Daimler Launches New EV Truck Brand for U.S. Market

The Rizon brand will focus on the fast-growing Class 4 and 5 medium-duty electric-vehicle segment.

Rizon initially will offer three cabover model variants, the e18L, e16L and the e16M. (Rizon)

Daimler Truck has launched a new brand, Rizon, dedicated to Class 4 and 5 medium-duty battery-electric vehicles for the U.S. market. Making its public debut at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Anaheim, Calif., Rizon will challenge established truck makers such as Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors as well as several startups in the medium-duty commercial-vehicle space.

“The U.S. has always been a very important market to Daimler Truck, and we are already very successful here, particularly with our heavy-duty trucks,” Karl Deppen, board member of Daimler Truck, said during a virtual launch event for media ahead of the ACT Expo. “However, this region also has immense potential as a market for electric vehicles.”

Deppen added that Rizon capitalizes on years of customer feedback and data amassed from Daimler’s existing electric trucks, including the Freightliner eM2 medium-duty truck, which will remain unaffected by the addition of this new brand, he said. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for the eM2 is 26,000 lbs. (Class 6) or 33,000 lbs. (Class 7).

Rizon initially will offer three cabover model variants, the e18L, e16L and the e16M, with a wheelbase of 175 or 187 inches (4445 or 4750 mm) and various body options such as dry vans, flatbeds, landscape dumps and reefers. Targeting urban retail logistics, last-mile deliveries and municipal work, the Class 4 and 5 BEVs range from 15,995 to 17,995 lbs. in GVW and feature an “OEM proprietary powertrain with eAxle” and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries supplied by CATL positioned below the frame.

“We have chosen LFP batteries as we think they provide to Class 4 and 5 truck customers the best combination of safety, durability, weight and range,” Andreas Deuschle, the global head of Rizon, said on the call with reporters. “Looking at the truck chassis, you will see a very robust crash-tested [steel] enclosure around our battery packs. We accept the additional weight of this safety feature as we are convinced that it is a must-have to reduce the risk of battery damage in case of side impact.”

Expected driving range is 110-160 miles (177-257 km) for 124-kWh L models with three battery packs and 75-110 miles (120-177 km) for the 83-kWh M variant with two battery packs. Rizon trucks are capable of being recharged by Level 2 AC charging (J1772) in 5-6 hours, according to Deuschle, and CCS1-compliant DC fast charging in 45-90 minutes. Consulting on AC and DC charging as well as factory-fitted telematics access will be available.

“We are in the process of making arrangements with Siemens to offer their AC chargers through the Rizon dealer network,” Deuschle said. “Rizon customers also have the chance to join the Detroit eFill charging network for DC charging.”

Rizon trucks incorporate advanced passive and active safety systems commonly used in Freightliner and Mercedes-Benz trucks, including Active Brake Assist, Active Side Guard Assist and lane-departure warning. The Rizon brand will carry what it claims is a class-leading warranty package protecting the powertrain, chassis and cab for 5 years/75,000 miles and the high-voltage batteries for 5 years/120,000 miles (as of April 2023).

“The Rizon trucks are the result of our engineering capacities and abilities coming from all our brands. For the EV, yes, we have some shared common components with other platforms,” Deuschle said. “It’s such a quick-developing market, each month there are new ideas and expertise coming. But for the U.S., it’s an exclusive design we are selling under the Rizon brand.”

Battery-electric is a better option for medium-duty vehicles compared to fuel cells, according to Deppen. “For this particular segment – Class 4 and 5 medium-duty – we believe at this point the balance from product costs, maturity of the technology [and] easy-to-use application, that the battery-electric vehicle is the solution,” Deppen said. “It offers low maintenance costs and an advanced package to move into zero emissions. Fuel cell is technically a bit more complex” and not yet ready for Class 4 and 5 vehicles.

Distribution arrangement

Start of production begins in August 2023 in Japan. Starting in Q4 2023, the Rizon electric trucks will be distributed in the U.S. through an exclusive agreement with Velocity Vehicle Group, which has around 80 global outlets. California and New York will be the first sale states, with other locations to follow. Velocity expects to have 50+ charging stations with 150-kW output each by Q4 2023, said Brad Fauvre, president and cofounder of the commercial-vehicle dealer group.

With sales consultants and technicians experienced in commercial e-mobility, Velocity will offer “one-stop-shops” for customers interested in purchasing electric trucks, Fauvre said. Velocity also will be appointing dealers for Rizon in areas outside of Velocity’s current footprint to provide a network across the U.S. Financing will be provided by Daimler Truck Financial Services.

Legislation and customer initiatives focusing on zero-emissions (ZEV) commercial transportation, along with incentive funding and tax credits in certain markets that help to ease fleets’ switching costs, are driving “attractive growth potential” in the medium-duty EV market, company executives said.

The day after Rizon’s launch to media, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on April 28 passed the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) Rule to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the state. The adopted rule will go into effect on November 1, 2023, with initial compliance for certain fleets on December 31, 2023. The rule sets a 100% ZEV truck sales target for 2036.