better for the environment (most say). But take a step back and look at the environmental impact that mining the minerals needed for making the batteries and disposing of old batteries are having at this time. Not to mention the poor working conditions and pay for the men women and children that are working the mines and processing plants. Im not saying these things cant or wont change but before you hail EV’s as the way of the future, you should focus on the present ecological damage they are causing to prouce.

  2. M J Nichols

    Why do you people continually refer to these weak electric vehicles as “zero emissions?” Does the electricity to charge the batteries just come from the “sustainability fairies?” I promise you it’s not coming from your stupid-a$$ dystopian windmills. I’m getting super sick of this website and your emails. In my view you are anti-truck and your name should reflect the same.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Subscribe to our mailing lists

Choose one or more topics: