Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA, with Brian Hard, president and CEO of Penske Truck LeasingDaimler Trucks North America (DTNA) has handed over the first fully-electric Freightliner eM2 to Penske Truck Leasing Corporation.

Following a nine-month collaboration with Daimler to produce and test electric trucks, the Pennsylvania-based third-party logistics provider took receipt of the vehicle in Los Angeles in December and will operate the medium-duty truck in the north-west of the US and California.

With a claimed range of 230 miles, the Freightliner eM2 is said to be well suited to last-mile deliveries. The truck’s batteries can be charged to 80% in approximately 60 minutes, according to Daimler.

“Penske is honoured to be the first company to put this new medium-duty electric truck into service,” said Brian Hard, president and CEO of Penske Truck Leasing.

Martin Daum, Daimler board member responsible for trucks and buses, added: “We aim to be front-runners with electric trucks. With the handover of our Freightliner eM2, we are now testing electric trucks in all segments in day-to-day operations with our clients worldwide.”

Penske Truck Leasing will be taking on 20 fully-electric Freightliner trucks this year, according to Daimler, comprising ten medium-duty eM2 units and ten eCascadia units for heavy-duty work. They will be among 30 electric Freightliners going into trials with vehicle operators in all. The remaining ten will be handed over to New Jersey-based third-party logistics provider NFI Industries. Series production of electric Freightliners is planned to begin in 2021.

“Early on, Daimler has started electrifying its trucks. Today, customers in the US, Japan and Europe already operate our battery-driven trucks [which are] almost noiseless and locally free of emissions: our lightweight Fuso eCanter which is in series production and our near-series heavy-duty truck, Mercedes-Benz eActros,” said Gesa Reimelt, head of the e-mobility group at Daimler Trucks & Buses.

“In collaboration with our clients, we are now going to speed up developing our electric Freightliner models, eCascadia and eM2, to optimise them for tough everyday operations – technologically and economically,” added Reimelt.

Daimler Trucks has also promised to reveal further news on its automated driving initiative at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.