Mercedes-Benz continues to broaden its battery-electric truck portfolio with the eActros 300. Lucy Radley delivers her verdict on the new artic

There’s no denying it, driving electric trucks is great fun, so we knew that a day spent in Mercedes-Benz’ eActros 300 artic would be worth our while. It has been widely said that moving to zero-emissions vehicles means a huge change in mindset for all involved. For example, no longer will we be able to take any truck and ask it to do any job. Meanwhile, the word ‘specification’ will need to be taken far more literally than ever before, with tasks fitted to vehicles rather than the other way around – as we were about to find out.

With its claimed range of up to 220km (135 miles), the eActros 300LS is aimed firmly at distribution applications. Our test vehicle therefore came with the narrower ClassicSpace cab – and very few frills. It did, however, include Mirrorcam, along with Mercedes-Benz’ interactive Multimedia Cockpit, using two 12.3in screens in place of a traditional dashboard.

More importantly, the battery-powered artic was powered by an e-axle with two motors, delivering a combined 400kW of peak power and 330kW continuous, driven through a two-speed fully automatic transmission. In total, eActros 300 has three 112kWh nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries installed, a chemistry that gives a 90% usable capacity and, hence, 291kWh to play with overall. The pack will charge from 20 to 80% in 75 minutes when fed at its maximum charging rate of 160kW.


Our plan was to leave Mercedes-Benz’ Wentworth Park facility near Barnsley and run up the M1 to the M62, crossing the Pennines and then heading up the M61 to Rivington Services near Bolton. There we would plug in for 45 minutes at the UK’s only truck-specific charging point, before heading back. Behind us we pulled a standard triaxle curtainsider that was loaded up with 12 tonnes of concrete ballast – that’s approximately half the vehicle’s full payload, to simulate a diminishing load.

As ever with these trucks, which deliver maximum torque as soon as you touch the throttle, we pulled away smartly and settled in for what would be a noisy outbound journey, thanks to a howling headwind as opposed to any componentry onboard.

This vehicle was fitted with Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC), Mercedes-Benz’ GPS-guided cruise, optimised to achieve maximum range. In place of an engine brake, using the same stalk control, heavy BEVs such as this one come with a regeneration brake. As well as slowing the truck and holding a set speed running downhill, regen brakes actively recharge the battery, extending the range of the truck in the process.

It’s important to remember that electric range and diesel range are very different animals. A fuel tank is full, then it empties, so the range is fixed. Battery charge fluctuates, the vehicle drawing power back whenever it can. As a result, the predicted remaining range on the dash goes up as well as down. Where predictive cruise with an ICE looks to roll wherever possible to save fuel, eActros 300 looks to actively gain power by holding itself back on the regen brake as well.

The other big influence we needed to consider was driving mode. Again, in common with diesel trucks, we had a choice of three settings. Power mode was the juicy one, which we stayed away from the majority of the time. Economy, our main choice, allowed us 53mph and 80% of the available power, while Range limited us to 51mph and 75%. Go below 20% overall battery level and Range automatically engages.

On our outbound journey there were two main takeaways. In place of a rev counter, eActros has a gauge that points to left or right depending on whether charge is being gained or lost. Where gusts of wind might usually just be felt by the driver, this was sensitive enough that we could actually see the fluctuations in power usage as they hit us.

The M62 boasts some fairly major hills, especially climbing up onto the Pennines from either side and, while eActros 300 coped with those easily, we were surprised to find it holding lower speeds than we might have expected for the weight and conditions. To be clear, this isn’t a criticism – and it’s difficult to pin down whether that was a product of differences in gearing or torque – but it definitely caught our attention. Flicking into Power mode didn’t seem to change things, so perhaps it may simply be the former, combined with PPC seeking to conserve range.


Arriving at Rivington, we had 33% charge and 39 miles remaining, having started on 88% and 127 miles. Those numbers meant that the initial figures had proved accurate, despite the wind. Some 45 minutes on the public charger at 128.5kW gave us an extra 96.41kWh, equating to a 33% gain – a potential 48 more miles. We’re reminded, however, that the range figures are calculated based on what we did previously – and that involved a head wind for most of the journey. The figures should recalibrate as we’ll be using less power when the wind is with us as we return.

None of the manufacturers will sell you a heavy BEV without first undertaking a detailed consultation – and Mercedes-Benz is no exception. Even before getting that far, customers are encouraged to use a series of online calculators to check whether the application they have in mind is potentially viable for electrification.

On our return trip we decided to visit the edge of several industrial estates, in an attempt to simulate deliveries. All of them were within a few minutes of a motorway junction – and we wouldn’t actually stop, but we hoped to get some idea of the effect on range.

Leaving the services, our first ‘drop’ was at the very next junction on the M61, but immediately our plan looked optimistic – our range falling from 87 to 75 miles in far less distance than that. Having the wind behind us through Manchester eased things, however, and as the algorithm behind the predication updated, our range rose again, showing 78 miles once we reached junction 20 of the M60 – Stakehill Industrial Estate.

Five minutes later, we’re down to 68 miles remaining, despite having only made a fly-by-visit to our second destination. Climbing Windy Hill to Saddleworth Moor, we foolishly boost the power on overtaking using an extra mode provided for just such situations. As we crest the brow of the hill we have 45 miles left, exactly the same distance as stands between us and home. That’s exactly where we decide to head, having very starkly illustrated why consultation before deployment is so vital. It’s one thing to get behind the wheel and drive straight from A to B, but quite another to start adding multiple drops into that.

In reality, the run back to Wentworth Park was uneventful, thanks to some careful driving and regen brake use across the moors, under the instruction of our Mercedes-Benz co-pilot. Dropping down the Yorkshire side of the hills, we still had 44 miles of range and just 27 miles to cover, ultimately making it back to base with 10 miles range to spare, but we’d learnt a valuable lesson along the way.

Mercedes-Benz’ eActros 300 is most definitely fit for task, a pleasure to drive and a great illustration of just how far forward BEV technology has already come – we’d recommend it in a heartbeat. It does, however, come with a warning attached; the successful operators will be those willing to take a step back, listen and learn.

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