The Commercial Auto industry is usually a slow-moving beast when it comes to change. You can look at how little has changed in CAT tractors, Class 8 Semi Trucks and other companies.
Recently change has started as Tesla showed off their own Electric Tesla Class 8 Semi Truck that has forced Paccar, parent owner of Peterbuilt and Kenworth Class 8 and more Diesel trucks to start investing in electric trucks.
Caterpillar has rolled out the first of some new Hybrid and Diesel-electric products over the last few years and now has their first fully electric tractor for select use in inner city construction. CAT biggest area of growth has been their Hybrid system where electric really shines as they have powerful electric drive trains backed by efficient diesel generators giving much longer time between maintenance schedules.
Yet even with the hybrid area taking off and all the talk of Hydrogen in Semi trucks, the future seems to be pure electric with solid-state batteries and as such, two of the biggest companies in the commercial space is making major change and growth.
We start with ZF of Germany, a large supplier of auto parts to the auto industry and now they are moving forward with a commercial portfolio of electric motors, controllers, etc.
We start with the ZF CeTrax 2 heavy-duty electric motor. This electrical drive unit has the following:
- Two high performance -oil-cooled e-motors
- Two integrated 800V Silicon carbide inverters
- Uses an advanced three-speed gearbox allowing the ability to powershift
- Weight of motor unit - 385 kg or 849 lbs
- Continuous power - 360kW or 483 HP
- Torque - 24,700 Nm or 18,218 lb-ft of torque
- Motor is aimed at commercial vehicles up to 44 tons.
ZF decades of building transmissions and other auto components has them ready to go commercial big time as a major global truck manufacturer will be using this motor in their new Commercial EV product line starting in 2023.
The next new ZF product is the eWorX, an electrified commercial Vehicle Power Take-Off (PTO) system to drive on-board work equipment. This is for those that take a basic cab/frame setup and add value as a body manufacture.
eWorX is a fully integrated system that combines all the functions required for electrification of work vehicles. This system combines all the functions required for electrification of on-board equipment in a single compact unit. Providing a known mechanical interface, eWorX supports the body manufactures by removing the need to deal with the drivetrain electrical system. This allows various body builders to plug n play depending on the type of equipment they are adding to the basic body/frame solution without having to touch the actual power train which facilitates easier operations in inner city and residential areas.
ZF has built an all-new Electric Power Steering (EPS) that will be the cornerstone of the 21st century. Building off their decades in building such units for the ICE Auto industry, ZF now offers an integrated e-motor to replace hydraulic fluid systems in medium and heavy-duty trucks. This system will also be the building block for next generation Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for commercial EVs.
One might ask why I would want to replace the Hydraulic steering systems that have worked so well for decades with an electronic one? Easy, drive by wire is the future where this system can be independent of the vehicles drivetrain and no need to deal with a liquid or leaking hoses. This unit can come in either 24V or 48V variants, meeting diverse packaging requirements.
This EPS unit is also ready for autonomous driving up to Level 5 per ZF and currently works with the ADAS system to support safety functions including continuous lane keeping.
ZF is aiming to not only support the rapidly changing personal auto industry but also the commercial space as more and more cities around the world move to emission free commercial autos giving city living a cleaner breath of fresh air.
For those wanting to see even more of what ZF is doing from cars to medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles and even buses and trains, check out their press page for coverage on the Global Technology Day and IAA Transportation day 2022.
Today many see the news and hear about climate change, quality of life and greenhouse gas. On top of this, many have seen the benefits of diesel trucks, but also have complained about the black toxic exhaust that comes out. Even with treatment to try and get the exhaust cleaner, there are still toxic elements that come out and then the smell. Not everyone likes the exhaust smell of diesel.
Many places have converted diesel buses to run on vegetable oil thus giving one a French Fry type of exhaust smell as some have said making them hungry while riding to and from work. Yet you still have the ICE system that has exhaust and a wide variety of fluids, noise, etc.
Many companies such as Mack, Kenworth, Peterbuilt from a commercial Class 8 / Medium Duty have announced products coming to replace diesel or even Hybrid diesel or CNG products in the cities.
Waste Management has one of the largest CNG fleets in the US for collecting our garbage in our neighborhoods and inner cities. Yet with this we still have ICE or internal combustion engines burning some form of gas / liquid and an exhaust.
Battle Motors, formerly Crane Carrier Corporation was formed recently when CCC was bought out and the new owners have a passion for a quiet exhaust free future. Battle Motors is moving to go from building the best Garbage and Delivery trucks to the Best Electric Garbage/Delivery trucks.
CCC was working on an electric truck but taking a very slow approach when they were bought out by the ex-CEO of Romeo Power who had called on CCC to buy their batteries for their future EVs. When Romeo Power went public, their CEO Mike Patterson took the opportunity to step down and focus on his desire to offer Commercial EVs and Mike bought CCC renaming it Battle Motors.
Here they sped up the development of an Electric garbage truck and Electric Delivery truck.
With this purchase, Battle Motors has done a $40 million dollar expansion of their New Philadelphia production site as well as tripling their production in Ohio as more cities are demanding quiet electric trucks to replace diesel/CNG.
The Growth of Battle Motors has allowed the company to not only raise an initial $120 million of Series A investment but this summer also a second Series B round of $150 million to support expansion of a complete Electric portfolio and charging network.
Battle Ground has acknowledged that charging is a challenge and as such, taking a page from Tesla, will setup rapid charging infrastructure based on the 800V CCS spec to ensure the delivery and garbage trucks have a network of charging places to quickly charge and continue their work.
One area that CEO Mike Patterson saw potential in was the need to replace the old analogue dash system with a modern GPS system that would allow tracking, routing and maintenance all in one. This would optimize the routes drivers would take to collect garbage, minimizing power usage and allow the maintenance staff to see what vehicles really needed work, ensuring a better up time for the trucks.
Battle Motors understands that not everything can be changed to pure electric and as such has moved forward with a Hybrid Electric truck series with a generator system to power the electric powertrain and a pure electric system.
Companies like Battle Motors, ZF and others see a quiet, emission free service for companies in the long-term future and a need for Hybrids allowing for battery tech to continue to improve for the long road of when everything is pure electric.
Look for a quiet delivery or garbage truck in your future part of the neighborhood or city.