PORTLAND — Daimler AG unveiled on Wednesday an all-electric big rig truck it promises to have in production in 2021, as the German automaker mounts a major challenge to European manufacturers and Tesla Inc.

Daimler said the Freightliner eCascadia, with a range of up to 250 miles (402.34 km) and an 80,000 lb. (36.29 ton) gross combined weight, will be suitable for regional distribution and port shipments.

Daimler also unveiled a medium-duty Freightliner eM2 106, with a range of up to 230 miles, designed for local distribution, food and beverage delivery, and "final-mile" logistics services.

Daimler said it will deliver 30 vehicles to customers later this year for field-testing and expects to have the trucks in production by 2021.

The announcement came after Daimler's trucks division said it has set up a research and development center for autonomous driving in the United States, the latest sign of the German manufacturer's commitment to getting self-driving freight trucks on the road.

Martin Baum, head of Daimler Trucks and the Daimler Buses Divisions, in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday. Photo credit: REUTERS

Engineers at the new center in Portland, Ore., will draw on r&d resources at Daimler Trucks operations in Germany and India to create a global network of hundreds of specialists in the autonomous driving sphere, the company said on Wednesday.

Daimler will invest more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in r&d at its truck operations by 2019, with more than 500 million euros earmarked for electric heavy-duty commercial vehicles, connectivity and self-driving technology, including the new Portland r&d center, it said.


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