Daimler Takes Steps Toward Charging Network

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Daimler to Develop Charging and Hydrogen Infrastructure

Daimler Truck North America has revealed a $650 million collaboration to establish charging and hydrogen-fueling infrastructure for commercial trucks in the medium and heavy-duty categories.

The partnership, named Greenlane, was established in 2022 by Daimler, NextEra Energy Resources, and BlackRock Alternatives. The objective is to install charging and hydrogen fueling facilities at multiple locations along key freight routes, including those on the coasts and in Texas. The first location is set to be established in Southern California, as per Daimler’s official statement.

Although the precise location and launch date are yet to be disclosed, it’s worth noting that Daimler made the announcement about its plans to “push forward” with the project on the same day the Senate invalidated tighter EPA rules promoting more electric trucks, and just a few days before California’s decision to adopt its own Advanced Clean Fleets regulations, which endorse more electric trucks.

Daimler did not provide any specifics regarding the number of stations or the proportion between EV charging and hydrogen dispensing. However, the company stated that the primary emphasis will be on EV charging initially, with hydrogen stations and light-duty vehicle access following shortly after.

The charging and/or hydrogen stations will be constructed in both existing and new locations, with some being co-located with existing infrastructure. Daimler is also working on a “custom, commercial vehicle reservation platform” for users.

It’s worth noting that earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz declared its own charging network for cars and light-duty vehicles. However, due to the separation of Mercedes Cars and Daimler Trucks, these are now separate business endeavors.

Despite this, Daimler Trucks has already taken significant strides towards creating a charging network for commercial trucks. Last year, it formalized the Megawatt Charging Standard (MCS) and established one of the first megawatt-capable charging stations near its North American headquarters in Portland, which employs the MCS connector.

Preparing for that level of charging was an initial trial for charging stations throughout the country. For example, if ten electric heavy-duty trucks were charging simultaneously at one megawatt at a large truck charging station, the total load would be equivalent to that of a large industrial plant.

Tesla is not anticipated to use the MCS connector and has instead opted for its own V4 Supercharger standard. While Tesla Semi production began in late 2022, the company does not intend to establish a large-scale public charging network for commercial trucks, unlike the Supercharger network, which remains a trump card for Tesla’s passenger-car business.

In 2020, utilities, companies, and other stakeholders formed an alliance to establish a West Coast electric highway for commercial trucks, so it will be intriguing to observe if this effort parallels or complements it. Could electric truck operators soon have various charging options while traveling through California, Oregon, and Washington, where none currently exist?

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