Launching the eActros 600

Daimler Truck has launched the long-range Mercedes-Benz eActros twice in 18 months. After a prototype showing at IAA Transportation in Hanover in 2022, the production unit was unveiled outside Hamburg in October 2023, and Lucy Radley was there

The eActros 600 will, we’re told, be the first European long-range BEV to go into series production, which is planned to begin at the main Mercedes Trucks assembly plant in Worth am Rhein after October this year. Sales in advance of this have already started. But the vehicle is already out there in a small way with some of the company’s customers – presumably those most likely to scale up in future – so they can, as Daimler CEO Karin Radstrom put it, “…start to feel they can rely on this truck”.

The most striking thing about eActros 600 is, as could be seen across social media on the launch day itself, its looks. But while the Instagram experts were having their fun, those of us of a more practical bent were seeing it for the aerodynamic triumph this thing really is. The most obvious gain to be made on this front is by taking advantage of the fact BEVs don’t need the same level of cooling as an ICE-equipped vehicle, so there’s no need for a large traditional grill. But look closer and it’s the smaller details which really impress.

The ProCab, as it has been named, is available in all the usual sizes, right up to and including the largest Gigaspace, but the line of the high roof has been visibly rounded out compared to the current version. Below the cab suspension line, the entire lower section of this vehicle is designed as one continuous section, running from the centre front all the way to the rear axle, with integrated side skirts covering the batteries and providing extra safety protection. The headlights and radar for the ADAS are combined in one unit as a ‘tech island’, and Daimler was particularly keen that we noted the grab handle built discretely into the three-pointed star badge up front and centre.


Getting down to the nitty gritty, eActros 600 is so named because it comes with a nominal 600kWh of battery capacity – actually 621kWh, installed in the form of three packs. The chemistry of these is lithium iron phosphate (LFP), widely becoming first choice for heavy vehicles because 95% of their capacity is usable. The more of a battery can be used, the greater the potential range, after all – in this case up to 500km between charges.

When it comes to motors, Daimler has had an e-axle for some time now. eActros 600 comes with a new 800V variant which has two electric motors with a continuous output of 400kW. This is combined with a four-speed transmission built specifically for this market segment. As with all electric motors, the torque curve has an early peak, in this case of 600kW, making pulling away and initial acceleration easy, even at full weight.

Talking of weight, one of the arguments against LFP batteries in smaller vehicles is that they are heavy. In the truck arena this is less of an issue, but still needs to be considered. Each 207kWh battery pack in eActros 600 weighs 1.5 tonnes, giving an overall weight of 4.5 tonnes for all three. The eActros 600 tractor has a kerb weight of 11.7 tonnes.

It’s also important to note that two-axle BEV tractors are allowed an extra two tonnes of gross vehicle weight without penalty to allow for this, so the 42-tonne gvw Daimler talks about in this context is equivalent to only a 40-tonne diesel. Confusingly, the 500km “proven range” is based on a physically 40-tonne tractor/trailer combination, although we’re told it is designed for 44-tonne operation. It is advertised as having a 22-tonne payload with a “standard” EU trailer, which a back-of-a-fag-packet calculation would point to a 40-tonne ICE equivalent again.

Make of all that what you will, but one thing is for certain – in its current form, it won’t be used at 44 tonnes in the UK. Not only does the eActros 600 tractor only have two axles, there isn’t actually room on the already 4,000mm chassis frame to add another and still be able to carry the batteries, and that’s before the weight of that third axle is taken into account. There is a school of thought which says the British and Irish attachment to 6x2 has had its day anyway, given tyre emissions are starting to be considered by legislators.


One thing which is crystal clear to everyone is that the kind of obsessive fuel efficiency measures seen across the industry today will only become more important in future. As well as aerodynamic improvements, this means that already familiar features such as predictive cruise control continue to be vital, although driver training to ensure the best use of features such as regenerative braking will also have a huge part to play in ensuring maximum range is achieved.

To this end, eActros 600 is fitted with Mercedes’ Predictive Powertrain Control, along with updated versions of its existing ADAS, namely Active Brake Assist 6 and Active Sideguard Assist 2. The latest iteration of the OEM’s self-steering Level 2 autonomous driving system, Active Drive Assist 3, is also an option.

But perhaps the biggest elephant in the room here – apart from a price tag up to 2.5 times that of its diesel counterpart – concerns the one piece of the puzzle which is outside Daimler’s control: charging infrastructure. The key to making vehicles like this successful is being able to fast charge them when needed, and preferably within the space of a driver’s 45-minute statutory break. However, a pan-European survey of Mercedes’ customers has, we’re told, shown that 60% of the journeys they are making are shorter than 500km, in which case their trucks would only need to plug in at either end.

Under CCS, the current charging protocol, eActros 600 can recharge in just one hour, but – and it’s a big ’but’ – it needs a 400kW charger to do that. For perspective, Mercedes tells us that it has been supplying 50kW CCS chargers to UK operators of its existing eActros 300 and 400 trucks, with some taking 150kW units. They do, however, also point out that 350kW chargers “are available”. Note, as well, that the one-hour recharging figure refers to charging from 20-80%, while the 500km range is based on 95% battery utilisation.

For the shorter charging times needed for long-distance BEVs to be truly viable, MCS – megawatt charging – will be the way forward, and this truck is equipped and ready for that, just as soon as it happens. The OEMs have, as has been widely reported, put their differences to one side in the name of faster development and rollout for this, but as yet there’s no date on the horizon. In the meantime, hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles are starting to emerge, Mercedes’ own GenH2 prototype tractor having completed a record 1047km run on a single fill just a few weeks before eActros 600 was launched. Who knows, it may yet prove to be a race to the line between the two approaches to decide which eventually becomes dominant.

Related content