Daimler building electric trucks to make online shopping greener

'CO2 emission is really zero'

By Michael Scaturro, CNN Business
Daimler via CNN

The eActros, produced by Daimler, has a range of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles).

(CNN) - Online shopping makes life easier for consumers but it can harm the environment, especially if you opt for express delivery. German automaker Daimler has found one way to tackle the climate crisis.

Moving packages from a factory to a warehouse and then your home often requires the use of gas-guzzling vehicles — and they contribute significantly to CO2 emissions.

Agora, a think tank, says that 38% of European road emissions come from heavy duty vehicles. Emissions from trucks and buses have risen at a rate of 2.2% annually since 2000, according to the International Energy Agency.

Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, says its electric eActros trucks can help on-demand delivery remain timely without polluting the air.

Gesa Reimelt, head of e-mobility at the automotive group, told CNN Business that the new eActros took about five years to develop and could be on the road by 2021.

"When you ride the truck the CO2 emission is really zero," Reimelt said. "Now if you look at the energy consumption, if the energy is green energy that is charged in to the battery, then it's zero as well. So this is huge."

The trucks, which are being tested in Germany and Switzerland, have a range of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles). Batteries power the drive system, as well as braking, power steering and air conditioning.

Potential customers are already expressing interest, especially as some cities in Europe ban large trucks from city centers.

"It's part of our philosophy to keep up with new technologies," Arne Rigterink, CEO of Rigterink Logistics Group, told CNN Business. "As a logistics company we have to think of ways to help nature and the environment."

Rigterink's company has some 400 vehicles, many of which ply local roads in order to deliver everything from pet food to fresh goods to supermarkets.

Daimler's Reimelt acknowledges that the e-truck revolution is only beginning. Trucks will have to travel distances of up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) on a charge before more companies will consider adding them to their fleets.

"If society wants e-mobility and if they want it fast, then charging infrastructure is really a topic," Reimelt said. "It's really a challenge ... and it would help if governments would invest in infrastructure."

But other companies are already getting in on the act. UPS said last year that it was going to develop a fully electric delivery truck with a range of approximately 100 miles.

— John Defterios contributed reporting.

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