June 6, 2018 / 6:51 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Daimler sets up R&D centre for autonomous trucks in U.S.

* New facility to draw on Germany, India truck resources

* Included in 2.5 bln euro truck division investment

* Daimler to expand e-truck line-up to meet emission goals

* Eyes strong H2, challenging Q2 - CFO (Rewrites with plans for new R&D centre, executive comments and background)

FRANKFURT/PORTLAND, United States, June 6 (Reuters) - D aimler’s trucks division 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.

Engineers at the new facility in Portland, Oregon, 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.

Stuttgart-based 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 facility, it said.

“We are pioneering technologies across the automated vehicle spectrum that make roads safer and help trucking companies boost productivity,” said Sven Ennerst, head of truck product engineering at Daimler.

The announcement was made during the Daimler Trucks Capital Market and Technology Day at Portland where the division already has a significant R&D presence including a heavy-duty truck wind tunnel.

Daimler also plans to expand its line-up of battery-powered trucks to help comply with tougher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rules in Europe, said Martin Daum, head of the division.

Serial production of the eActros truck with an operating range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) will start in 2021, said Ennerst, citing tests with other models including the eFuso and eCanter trucks.

A presentation revealed that Daimler has plans for more than a dozen further electrified trucks worldwide, including the new eCascadia model for North America to compete with Tesla’s planned long-distance Semi electric truck.

Separately, Daimler Trucks expects a strong second half of the year but second-quarter business remains challenging, its finance chief said, citing problems in the supply chain.

“Q2 will be challenging but we see a strong second half of the year,” Jochen Goetz said.

“We are currently facing some problems on the supply chain, we will not lose a single truck but some (trucks) might be invoiced in Q3.”

A new efficiency programme will not be needed, Goetz said, adding the truckmaker would focus on executing its previous savings plan and aim to lower costs by 1.4 billion euros as planned by 2019.

$1 = 0.8490 euros Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter

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