VDL Groep develops electric truck
VDL Groep of Eindhoven is working on developing a fully electric truck. The initial project is a 37 tonne truck, designed for relatively short distances of about 100 km on a single battery charge. The vehicle can then be fully recharged in half an hour with rapid charging. This makes the electric truck suitable for city distribution, such as supplying supermarkets and other large retailers. For the development of this truck VDL is making use of technologies they have previously developed for their electric buses such as e-drive, battery technologies and energy management strategies. The first electric truck is expected to be ready in early 2017.
At the same time, based on the same 37 tonne tractor, a vehicle is being developed with a hydrogen range extender. This vehicle has the added benefit of being able to drive longer distances. The batteries are recharged during driving using electricity generated by the hydrogen fuel cell. This combination allows for a larger radius of action. With the development of both electric vehicles, VDL is anticipating demand based on emission-free driving regulations: from 2025 onwards only zero-emissions city buses will be allowed in the Netherlands. In the future this is expected to apply to trucks too.
This electric truck project involves close cooperation with various partners in the areas of electric drives, battery technology and electric auxiliary systems. The base vehicle is a DAF truck, which will be electrified and modified by VDL. The basic engineering for the vehicles is being carried out by VDL Enabling Transport Solutions (VDL ETS), the company within VDL Groep that focuses on e-mobility and development projects in the field of innovative transport solutions. Both prototypes will be built in cooperation with VDL Bus Chassis of Helmond, where VDL ETS is located. The trucks will then be produced at the VDL Bus Chassis factory in Eindhoven.
Development is now in full swing. A fully electric concept has been in the making for several years, and with the technology that is currently becoming available the concept is now deemed feasible. In addition, the rapid charging methods have reached the stage of development that batteries can now be fully recharged in a reasonable amount of time. The first electric tractor is expected to be completed in early 2017, followed by the first electric tractor with range extender later in the first half of 2017. These vehicles will then be extensively tested and driven, after which they will be produced in small series starting in late 2017. In a later stage possibilities for other electric vehicles will be examined, including an 18 tonne rigid truck and other electric commercial vehicles such as waste collection trucks and container trucks with an electric hook system.