Stuttgart - Flensburg (800 km)
Cwmbran - Dundee (500 km)

Pilot 4 of the ESCALATE project will see Electra Commercial Vehicles build a 40-tonne drawbar battery electric vehicle in the UK. The vehicle will contain electrically refrigerated bodies, electric tail lift, innovative photovoltaic panels incorporated into the roof, and components designed specifically for the project. The requirements of the project are to achieve a range of 800 km without re-charging, and an average daily distance of 500 km in normal use. This will be demonstrated over 2 routes, in both the UK and Germany. Electra will integrate components from consortium partners and leading global suppliers, and participate in constructing a digital twin of the vehicle.

Main objectives

Challenge: The challenges faced by vehicle manufacturers with electric propulsion systems are to provide a balance between required range, payload, reliability and total cost of ownership. Our challenge in this project is to bring these elements together using optimised and modular components. 

Innovation: The Electra pilot vehicle will include a modular battery system specially designed for the project, and latest technology solar panels to contribute to the energy requirements of all on-board systems. Electra will carry out the hardware and software integration of all components.

Range: 800 km without recharging, and a daily duty cycle of 500 km in real world conditions.


Vehicle: The pilot vehicle will be based on the proven Electra eStar platform, consisting of 3 axles (centre e-axle), with refrigerated body and electric tail lift. The trailer will also be 3 axles, refrigerated body and tail lift. 

Components: Accelera 17Xe e-axle with integrated inverter, Electra auxiliary frame with compressor and power steering pumps, on-board chargers, battery thermal management system, Accelera iBCR ‘chopper’ electric retarder. 

Energy: Approx 1000 kWh batteries supplied by BRING, photo-voltaic cells on the entire roof area.

Charging & Refueling: The vehicle is equipped with DC fast charging and photo voltaic panels over the entire roof area to maximise the amount of charge able to be generated while driving. 

Key Performance Indicators:

With the batteries being supplied by consortium partner BRING, latest technology solar panels, and a prototype e-axle supplied by Accelera, Electra aims to optimise the power control system to achieve high efficiency levels.

To overcome the problem of range anxiety for drivers and end users, it is proposed to achieve 800 km, fully loaded, on a single charge. This would have to be driven over 2 days due to drivers’ hours restrictions, but there would be no intermediate charging.

his KPI is in line with optimising the power consumption, regenerative braking and input from the solar panels to achieve the least energy consumption possible in daily operations. Daily operations will be considered to be 500 km.

The total cost of ownership is an important factor considered by potential end users.


There are two test routes planned – one in Germany (800 km) and one in the UK (500 km). For the 800 km route, the starting point is the Daimler factory in Stuttgart, driving North to Flensburg, where there is a cold storage depot. Although the route is not finalised, there will be a mid-point stop, but crucially the truck will not be re-charged – it will continue without adding to its start point maximum charge, to demonstrate the total range possible. Arriving at Flensburg, the total charge used will be assessed, and re-charged ready to take on the trip back to the UK. In the UK, the route chosen will be from the axle manufacturers in Cwmbran, South Wales, to Dundee in Scotland. 

Start: Stuttgart (DE) & Cwmbran (UK)

Intermediate stop: To be determined

Finish: Flensburg (DE) & Dundee (UK)

German Route: Stuttgart – Flensburg

Pilot 4 Route

Great Britain Route: Cwmbran – Dundee

Pilot 4 Route 2

Technical Aspects About This Pilot

The vehicle will be tested on motorways, where high speeds with little opportunity to benefit from regeneration from the motor will push the stored charge and therefore the maximum range to its limits.

The vehicle benefits from solar panels providing extra charge while driving, and the pilot will provide interesting insight to quantify these against changes with the weather and the amount of light available.

The refrigerated body of the vehicle increases the total power consumption, further pushing the battery and solar capabilities to their limits. The trial will provide valuable insights into power consumption of refrigerated BEVs over long distances.