Europe To Get Electric Trucks Next Year; the U.S. Later
Last year, beverage industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that, by 2025, it would purchase only 100 percent renewable electricity; proving that corporations are beginning to realize that fish don’t drink beer and rising sea levels could be very bad for business. This year, InBev followed that commitment by placing an order to receive 40 of Tesla’s new electric semi-trucks (whenever Tesla gets around to making them). But Tesla is not the only automaker looking to capitalize on the green corporate shift.
Volvo’s not saying which model, but here’s one likely candidate already in the city
Not to be outdone by the playground upstart, industry giant Volvo Group announced this week that it will also sell electric trucks in North America; but it’s not saying when. While Europe will get electrified medium-duty Volvo trucks in 2019, the auto maker has not released a firm timeline for bringing its trucks across the pond.
“By using electrically powered and quieter trucks for goods transport in urban areas, we meet several challenges simultaneously,” said Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks. “Without disturbing noise and exhaust gases, it will be possible to operate in more sensitive city centers.”
Urban Delivery Focus
However, urban truck mobility is not the only positive electrified trucks would bring. Less noise means trucks can operate during more hours of the night, reducing the number of trucks on city roads during daytime rush-hour traffic.
The first electric semis will likely be found making short runs in town
Electric range and mandatory recharge periods could also help prevent driver fatigue, a problem that has been blamed for causing many accidents involving semi-trucks. But the path to electrified product transportation could be a long one; especially in the U.S.
“Enabling long-term sustainable transport is a complex issue that requires a holistic and wide range of measures,” said Jonas Odermalm, Head of Product Strategy for Medium Duty Vehicles at Volvo Trucks. “We are working closely with customers, cities, suppliers of charging infrastructure and other key stakeholders to create the necessary framework for electrical trucks.”
Potential range, powertrain specifications and price have not yet been released.
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The Future of Bedroom Posters
What makes a car truly special is its ability to capture the hearts and minds of children who grow up dreaming of future ownership. Bedroom posters and magazine cutouts (or maybe a video game recreation) elevate a car and solidify its place in history. So far, however, electric cars have not excited the inner nine-year-old in many car enthusiasts. I don’t think very many children have a Fiat 500e poster on their bedroom wall, or spend hours building a Chevy Bolt in Need for Speed. Even Tesla, which makes some of the fastest production cars in the world, seems a bit reserved and boring at times.
An electric supercar from Lamborghini
But the king of bedroom posters has seen the problem and teamed up with two laboratories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create a new, fully-electric, supercar concept called the “Lamborghini of the Terzo Millennio”. Named the “Third Millennium,” Lamborghini has set its sights on the future of the super sports car in five different dimensions: energy storage systems, innovative materials, propulsion system, visionary design, and emotion.
Taking Off in Five Dimensions
MIT will be in charge of solutions for the first two dimensions of future Lamborghini: energy storage systems and innovative materials. As a solution for the former, the Terzo Millennio will be powered by supercapacitors rather than traditional batteries; and, as if the engineers didn’t already have their hands full, the supercapacitors will be made from carbon to allow rapid charge and more power capacity.
Coming soon to walls everywhere–a quiet supercar
According to Lamborghini, both the Dinca Research Lab and the Mechanosynthesis Group at MIT are substantially financed by the auto maker. They will surely need every penny as Lamborghini claims that its new hyper car will have the ability to detect and repair cracks in its own bodywork; a claim that would make it the first self-healing car.
“Collaborating with MIT for our R&D department is an exceptional opportunity to do what Lamborghini has always been very good at: rewriting the rules on super sports cars,” said Stefano Domenicali, chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, which is now part of Volkswagen Group’s Audi Division. “We are inspired by embracing what is impossible today to craft the realities of tomorrow: Lamborghini must always create the dreams of the next generation.”
The design, as should always be the case, has been left to the Italians. And although the Terzo Millennio is still only a concept vehicle, past creations like the Sesto Elemento have proven that glowing red wheels and a cockpit almost over the front axle are no problem for the crazy engineers behind the fighting bull.
California Got It First; Now it Goes Wide
Despite its reputation for palm trees and sunny beaches, California is home to many pickup trucks, second only to Texas. It’s probably because the middle of the state grows most of the country’s food. But with a new 12 cent gas tax being implemented this month, and a general upward trend in fuel costs, some farmers and others might be looking to save some money in the long run. Could expanded availability of hybrid technology be the answer?
GMC adds a little electrification
GMC recently told The Car Connection that it will be offering its Sierra pickup truck with light electrification that it calls eAssist nationwide. The Sierra eAssist will be available in 2018, expanding a market that started in California two years ago. The hybrid option is available on a limited number of two-wheel drive Sierra SLT crew cab pickups.
Light electrification is the correct way to describe GMC’s hybrid system, as it is essentially a glorified stop-start system. Similar to hybrid systems found in other GM vehicles, eAssist combines a compact induction motor with an air-cooled, 0.45kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
The primary function of the system is to allow for longer engine shut-off when the vehicle comes to a stop. At a red light or in traffic, for example, eAssist allows the engine to shut off and eliminate wasteful fuel consumption. The battery pack continues to power the lights, heating and cooling, electrical accessories and more.
