New Era for Freightliner eCascadia: Built on Customer-Centric Technology
Following on from the world premiere of the new battery-electric Daimler Trucks eCascadia designed and built for heavy-duty distribution haulage, the Freightliner eCascadia enters a new era from testing and validation to real-world customer applications.
The flagship truck, the Freightliner eCascadia, together with the Freightliner eM2, has already covered more than one million miles in testing on public roads while in customer hands. Now, with start of series production and customer deliveries beginning in 2022, the new battery electric eCascadia and its dedicated services, bring DTNA and their customers one step further towards CO2-neutral transportation. Daimler Truck (DTNA) says it is aware of the vital role transportation plays in helping to reach necessary emission reduction goals. As a result, DTNA has developed not only electric vehicle products but also made significant investments in infrastructure consulting, charging services and public charging infrastructure to strive for a more sustainable future.
DTNA says they are fully committed to reducing emissions from its vehicles, and the commercial transportation industry as a whole and has invested heavily in advanced technologies for its internal combustion engines. From 1998 to today, DTNA has reduced NOx (nitrogen oxides = gas/smog) in its heavy-duty diesel engines by 98 percent. From 2007 to present day, DTNA has improved fuel efficiency in the conventional Freightliner Cascadia, the most fuel-efficient heavy-duty truck on the market, by nearly 35 percent.
The new eCascadia provides Freightliner customers with a zero-emissions version of the Cascadia. Built off a legendary and proven product, the eCascadia’s extensive development and rigorous testing through several prototypes and customer test trucks has resulted in a powerful, efficient electric truck.
With multiple batteries and drive axle options, providing typical ranges of 230 miles, the eCascadia is ideally suited for short-haul routes that allow for depot-based charging, including last-mile logistics and local and regional distribution drayage and warehouse to warehouse applications.
Fully integrated battery-electric Detroit ePowertrain
The in-house developed Detroit e-Powertrain is designed for full integration with the eCascadia for maximum power, increased driving dynamics, and driver comfort.
The eAxle is an electric drivetrain component integrated with an electric motor, transmission and specialized electronics within a compact unit. Detroit’s e-Powertrain provides two eAxle designs, including a dual-motor with max torque of 23,000 lb-ft and max power of 395 hp, and a single motor featuring a max torque of 11,500 lb-ft and max power of 195 hp.
The Detroit e-Powertrain offers three battery options for a range of sizes and average, zero-to-full charging times starting with 194 kWh (one and a half to three hours), 291 kWh (two to four hours), and 438 kWh (two to six hours). Detroit HV Battery utilized Li-Ion NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) battery chemistry packed inside of CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited) prismatic cells. Li-Ion batteries enable the eCascadia to meet critical range targets without sacrificing payload. In addition, the eCascadia comes equipped with sensors throughout the vehicle to detect a collision and automatically open the electrical circuit for the high voltage system, shutting down the batteries and eAxle to avoid risk of electric shock or thermal event.
Detroit Connect services for eCascadia have been exclusively developed and the company says they offer features that allow for maximum uptime, productivity, and profitability.
An in-house developed Charger Management System (CMS) is integrated directly into the Detroit Connect portal. CMS provides reports about depot utilization, data needed for grant compliance and Low Carbon Fuel Standard credit reporting and can strategically save fleets money by leveraging demand-response incentives from local utilities. Additionally, CMS allows for staggered charging of multiple vehicles during off-peak-demand hours, and partial charging. CMS is optimized for use with Detroit eFill chargers and compatible with other popular charger models.
The eRange prediction tool automatically and accurately calculates and displays range throughout a proposed trip. To give the most accurate indication possible, the tool analyzes multiple data inputs, including vehicle parameters, load, weather, traffic, and road gradient. eRange Prediction allows for testing of “what-if” scenarios and performs an analysis.
Battery health monitoring tracks and gives visibility into the eCascadia battery’s state-of-health percentage, state-of-charge percentage, remaining range miles, and charging status.
The post-trip analysis gives actionable information to improve the eCascadia’s performance, utilization, and driver training. Users can visualize and quantify operational differences between trips based on actual trip data. In addition, outlying data is highlighted so that managers can quickly identify exceptional situations.
Initial release of the CMS solution will occur in Q4 of 2022. Additional CMS features will be introduced in 2023.
Detroit Connect’s traditional features are also available on the new eCascadia, including remote updates to reduce the need to stop and physically connect the vehicle to initiate firmware updates. Remote updates allow users to update one or hundreds of trucks from a single location.
