By Eric M. Johnson and Ilona Wissenbach
FRANKFURT/PORTLAND (Reuters) - Daimler AG
Daimler said its Freightliner eCascadia, with a range of up to 250 miles (402.34 km) and an 80,000 lb (36.29 tonne) gross combined weight, will be suitable for regional distribution and port shipments.
Daimler also unveiled a medium-duty Freightliner eM2 106, with a range of up to 230 miles, designed for local distribution, food and beverage delivery, and "final-mile" logistics services.
Daimler said it will deliver 30 vehicles to customers later this year for field-testing and expects to have the trucks in production by 2021.
The announcement came after Daimler's trucks division said it has set up a research and development centre for autonomous driving in the United States, the latest sign of the German manufacturer's commitment to getting self-driving freight trucks on the road.
Engineers at the new facility in Portland, Oregon, will draw on R&D resources at Daimler Trucks operations in Germany and India to create a global network of hundreds of specialists in the autonomous driving sphere, the company said on Wednesday.
Stuttgart-based Daimler will invest more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in R&D at its truck operations by 2019, with more than 500 million euros earmarked for electric heavy-duty commercial vehicles, connectivity and self-driving technology, including the new Portland facility, it said.
"We are pioneering technologies across the automated vehicle spectrum that make roads safer and help trucking companies boost productivity," said Sven Ennerst, head of truck product engineering at Daimler.
The announcement was made during the Daimler Trucks Capital Market and Technology Day at Portland where the division already has a significant R&D presence including a heavy-duty truck wind tunnel.
Daimler also plans to expand its line-up of battery-powered trucks to help comply with tougher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rules in Europe, said Martin Daum, head of the division.
Serial production of the eActros truck with an operating range of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) will start in 2021, said Ennerst, citing tests with other models including the eFuso and eCanter trucks.
A presentation revealed that Daimler has plans for more than a dozen further electrified trucks worldwide, including the new eCascadia model for North America to compete with Tesla's
Separately, Daimler Trucks expects a strong second half of the year but second-quarter business remains challenging, its finance chief said, citing problems in the supply chain.
"Q2 will be challenging but we see a strong second half of the year," Jochen Goetz said.
"We are currently facing some problems on the supply chain, we will not lose a single truck but some (trucks) might be invoiced in Q3."
A new efficiency programme will not be needed, Goetz said, adding the truckmaker would focus on executing its previous savings plan and aim to lower costs by 1.4 billion euros as planned by 2019.
(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt; writing by Andreas Cremer; editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)
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Updated Date: Jun 07, 2018 03:05:09 IST