Truck e-axle consortium wins UK R&D funding
Meritor, Danfoss Editron and Electra Commercial Vehicles have won funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s (APC) Core Competition Programme to partially fund the design and development of Meritor’s 17Xe electric powertrain system for heavy-duty electric trucks and buses equipped with a single drive axle, in their EPIC (electric powertrain integration for heavy commercial vehicles) project. The group has won GBP15.9 million toward the GBP31.9 million project. “With this award, our consortium will develop a game-changing electric powertrain for heavy-duty 4×2 and 6×2 vehicles up to 44 tonnes without wheel-end reduction, and up to 65 tonne vehicles with wheel-end reduction,” said Chris Villavarayan, CEO and president, Meritor. “This technology will provide commercial vehicle OEMs with the optimal solution to meet EU 2025 CO2 reduction targets and enable Meritor to significantly expand its Blue Horizon technology portfolio brand into Europe.”
The system will increase efficiency, reduce weight, lower cost and unlocking longer range than existing solutions currently on the market, said Jeff Herrin, vice president of research and development at Danfoss Power Solutions.
The UK’s Sid Sadique, chief executive officer and president, Electra Commercial Vehicles, said: “With range extension being a critical factor in the adoption of commercial electric vehicles, we can’t wait to get started developing an efficient drivetrain solution with more battery space.”
Each EPIC consortium member will each play a critical role in building and validating four different chassis:
- Meritor: Overall integration of motor, inverter, transmission and carrier into the axle housing to enable packaging in existing vehicles, also transmission and geared carrier development and integration, transmission controller and software development, lightweight brake development, system validation and supply chain selection and development
- Danfoss Editron: Electric motor and inverter, development and integration
- Electra Commercial Vehicles: Mechanical and controls integration of battery-electric chassis
Meritor’s 17Xe ePowertrain system will deliver up to 430kW of continuous power with a 800V rated electric motor for heavy trucks and buses in 6X2 or 4X2 configurations.
The integrated system is said to be suitable for full electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as well as series hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations. It provides efficient packaging designed for short wheelbase trucks, optimised gearing for energy regeneration, and a wide range of ratios. It will be designed to drop into existing chassis with minimal to no modifications to the suspension or frame.
Danfoss Editron’s electric motor is based on a patented architecture and thermal management methodology which exceeds the APC’s 2035 Roadmap targets for power-density.
According to the company, that also means that only one motor is required, a significant step forward in heavy-duty ePowertrain design, with most competitor products needing two motors to meet power requirements. Only requiring one motor is seen as a step-change in the industry, as it reduces parts, weight and cost while improving reliability.
As part of this programme, Meritor will create a European Centre of Excellence for eMobility in Cwmbran, South Wales, and Danfoss Editron will create an Innovation Centre in Edinburgh.