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Motiv Introducing Cost-Cutting Battery Controller for Its EV Chassis

May 01, 2018 by John O'Dell

Electric truck developer Motiv Power Systems has developed a new unified battery controller that can cut costs, increase cargo capacity and speed up the build process for trucks based on its medium-duty EPIC chassis.

The Foster City, Calif., company made the announcement at the ACT Expo green transportation conference Monday in Long Beach, Calif.

The new Adaptive Battery Controller will replace the multiple battery controllers now needed for the EV chassis, greatly reducing the control hardware’s size and weight, said Jim Castelaz, Motiv’s founder and chief executive.

By freeing space outside the battery-electric chassis’ frame rails, the new controller also will streamline the body fitting process by providing more space and flexibility for truck body builders, he said.

The Class 4-7 EPIC chassis, which recently earned California Air Resources Board certification as a zero-emission chassis, can be outfitted with up to six battery packs, each requiring its own controller.

Motiv’s new Adaptive Battery Controller can replace up to six controllers per truck, shaving costs and increasing cargo capacity. The large component labeled EPIC is an oversized prototype. (Photo: Motiv)

The roughly 60-pound controller boxes are mounted on the outside of the frame rails and can add 360 pounds to the truck’s weight — reducing cargo capacity and, because of their weight, cutting down on a truck’s overall range. Replacing them with a single controller can slash vehicle weight by up to 300 pounds, Castelaz said.

The batteries and their controllers also are the biggest cost in electric vehicle builds, he said.

By using batteries mass produced for electric passenger cars, the EPIC chassis reduces weight and costs. Utilizing a single battery controller in place of multiple controllers provides further reductions, said Castelaz, who calls it “a pioneering piece of technology for the commercial fleet market.”

Use of a single battery controller also provides more room and flexibility for truck body builders.

“Motiv’s goal with the EPIC was to create a simple, reliable and cost-effective all-electric chassis capable of meeting the varying needs of medium-duty fleet operators while streamlining the build process,” Castelaz said.

The EPIC chassis is based on Ford’s medium-duty platform, but Motiv plans to expand it to provide California-certified zero-emission chassis and powertrains for bodies designed for other manufacturers’ platforms, said David Vespremi, Motiv’s marketing manager.

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