While the system is not really designed to add power to the Sierra’s 5.3-liter V-8, it can still provide up to 13 horsepower and 44 pounds-feet of torque, usually when accelerating from a standstill. The added power of the electric motor also allows Sierra’s Active Fuel Management system to run the V-8 engine in four-cylinder mode for extended periods of time.
California got the hybrid first–natch
While the new Sierra eAssist will by a hybrid, it is still a very heavy, V-8 powered truck. And as a result, fuel consumption is EPA-estimated at 18 mpg city/24 highway/20 combined, a two mpg increase from the standard Sierra V-8 across the board (although that will be an 11 percent boost). While not the largest increase in fuel economy, eAssist will still help truck owners save fuel, especially when towing heavy loads.
Pricing for the Sierra eAssist has been a mere $500 bump from the standard Sierra. In addition, as is typical with General Motors, the eAssist option will be available on the Chevrolet Silverado (sister truck to the Sierra).
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Electrified Powertrain Saves Fuel & Can Provide Power
Power outages are annoying; everyone knows this. Whether caused by unfortunate weather or mandatory maintenance, living without power can become highly inconvenient for those of us who choose to live in or around civilization. Flashlights are always out of batteries, and millennials hardly even know what a candle is.
The California energy provider, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, along with Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated (EDI), think they may have a solution to power problems everywhere, in the form of the utility industry’s first plug-in diesel-electric hybrid (PHEV) Class 6 truck.
The vehicle, developed by EDI with input from PG&E, features a PHEV drivetrain that is capable of up to 50 miles of all-electric driving with an additional 300 more miles of driving range in hybrid mode. The result is a diesel-powered Peterbilt Class 6 truck that can reduce emissions by 80 percent when compared to conventional vehicles of the same class.
The Power Play
However, the truck’s party piece is its ability to export power at a capacity of up to 160kW. By utilizing the power of its on-board batteries, this truck can give power to upwards of 125 homes, potentially eliminating planned outages and shortening unplanned outages.
PG&E Plug-in Hybrid Truck
“These cutting-edge trucks not only will help us reduce our fuel costs as well as our carbon footprint, but in the event of an outage, we would be able use their exportable power capacity to supply electricity to homes and businesses,” said Dave Meisel, senior director of transportation and aviation services for PG&E. “Being able (to) partner with a company that operates a manufacturing plant in the heart of our service area will also help us meet our goal of creating economic vitality in the communities we are privileged to serve.”
According to PG&E, the PHEV trucks are expected to cut operational fuel costs by up to 75 percent when driving in all-electric mode during typical daily fleet routes of up to 40 miles.
PG&E has already taken delivery of two trucks and, for day-to-day use, will likely use the flat-bed trucks to haul large materials to and from job sites. After recent scrutiny into potential connections with the Napa wildfires (and general public disapproval), PG&E could really use a win in the public relations column, and this new truck could be just what they need to show that the company is changing.
Mitsubishi Fuso Brand Medium-Duty Work Truck
For the most part, anyone interested in electric vehicle (EV) technology has been focused on the evolution of passenger vehicles. Automakers like Tesla and GM have been front and center, feeling the love for their Model 3 and Bolt EV offerings. But is there another segment of the auto world that should be feeling some EV love? German auto giant Daimler thinks it may have the answer.
Daimler’s Fuso eCanter is the first all-electric truck
Recently, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), part of Daimler Trucks, launched its new Fuso eCanter truck in New York City. According to Daimler, the Fuso eCanter is the world’s first series-produced all-electric medium-duty truck.
When they arrive in North America, eCanter trucks will have a range of about 62 miles and a load capacity of three-and-a-half tons, according to Daimler. The powertrain will draw its power from six high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs with 420V and 13.8 kWh each. The battery packs are built by Daimler’s Accumotive subsidiary.
Compared to Diesel
According to Daimler, in comparison with a conventional diesel truck, eCanter trucks offer savings of up to €1,000 ($1,182) per 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) on operating costs. In addition to North America, eCanter trucks will be sold in Europe and Japan. While Daimler is only planning to produce about 500 trucks in the next year, it intends to start higher-volume production by 2019.
First on the list to buy three eCanter trucks is the United Parcel Service (UPS). Daimler is also offering eight of its trucks to New York City-based non-profits, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the New York Botanical Garden, Habitat for Humanity New York City, and Big Reuse Brooklyn.
Trucks can plug in, too, now
“Our new Fuso eCanter now addresses the increasing global demand for products to meet and exceed high CO2 emission standards,” said Marc Llistosella, president and CEO MFTBC and head of Daimler Trucks Asia. “It offers an attractive and cost-effective alternative to combustion engines and makes electric trucks key to the future of inner city distribution.”
In fact, electrified commercial vehicles have been a hot topic this past year. With the launch of all-electric vans from Chinese-backed California startup Chanje; Tesla’s announcement that they will build a fully electric long-haul semi; and diesel engine maker Cummins announcing that it will starting offering an electric powertrain option; there seems to be a general consensus that demand for electrified commercial vehicles is out there. And then there are the fuel cell electric trucks like Toyota’s prototype.
Despite being called “cost-effective,” pricing for eCanter trucks is still vague, but should be clarified sometime next year.
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