The all-electric Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck

Growing concerns about worsening city-centre air quality might eventually lead to severe restrictions for diesel-powered vehicles in municipal areas. Of course, such curbs would probably affect delivery trucks too, so manufacturers are starting to explore alternatives.

Using electricity as an energy source is the obvious solution. While hydrogen fuel cells are likely to be more suitable for long-distance transport work, rechargeable batteries could offer an appropriate solution for some multi-drop distribution operations.

Mercedes-Benz is taking the latter route for its Urban eTruck, which has been unveiled in prototype form. This new three-axle model boasts a gross vehicle weight of 26 tonnes.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck Prototype (2016) Front Side

Mounted adjacent to each of the middle axle's wheel hubs is a liquid-cooled, asynchronous, three-phase 400 V electric motor that produces 167 bhp (125 kW / 170 PS) and 500 Nm (368 lb/ft) of torque. They're connected to three lithium-ion battery packs with a total capacity of 212 kWh.

Maximum range is reckoned to be around 125 miles (200 kilometres). Although a regenerative braking system is fitted, those batteries also have to service ancillary components such as the power steering pump and the mechanical brakes' air compressor.

Fortunately, recharge times aren't too bad. Using a 100 kW plug-in charger, full replenishment of a completely flat battery set is estimated to take between two and three hours.

Going electric does involve a potential payload penalty, though. Compared to a diesel equivalent, the Urban eTruck is heavier by approximately 1,700 kg (3,747 lbs).

As for a production version, Mercedes-Benz is saying that it's “conceivable at the beginning of the next decade”.

Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck Prototype (2016) Chassis DetailMercedes-Benz Urban eTruck Prototype (2016) Rear Side

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