Mercedes-Benz will soon be offering the fully electric eCitaro G articulated bus. The special feature: The drive gets its energy from solid-state batteries. Widespread series use of vehicles with the new battery type is not expected until the middle of this decade. Mercedes is faster on buses, but the technology still has disadvantages.
According to the Swabian manufacturer, the new eCitaro G, which is “about to be rolled out”, is the world’s first series-ready city bus in its category with solid-state batteries. The energy storage would be characterized by a very high energy density. It is around a quarter higher than the next generation of classic lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolyte. The result is an energy content of 441 kWh for the new eCitaro G.
Mercedes emphasizes that the new battery technology is free of the controversial raw material cobalt and therefore more environmentally friendly to manufacture. The company also points out the long service life of solid-state batteries. An essential component when buying a suitably equipped eCitaro is therefore a standard basic guarantee for the high-voltage battery for up to ten years or up to 280 MWh of energy throughput per battery pack.
Solid-state batteries have not yet made it into series production despite their promising properties several reasons. One of them is that the technology has limited rapid charging capabilities. With the eCitaro, Mercedes is therefore offering a new generation of the lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide battery cells (NMC) used so far. Unlike the current solid-state batteries, they are suitable for high charging currents during high-performance charging and, with their energy density, also enable a large range.
The new generation of NMC batteries used by Mercedes has a larger capacity: With around 33 kWh instead of the previous 24 kWh per battery module, a total capacity of 396 kWh is possible with a maximum configuration. According to Mercedes, the new prismatic NMC batteries are geometrically identical to the batteries currently in use and have the same connections. Transport companies could therefore increase the range of their existing eCitaro if the battery was replaced later.
Mercedes is still silent on the range of the eCitaro G with solid-state batteries that will soon be on the streets. So far, there is also no information on the possible e-kilometers per charge with the new NMC batteries. Currently, according to Mercedes, the eCitaro with a total capacity of up to 292 kWh can drive around 170 kilometers under difficult conditions in summer or winter, and around 280 kilometers under ideal conditions.