Home Fleetwatch 2022 Daimler Truck Southern Africa enters the battery electric trucks arena

Daimler Truck Southern Africa enters the battery electric trucks arena

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The Mercedes-Benz eActros and Fuso eCanter battery electric trucks are now available in South Africa.
The Mercedes-Benz eActros and Fuso eCanter battery electric trucks are now available in South Africa.

By Patrick O’Leary

Daimler Truck Southern Africa recently chose Lanseria International Airport as the venue for its entry into the battery electric truck arena by launching the Mercedes-Benz eActros 300, comprising a 4×2 and 6×2 rigid along with a truck tractor variant as well as the eActros 400 6×2 rigid and eCanter range.

As many might know, it was in his 2020 State of the Nation address that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Lanseria would be the area where South Africa’s first Smart City would be developed. Well, apart from a pothole being repaired on the R512 which passes Lanseria, the launch by Daimler Truck of its first eActros models and eCanter range is about the smartest thing to have emerged so far since Ramaphosa’s announcement.

And why is this move a smart one? After all, the adoption of battery electric trucks is not going to be a walk in the park for there are numerous challenges that lie ahead before the wide-spread adoption of these vehicles will take place. The price alone will have to be tackled for these trucks come in at around three to four times higher than their current diesel counterparts. 

Maretha Gerber, President and Group CEO, Daimler Truck Southern Africa: “A significant investment from various parties as well as support and collaboration across the industry is required to make battery electric truck operations a viable solution in South Africa.”
Maretha Gerber, President and Group CEO, Daimler Truck Southern Africa: “A significant investment from various parties as well as support and collaboration across the industry is required to make battery electric truck operations a viable solution in South Africa.”

But, given what the world is experiencing in the way of climate change, there is no doubt that we have to move quickly towards a more sustainable future if we want any kind of a decent future for our kids and grandkids. Taking steps towards achieving such a future is the ‘smart’ thing to do and it is thus that despite the challenges, Daimler Truck is doing the right and the ‘smart’ thing. 

Speaking at the event, Maretha Gerber, President and Group CEO, Daimler Truck Southern Africa, said that the launch of the eActros and the eCanter in South Africa is a massive feat for the company.

“While we know that to reach our ultimate goal of offering 100% CO2 neutral products by 2050 will require various zero emission technologies, this launch represents the vital first step for us in building a sustainable future for transportation. We look forward to customer feedback to better support them as we tread new grounds,” she said.

Note her words “better support as we tread new grounds”. Yes, it is new ground and especially in South Africa where problems such as unemployment, a no-growth economy, load shedding, destroyed infrastructure, lousy politics and non-visionary politicians all add up to putting climate change on the bottom rung of the priority ladder. It is thus that Gerber and her colleagues have adopted a holistic view towards battery electric vehicles.

“A significant investment from various parties as well as support and collaboration across the industry is required to make battery electric truck operations a viable solution in South Africa, especially when it comes to charging infrastructure. DTSA welcomes initiatives – public or private – that contribute to EV charging for trucks as a catalyst for electric trucks adoption.”

Gerber stressed the point that for the wide-spread adoption of battery electric trucks in South Africa, it will be necessary for all parties – including local OEMs – to work together in overcoming and finding solutions to the many challenges that lie ahead. Government is also a vital party in future deliberations and may FleetWatch suggest as a start that the Government considers holding back on the Smart City plans and rather redirect that money into a more realistic role such as some form of subsidisation such as the scrapping of import duties on these trucks so as to get the move towards a brighter future started.

Charging infrastructure is one of the challenges facing the adoption of battery electric trucks in South Africa – especially on long haul routes.
Charging infrastructure is one of the challenges facing the adoption of battery electric trucks in South Africa – especially on long haul routes.


FleetWatch will take a more detailed look at the range in our next eMag and in the meantime, we salute DTSA on its vision of investing now for a brighter future for our kids and grandkids. It’s going to be a difficult path to walk but for those who have the guts to prepare and invest now for tomorrow, Daimler Trucks has stressed that they will walk alongside you all the way. And they have the battery electric trucks available right now to do so.

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