MAN Truck & Bus

Ein Lkw in den Bergen Ein Lkw in den Bergen

Facing the future with the electric lion

Reading time [5 Min]

They are clean and quiet, flexible and powerful: electric trucks could soon conquer the streets in modern cities. MAN is developing the right vehicles for this – and using practical testing to prepare for series production.

Mann lehnt an Lkw

Fill her up, please Bernd Stangl tests the MAN TGM 26.360E in Austria under real
conditions and has long become accustomed to the charging routine after his tours.
© Deniz Calagan

The spring sun is peeping out behind the mountain chains on the Salzburg horizon this April morning, as Bernd Stangl climbs the two steps into his cab and starts up a piece of the future. He has just checked the charge on his MAN eTruck, now the 50-year-old hits the start button on the dashboard and the tractor's range illuminates on the display in front of him: Stangl can travel 180 kilometres using the twelve lithium-ion battery packs.

That is fully sufficient for his planned route. Today Stangl is heading for branches of the dm drugstore chain in Salzburg on behalf of Austrian logistics company Quehenberger Logistics. He will be barely audible as he hums along country roads, manoeuvres the 26-ton vehicle through narrow streets and drives halfway across Salzburg city centre. Stangl checks the values on the display in the cab one last time. Then he pushes gently on the right-hand pedal and rolls off with a quiet hum.

After shaking up the automotive sector, the e-mobility mega trend is now also gathering pace in the truck sector. E-trucks could soon determine freight transport in modern cities – driven by political pressure, growing environmental awareness and leaps in technology. “The way we transport goods in urban spaces in future will fundamentally change”, believes McKinsey Consultant Jacob Stöber. He has many years experience of change in the mobility sector and predicts that around 30 to 50 percent of all distribution trucks and vans sold worldwide will be electrically powered by 2030.

Stöber is certain that the urban centres will play a central role in this process. This is where short journeys, strict regulatory provisions and dense branch networks all collide. “Electric trucks can demonstrate their benefits quite well in such an environment”, he says. E-trucks will in any case be able to drive into the city; their range is sufficient and they can always be recharged during intermediate stops. “The purchase can quite quickly be worthwhile for the users of electric trucks under such conditions”, states Stöber.

THE FUTURE IS ELECTRIC

MAN has long recognised this trend and has been advancing the development of e-trucks for years. “The future of passenger and freight transport in the city is electric”, believes Chairman Joachim Drees. He is convinced that e-trucks will score highly in conurbations with two properties in particular: they are emission-free and silent. This would for instance enable deliveries to also be made at night and thus relieve traffic during the day. A study by consulting firm PwC revealed that 75 percent of respondents were in favour of such concepts.

MAN has been testing its e-trucks in practice in Austria since the end of 2018. Bernd Stangl is one of the test drivers. He and many other test drivers put e-trucks to the acid test anywhere in the alpine republic. The Austrian Council for Sustainable Logistics (CNL), to which Stangl's employer Quehenberger Logistics belongs, made the decision to collaborate with MAN in testing electrically driven trucks at the beginning of 2017. The test vehicles from a small series are in the meantime rolling on Austria's roads.

The advantage of the field test: MAN and its customers can jointly gather experiences and together advance the optimisation of e-trucks. “We specialise in store supplies to multiple retailers and therefore rely on the fact that e-mobility will prevail in city logistics”, says Christian Fürstaller, CEO and owner of Quehenberger. “Our involvement in CNL ensures that our vehicles and accompanying services are developed in a viable direction.”

Our first experiences with the MAN eTruck are good. “The electric drive enables me to make very good headway”, says driver Stangl just as he steers the eTruck over the bridge into the centre of Salzburg. Stangl knows what he is talking about. He has been working as a professional driver for over 20 years. The last five of which he has been driving a conventional MAN. He was sceptical whether the range would be sufficient when he first switched to the eTruck. “We carefully plan our routes in advance”, he admits. His concerns have evaporated in the meantime. “This vehicle is totally suitable for my needs”, he says.

Lkw wird betankt

Simply routine Bernd Stangl has long since become used to recharging after his trips. © Deniz Calagan

Lkw auf Straße

Clean and powerful Initial road tests and experiences with the MAN eTruck are all good. © MAN 

Fully electric vans play a particularly important role when it comes to zero-emission transport.

Martin Pludra 
Head of Van Sales at MAN

The eTruck is an important building block in MAN's overall electric strategy. A second model is currently celebrating its premi.re in Berlin, 530 kilometres north of Salzburg. Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) has just introduced the first four MAN eTransporters into operation in the German capital. These 3.5-ton vehicles achieve 160 kilometres per charge and can transport up to one metric ton of payload between the Brandenburg Gate, Bundestag and Alexanderplatz.

“Our electric lion is made for the logistics of the last mile”, explains Martin Pludra, head of van sales at MAN. “Fully electric vans play a particularly important role when it comes to zero-emission transport, especially in conurbations like Berlin.” The investment can be worthwhile straight away for customers like BVG. A recent study by the Centre for Future Mobility from consulting firm McKinsey has just revealed that electric distribution vehicles have now reached cost parity with diesel vehicles, if the regulatory hurdles for diesel vehicles are not lifted and the cost of batteries continues to decrease as in the past.

“eTrucks give customers the opportunity to further reduce their total fleet costs”, explains McKinsey Consultant Jacob Stöber. The operating costs of the eTrucks is significantly less today than with diesel for a series of deployments. “In the next few years we expect an advantage for the eTruck in terms of the total cost of ownership for certain ranges of application – but this depends on the detail of several factors such as existing charging infrastructure or possible deployment routes”, stated Stöber.

NEW MODELS ARE ALREADY WAITING

The first new MAN CitE, which involves the complete development of an eTruck for larger and heavier freight, is already in the starting blocks. It only took 18 months from the initial sketch to presentation of the prototype at the IAA last year. There the CitE already showed what it is capable of: 290 kW output, up to 100 kilometres range, power for six tons of payload. Also features such as ergonomic entrances and exits on both sides or the newly developed 360-degree camera system. “Our response to the needs of freight and goods transport in the city”, says MAN CEO Joachim Drees.

Bernd Stangl steers his MAN eTruck back onto the forwarding agent's parking lot in Salzburg after an eight-hour shift. A 150- kW charging column is in the planning stage. Until then he can top up the eTruck with new energy using a mobile charging unit or even via conventional high voltage outlets. Stangl inserts the cable into the charging socket next to the driver's cab and inputs the data into the logbook. This has all become routine for him, for others it's still in the future. Even today, a colleague asked him again whether such an E-truck truly has sufficient range.

Stangl is becoming accustomed to such questions. “I always tell them that apart from the range there is hardly any difference to diesel trucks”, he says. “The only difference is that the eTrucks are quieter and have more traction.” His employer is similarly satisfied. In addition to the eTruck, he has also purchased three eTransporters from MAN. So three more of Stangl's colleagues will soon be driving electrically through Salzburg.

Text Thomas Schmelzer
Photos MAN (Header)

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