Car reviews - Scania - 25P
Near-silent operation, seamless acceleration and effortless hill climbing, intelligent regenerative braking, ergonomics and ease of use, Scania feel of quality throughout
Room for improvement
Range a hurdle for many Aussie operators, pricing is more than double that of the diesel, two-speed gearbox can be rough on downshift, weight cannibalises payload
BEV trucking mightn’t make sense yet, but the Scania 25 P is a fine toe in the water
25 Sep 2023
By MATT BROGAN
SCANIA Australia recently imported three battery electric trucks for evaluation, the Swedish-built series production vehicles based on the traditional P-series cab and chassis, but with a mid-mounted permanent magnet electric motor in place of the usual front-mounted diesel.
Offering comparable power and torque – at 295kW (395hp)/2200Nm peak or 230kW (310hp)/1300Nm continuous – the electric motor is fed by nine lithium-ion batteries with a total output of 300kWh (a five-battery, 165kWh option is also available).
Drive is to the rear wheels of the 4x2 or 6x2 configured chassis via a two-speed integrated gearbox and recharging is via a CCS Type-2 connection with up to 130kW/200A DC charging available.
Scania says the combination should afford the 25 P, as it is known, as much as 250km range, making it ideal for intracity and municipal duties. The option of a 60kW PTO is also available.
Against its diesel-powered counterpart, the 25 P loses “between two and three” tonne of payload, accounting for the additional weight of the substantial battery packs.
Otherwise, the vehicle is almost identical in appearance and operation to the diesel derivative, operating silently and offering spirited acceleration, factors Scania Australia says will contribute significantly to the reduction of driver fatigue.
The Scania 25 P on test is equipped with the latest electro-hydraulic steering system to provide outstanding manoeuvrability in close quarters while delivering faithful communication at highway speeds.
Braking duties remain as per those of the diesel model but are assisted by five-stage regenerative braking via the electric motor, operated by the same Scania Retarder style system on the steering column’s right-hand side.
Aside from a mildly modified instrument cluster, that dispenses with the traditional tachometer in favour of a battery charge meter, the panel and interior décor is unchanged from the donor vehicle – including the same highly advanced driver assistance technologies like autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and (switchable) lane departure warning.
The 4x2 vehicle sampled in Victoria – and finished in Metropolitan Fire Brigade livery – will be fitted with a distribution body in time, Scania Australia first using to vehicle to gauge customer interest, and for in-house training purposes.
“We have brought these first battery electric trucks to Australia to evaluate their performance in local real-work environments, to see not only how they cope with our conditions, but also to experience and demonstrate the benefits of silent running and of course, zero tailpipe emissions,” said Scania Australia director of truck sales, Benjamin Nye.
“If operators can use green energy to charge the batteries of these trucks, their carbon footprint would be extremely minimal compared with a traditional diesel truck.
“In recent times we have seen a significant uptick of interest in the concept of battery electric trucks, not only for last mile deliveries, but also for a wider range of duties. The purpose of this first batch of trucks is to determine where their abilities would be best employed.
“We are very clear-eyed about the existing operating environment in Australia, our national energy generation strategy, as well as the total operating economy of a battery electric truck. While these issues are all in flux, the transition to a more sustainable transport system is underway.”
In Europe, Scania can provide a total package of operating solutions for customers keen to add a battery electric vehicle to their fleet.
Using the electric solutions concept, Scania will ensure the vehicle can be charged, operated, maintained, serviced, repaired, financed and insured, along with long-term and continuous advice and guidance from Scania’s electrification experts.
Scania says this solution is an all-in-one package, tailored to individual operations – with premium electric vehicles at its core.
As someone who has spent years employed behind the ‘wheel of heavy vehicles, I can tell you it is very refreshing to jump into the cab of a truck that is so quiet and free of vibration as the Scania 25 P.
Hand on heart I can say the vehicle is as quiet as the family SUV, the only noise evident coming from the working of the suspension, the radiator cooling fan (the same radiator found in the diesel model is used to provide battery cooling), and the wind rushing over the mirrors.
It is an uncanny sensation at the start. There is no “sweet spot” of torque to find, no gears to shift, no clutch to depress, and – unladen, at least – no brake pedal to operate, such is the intuitiveness of the electric motor’s regenerative power.
Pulling away from the lights the 25 P accelerates cleanly and with seemingly little effort, almost matching the pace of passenger traffic. There’s a shift felt at around 40km/h – when the two-speed gearbox finds its highest ratio – that offers a sensation like that of an automated manual gearbox. After that, it’s smooth sailing.
The 25 P is effortlessly managed in the cut and thrust of peak hour traffic, the retardation provided by the regenerative system adaptable at the flick of a switch to suit the stop-and-go nature of the various roads encountered on test. Just one or two clicks of the wand is enough to bring the truck to a gradual halt in most scenarios, a light application of the foot brake all that is needed to finish the job.
While we did not sample the 25 P with a load up back, we were informed that the higher stages of retardation are adequate to offer a similar effect – even when fully loaded. Using it without weight over the rear axle will “lock up” the rear wheels, much like a compression lock up would in a manual car.
The only real issue we found from using the system is from the two-speed transmission. It is a little coarse if rushed, say when a passenger vehicle invariably cuts into your braking space. But otherwise goes unnoticed. Scania will soon update its BEV truck range with a six-speed transmission we are certain will alleviate the issue, while also brining better performance and range.
Hill climbing is a non-event in the 25 P, the electric motor effortless in providing a massive 2200Nm on command. Yes, you can observe the range dip more substantially in undulating terrain – much like you would a diesel. The only difference being that you’re able to put some of that range back via regeneration, which is something that can’t be done in a diesel.
Like other Scanias we’ve experienced, the 25 P provides a calm and well laid-out cabin that provides sound ergonomics for those spending hours at the ‘wheel. It is also a breeze to climb in and out of with grippy aluminium steps and sturdy handrails.
The pedal modulation and speed-sensitive steering action of the truck are wonderfully communicative, allowing the kind of finesse that not only translates to a smoother ride, but that pays dividends on the economy front.
Add this to some electronic helpers from the instrument panel, are you are soon able to whittle down your driving style to achieve some pretty nifty averages – though again, these are hardly relevant in a truck with no load (the model tested can accommodate a 10-pallett load, a tare mass of 8900kg and a GVM of 16,000kg).
According to the panel, the 25 P averaged around 1.2kWh/km in urban running and 1.8kWh/km on the open road.
As Scania Australia themselves admit, the prohibitive price and lower range (and payload) offered in the 25 P is an obstacle that will take time to clear. Without governmental subsidies and adequate charging infrastructure the case for battery electric trucks Down Under is – at least for now – one that is largely null and void.
That said, the technology is moving in the right direction, and as it becomes more affordable, we are certain to see trucks like the 25 P performing a range of roles – perhaps cleaning the air a little for those that share and neighbour with the road – leaving the heavier duty diesel trucks to the roles that suit them best.
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