A workday in an electric truck – here’s the verdict

We have tested an electric truck

For a driver at H. Daugaard, 300 km on the road and a lift delivery of tires is nothing out of the ordinary. However, doing it all in a brand-new electric truck from Mercedes-Benz is not an everyday occurrence. At least not yet. The question is whether it can be. Read our assessment here.

At H. Daugaard, our ambition is to switch from diesel trucks to electric trucks in the foreseeable future. What will it take to realise this ambition? To learn more about the possibilities and challenges, our Fleet Manager, Palle Albertsen, spent a workday with one of our skilled drivers, Keld Bygvrå, to test the new Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 electric truck. The day provided both insights and food for thought.

You can also read the article: “What is the fuel of the future?”

2ºC​​ and 100% charged

One of the questions that often comes up when discussing electric trucks in our industry is: ‘How much range does an electric truck have?’

This is a question that is relevant in terms of both planning and rest time, and it may prove decisive in the switch from diesel to electric. Factors such as climate, driving patterns, driving behaviour, the vehicle manufacturer, and the model have a major impact on range – for passenger cars as well as electric trucks. The Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 electric truck has a theoretical range of 300 km. Yet as most of us are aware, theory and practice don’t always go hand in hand – and that proved to be the case here.

When Palle and Keld started their workday early in the morning, the temperature was 2ºC and the eActros 300 was at 100% charge, indicating a possible range of 220 km. The total distance of the planned route was 318 km. We had carefully chosen to test the electric truck on one of our shorter transport deliveries, as we were aware of the many uncertainties that come with the range of electric trucks.

With a range of 220 km, a trip from Vamdrup to Aarhus (113 km) shouldn’t have been a problem. However, a significant part of the range was already gone by the time Palle and Keld arrived in Aarhus and completed three lift deliveries. In order to continue to Randers, they had to recharge the truck, and this turned out to be a challenge.

Creative Solutions

While Denmark has come a long way in terms of charging stations for passenger cars, Palle and Keld soon realised that there is still progress  needed to be made when it comes to charging options for electric trucks:

‘The only available charger in the area was designed for passenger cars. Technically, it wasn’t possible for us to charge our electric truck.’
– Palle Albertsen, Fleet Manager

So, what do you do when the truck is running out of power and customers are waiting for deliveries? A creative solution was needed, and a quick decision was made to go ahead and use the charging station for cars anyway. Twenty minutes and a creative parking solution later, the truck was successfully charged and ready to travel to Randers, where seven customers were waiting for deliveries.

After a long and productive day, another charging session was needed to return to Vamdrup, and Palle and Keld drove back to the charging station they’d used earlier that day in Aarhus. They took a 30-minute break and made another discovery.

Lack of basic facilities

When our drivers take a break, they need proper facilities. Anyone who has ever been on the road for a long time knows the basic requirements, whether that’s a convenience store at which to buy food and drinks, or something as simple as proper toilet facilities. As it stands today, this isn’t a problem at regular gas stations. There are plenty of facilities that make it optimal for drivers to take a break—but these facilities aren’t currently available at charging stations.

While it may sound simple, this is a significant lack that greatly affects the quality of the drivers’ breaks, especially as they have to wait for the truck to be sufficiently charged before they can continue. This is valuable time that should be spent resting, relaxing, or getting something to eat and drink.

An ambition that requires more than will

After a full day on the road in a Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 electric truck, the conclusion points in several directions. According to Palle Albertsen, there is both great interest in electric trucks and a broad consensus that they are the way forward for H. Daugaard. Unfortunately, there are external circumstances that currently influence when that ambition can be realised. Among other things, he believes there is an urgent need to build dedicated truck charging stations that are designed specifically for trucks and meet the needs of the truck drivers:

‘The infrastructure needs to be developed quickly to meet the specific requirements and needs of our truck drivers using electric trucks. There is currently a shortage of chargers for trucks, and this is a significant part of the challenge.’
– Palle Albertsen, Fleet Manager

That said, while there are several challenges that remain to be solved in order to implement electric trucks, H. Daugaard maintains its ambition of replacing our diesel trucks with electric ones. This it requires changes not only in our company, but also in the Danish infrastructure.

Read more about how H. Daugaard is working towards more green power.