Mercedes Urban eTruck beats Tesla to the punch

Combined with Elon Musk's master plan, commercial EV trucks are becoming a when instead of an if.

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Well, here's some news to make Elon Musk hopping mad. Just one week after the billionaire founder of Tesla announced that the second part of his master plan would electrify heavy trucks and urban transit, Mercedes-Benz introduced the Urban eTruck, an all-electric semi.

The "urban" part of the Urban eTruck's name is important – this isn't a long-haul, over-the-road semi, but rather the kind of thing you'd see doing a regular route in a city. Maybe it's a garbage truck, or perhaps it belongs to a company dropping supplies at local businesses, but whatever the purpose, this all-electric truck is designed to operate over a relatively short radius and at low speeds.

To build an EV for these unique circumstances, Mercedes took a conventional "heavy-duty three-axle short-radius distribution truck" and ripped its diesel powertrain out. In its place, Mercedes attached an electric motor to each hub on the rear axle. Good for 167 horsepower and 368 pound-feet each, the gearing allows a claimed 8,100 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. That's a lot of twist, and it doesn't sound like it comes at the cost of range. Mercedes claims the 212 kilowatt-hour battery pack, which runs right down the truck's middle, gives the Urban eTruck a 124-mile range. That should be enough, the Germans say, to cover a day's worth of deliveries. The DC fast charge connector (SAE J1772 Type 2) cuts charging time to just two or three hours.

While the Urban eTruck is just a concept right now, its appearance – along with Mr. Musk's grand plan – is the latest sign that electrification is moving beyond consumer vehicles and into the commercial market.

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