This week, Daimler subsidiary Freightliner is delivering its first two eCascadia Class 8 Trucks to Penske Truck Leasing and NFI to test commercial integration of battery electric trucks. As part of Daimler Truck’s global electrified truck initiative dubbed the ‘Innovation Fleet’, the eCascadia joins over 100 electrified trucks and buses from the company already on the road, including FUSO’s eCanter, Thomas Built Buses’s all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, and Mercedes-Benz’s eActros and eCitaro.
Revealed in June 2018 along with the medium-duty eM2, the eCascadia iterates on the foundation set by the original Cascadia line, the best-selling Class 8 on the market according to Daimler. In preparation for series production in late 2021, Freightliner has invested in multiple avenues to co-create the final product with customers. The company believes the collaborative nature of these partnerships will help them to better understand and address issues in the e-mobility ecosystem moving forward. Over the coming months, Freightliner’s Innovation Fleet will allow customers to test both the eCascadia and eM2 in the real world, with Penske Truck Leasing and NFI receiving 30 battery electric trucks in total.
The new eCascadia Class 8 Trucks will be used by NFI for drayage operations at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and for daily delivery operations throughout California’s Inland Empire by Penske Truck Leasing. When commenting on the plan’s specifics, President and CEO of Penske Truck Leasing Brian Hard indicated their Freightliner eCascadias will be making “multiple, daily store deliveries on a dedicated route” and take advantage of “recent investments in charging infrastructure in the South Coast Air Basin.” Hopefully these testing grounds will prove the practicality of electric vehicles in the heavy-duty trucking space and pave the way for further expansion.
This initiative is supported by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has provided the company with a $16 million grant. Executive Officer Wayne Nastri expressed enthusiasm for the announcement, stating that the South Coast AQMD is “excited to be a part of this groundbreaking project that will directly impact local Southern California communities, especially those disproportionately impacted by air pollution.” Nastri went on to encourage further large scale deployments of similar zero emission trucks in the region, which he believes will contribute to environment and health benefits across the state.