Velocity EV
Rizon electric cabover in box truck configuration.

First of Daimler’s new medium-duty EV trucks reach U.S. shores

Nov. 1, 2023
The Rizon Class 4 and 5 cabover electric trucks are designed for various urban operations and qualify for California zero-emission incentive programs. Velocity EV expects to expand distribution of the Japan-built trucks to several other states in 2024.

The first 50 of Daimler Truck’s new medium-duty electric Rizon trucks have reached U.S. shores. They are available for fleet purchases and California zero-emission incentives, according to Velocity EV, which has exclusive dealer distribution rights in the U.S.

“I look at the Rizon as the most efficient pathway to compliance” with California and other states’ clean fleet regulations, Alex Voets, GM at Velocity EV, told FleetOwner.

Velocity expects to receive “low hundreds” of the Japan-built trucks by year’s end, Voets said. He anticipates receiving at least 1,000 Rizon trucks in 2024 and continuing to ramp up imports in the “low, single-digit thousands” over the next four to five years. More than 30 Rizon trucks were pre-ordered by California fleets, he said. 

See also: Daimler enters medium-duty EV race with Rizon brand

He noted that while he is bullish on EV trucks, they take longer to charge than it does to fuel a diesel truck, the heavy batteries use up cargo weight, and driving range is limited. “Those are all things that electric powertrains have in common. It’s just what it is—but it will get better over time. The benefit of Rizon is that all these downsides are kind of lessened.”

He said the Class 4 and 5 Rizon electric cabover trucks use smaller batteries that can use consumer-grade AC chargers, which can be installed quicker than heavy-duty DC fast chargers. And while the Rizon EVs are limited to about a 160-mile range, most fleets would use these trucks on shorter, regional routes. 

The battery-electric Rizon trucks are designed for local goods movement, urban deliveries, and refrigerated deliveries, Voets said. The vehicles can be customized with different body options, including box trucks and stake beds. Their tight turning radius makes them ideal for urban operations, he added. 

“We know this is a very demanding segment,” Karl Deppen, a Daimler Truck AG Board of Management member and head of Daimler Truck Asia, said in April when the OEM announced the new EV truck brand last spring. “Customers really rely on the daily operations of the truck. With the Rizon brand, which is truly built for business, we wanted to cater to the specific needs of that segment. That is different from long-haul transportation. That is different from heavy-duty applications.”

The smaller trucks can power up on AC chargers, which can be installed more quickly than industrial-grade DC fast-charging systems, Voets said. But they also can fold into more significant electric fleet operations with the more powerful DC chargers. Medium- and long-range battery configurations allow fleet operators to choose the best price-to-range option for their typical routes. 

California EV fleet incentives

Voets said he expects most of the Rizon trucks to be mostly sold out of dealerships in Los Angeles, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area this year. That’s because of how they are designed more for urban operations and because of California incentives. 

The California Air Resources Board designated Rizon trucks as zero-emission vehicles, making them eligible for the state’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project. This makes a $60,000 voucher per vehicle available to fleets for all four Rizon models: e16M, e16L, with a GVWR of 16,000 lb., and larger e18M, and e18L with a GVWR of 18,000 lb. To participate in the HVIP voucher program, fleet operators must work with an HVIP-approved dealer, such as Velocity, which submits the voucher request on the fleet's behalf. 

See also: Velocity dealers gear up for Daimler EVs

“By offering CARB-compliant, zero-emission trucks at a cost-effective price point, we are making it easier for fleets to make the switch to electric and comply with California’s Advanced Clean Fleet Rule,” Voets said. “Rizon trucks are available for test drives with our qualified e-mobility service team, and we’re confident that once fleet operators experience the power, efficiency, and safety features, they will want to drive a new Rizon truck off the lot.”   

As the exclusive Rizon distributor, Velocity EV has contracts with truck dealerships to sell and service the trucks. The only dealers with access to the Rizon trucks, as of late October, are Velocity Truck Centers, with sales and service locations in California, Arizona, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Nevada. As more dealers are signed up, Velocity expects its Rizon sales network to expand into Oregon, Washington, Texas, New York, and other states.

“The intention when we designed the Rizon truck was to take the best out of the diesel world and enhance it with zero-emission features,” Andreas Deuschle, global head of Rizon, said in April. “The cabover design provides superior maneuverability and visibility, and the driver will experience very smooth steering and easy handling of the truck at all speeds."

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