Detroit Connect Virtual Technician provides remote diagnostic services that allow drivers to make informed decisions and discover issues before they occur to maximize uptime. When an issue is identified, Detroit Connect Virtual Technician sends an alert via email or the Detroit Connect Portal about the severity of the fault and how to resolve it. In addition, a virtual Technician transmits data directly to the Detroit Customer Support Center for analysis and support for a critical fault. A follow-up notification will outline the cause of the crucial fault, recommend parts to fix the problem, and provides the nearest service locations with the correct parts in stock.
The Freightliner eCascadia: equipped with state-of-the-art safety systems
The Freightliner eCascadia comes standard with the Detroit Assurance with Active Brake Assist 5 (ABA 5), setting the benchmark for advanced safety for heavy-duty electric commercial vehicles.
The release of the series production eCascadia marks the debut of a new Detroit Assurance safety feature: Active Side Guard Assist (ASGA). This industry-first technology engages at urban speeds (12 mph or less) and while the driver is still in control it mitigates the truck from making a right turn when a moving cyclist or pedestrian is detected on the passenger side of the truck. ASGA applies automatic braking along with visual and auditory warnings, and is ideal for busy urban settings.
The eCascadia will also be the first version of the Cascadia to come standard with Active Lane Assist (ALA). As another first-of-its-kind safety feature it combines Level 2 automated driving with a suite of driver comfort features. Steer Assist comes standard with ALA and consists of features that help drivers ease steering, especially in tight turning and backing situations at slow speeds. At highway speeds, Steer Assist helps drivers with steep crowned roads and cross winds by sensing and holding the steering wheel slightly off center to assist with lane centering. For example, in the event of a steer tire blowout, Steer Assist manages to keep the steering centered while the vehicle is pulled off of the road.
Detroit Assurance also features Active Brake Assist 5 (ABA 5) to mitigate potential collisions by calculating the truck’s speed and distance to other vehicles to determine if a warning or braking action is needed. ABA 5 can identify a person about to walk into the truck’s path, and issues audible and visual warnings with simultaneous partial braking, followed by full braking if the driver fails to react. Full emergency braking on tractor and trailer on moving pedestrians is a another first-of-its-kind technology in the Class 8 industry.
The eCascadia follows the same rigorous testing procedures that all Freightliner trucks go through. Validation processes include track testing for rough-road durability and safety events, high-mileage reliability, accelerated mileage testing on eAxles, charge cycle testing on HV batteries, torque and power performance testing on eAxles, climatic chamber for extreme hot and cold temperature testing, crash testing, summer testing in hot, dry, arid climates and winter testing on icy roads.
The Freightliner eCascadia: developed for real-world applications
Since 2018, Freightliner has deployed real trucks with real customers to run real freight in the real world covering a wide breadth of applications including drayage and local delivery, food distribution, and parcel delivery. Freightliner electric trucks have logged well over one million miles in day-to-day operations, pulling real loads and making real deliveries.
Comprised of over 40 battery electric Freightliner eCascadias and eM2s, the Freightliner Electric Innovation and Customer Experience (CX) Fleets have transformed the testing process by putting trucks into the hands of almost 50 customers to accumulate experience while performing in commercial vehicle applications.
The nation’s leading fleets, including Penske Truck Leasing, NFI, Hub Group, Knight-Swift, Schneider, XPO, Ryder, J.B. Hunt, and UPS, along with specialized fleets such as Loblaw Companies Limited, Sysco, Southern California Edison, Fastenal, Temco Logistics, Bison Transport, Core-Mark, Costco Wholesalers, Iron Mountain Inc., KeHe Distributors, Mondelez International Inc., US Foods and Velocity Truck Rental & Leasing, have all contributed to the development of Freightliner’s electric Class 8 and Class 6/7 trucks.
Participation in the Innovation and CX Fleets and being an active part of DTNA’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Council has provided those companies a chance to test the integration of battery-electric trucks into their own fleets and to share their learnings and experiences openly amongst all customers. Both fleets were supported by the South Coast Air Quality Management District which focuses on improving air quality in the South Coast Basin of Southern California and partially funded the project. The Freightliner CX Fleet was also partially supported by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
From collecting driver feedback, comparing the relative impact of driver behavior, temperature, weather, and weight between multiple fleets and duty cycle, to assessing wear, testing charging equipment behavior, and readying the service network, DTNA has gained tremendous operational knowledge that was applied to the production version of the new eCascadia.
The rigorous testing has revealed that powertrain and auxiliary components, thermal management and low voltage electrical are performing better than expected. One ePowertrain feature stands out from previous technologies: the importance of regenerative braking to maximize range. Across the pilots, the average recuperation ratio was 20-25 percent, with some drivers achieving even up to 30 percent.
Testing the electric trucks in real conditions with real fleets has validated and reaffirmed many of the expected benefits of electric trucking from reduced driver fatigue to minimal noise and vibration, and influenced the production version of the eCascadia.