April 20, 2018, 10:43 pm
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VW looking into future as it develops electric truck powertrain

VOLKSWAGEN is not new to making trucks and buses. But its partnerships with truck experts like MAN and Scania for developing powertrains and whole truck systems has given it a new edge and now it is going for the electrification of its whole commercial vehicle line-up.

VW officials recently revealed that the German automaker is leveraging its research and development into technologies to develop its electric vehicle investments for powertrains for its trucks and buses.

Some $1.7B investment into the technology over the next 5 years to go into the revitalization of Volkswagen’s trucks and buses with autonomous driving and Cloud-based technologies, all these hinge on the electrification of their whole line up.

During a presentation at a company event called ‘Innovation Day’ in Hamburg a month ago, several VW executives presented new electric truck and bus initiatives. Included was the world premiere of the VW electric distribution truck, the e-Delivery.

“The e-Delivery marks a milestone in the history of VW Trucks and Buses (Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus). This is a brand-new platform that was developed in Brazil with the aim of offering new mobility alternatives to large cities,” Roberto Cortes, CEO of MAN Latin America said.

Engineers from MAN and Scania will be testing the module on pre-series production versions of a city bus that runs on electric batteries (battery-powered electric vehicles or BEV) under everyday conditions in several European cities. Series production of these electric buses is due to start before 2020. 

Both brands can already offer comprehensive advice on introducing electric mobility solutions, along with the necessary charging requirements for electric buses, to bus operators and communities. As part of this endeavor, the focus is on being able to offer a variety of options, such as charging the buses overnight in depots or charging mid-route at bus stops.

The e-Delivery is a modern truck for urban logistics designed to improve sustainability in the delivery of goods. It will be built at VW Trucks and Buses division in Brazil in 2020. 

And as far as heavy-duty electric trucks are concerned when long-haul transportation must be met by the capacities of modern-day battery technology, there is still has a serious hurdle to overcome—meeting the necessary energy requirements would disproportionately reduce load capacity. 

However, alternatives do exist. 

These include combustion engines powered by gas or biodiesel. Running engines on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a solution that holds great future potential for long-haul transportation. The future is looking rosy for this technology in long-haul transportation thanks to LNG’s high energy density and the resulting considerable range of 1,000 km. Scania presented the first LNG truck in EURO VI back in 2014. An LNG campaign was launched in September 2017 in cooperation with Volkswagen’s Group Logistics.

Initiatives are also under way to find a different way to electrify heavy-duty trucks to make sure that their range and load capacity can become suitable for long-haul traffic. The buzzword for this area of development is “e-road,” which focuses on the use of overhead power lines, as in the rail sector. Trucks powered by overhead lines can run with zero emissions, and any batteries can be charged depending exactly on how many emission-free kilometers still lie ahead. A test route for electric Scania trucks already exists in Sweden. Test routes have also been announced in Germany.

Drive systems of the future will not be uniform, since their aim is to achieve an intelligent transition from diesel engines to alternative drive systems and fuels. 

“Volkswagen Truck & Bus has announced its aim of becoming number one in the field of alternative drive systems. The company already has a broadly diversified portfolio, which offers the best possible foundation for this endeavor,” Andreas Renschler, VW AG Board of Management executive with responsibility for commercial vehiclesexplained. (RAYMOND G.B. TRIBDINO)
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