CES 2019: Peterbilt Joins Growing Electric Medium-Duty Truck Crowd

January 09, 2019 by Alan Adler, @AlanAdler

Peterbilt Motors plans to team with suppliers Meritor and TransPower to build a medium-duty electric chassis that could underpin trucks used for regional freight, local delivery and garbage collection.

The Paccar Inc. division and sister brand to Kenworth announced its electric truck plan Tuesday at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Peterbilt joins a growing number of truck makers focusing on medium-duty applications for battery-powered electric trucks.

“Adding the medium-duty platform to our electric truck lineup was a natural evolution of our development plan,” said Jason Skoog, Peterbilt general manager.

Great potential

Los Angeles-based startup Thor Trucks, which designs electric-powered battery systems and modular chassis for commercial vehicles, said it sees great potential in medium-duty electric trucks and equipment like large fork lifts.

Volvo Trucks recently added an electric garbage truck to its portfolio. The Volvo FE Electric will start collecting trash early next year in Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city.

Robert Bosch USA is leading a Department of Energy-funded project, the Medium-duty Urban Range Connected Extended Powertrain, which runs on electricity with a small gasoline engine as a backup. Prototype testing is expected to begin this year.

Many medium-duty trucks cover the same routes each day and at night return to a base where they can be recharged.

“Electrification is moving toward medium duties because companies are smarter about spending their money,” said Antti Lindstrom, a trucking analyst with IHS Markit. “Electrification is going to start there.”

The zero-emission Peterbilt 220EV is powered by two TransPower battery packs with a total of 148 kWh and a Meritor Blue Horizon two-speed drive eAxle. It is chargeable in as little as an hour with direct-current fast-charging.

The first six E220s will be delivered this summer to a customer Peterbilt declined to name.

Third electrified chassis

The E220EV is Peterbilt’s third electrified chassis, joining electrified versions of its heavy-duty 520EV and 579EV models in customer tests.

Peterbilt and TransPower worked together to deliver an electrically powered garbage truck based on the heavy-duty Peterbilt 520 model in 2017. The truck featured TransPower’s ElecTruk system with a 300-kiloWatt-hour rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack.

“With each of these trucks we have different levels of charging for the customers’ duty cycles,” said Scott Newhouse, Peterbilt chief engineer.

Separately, Meritor said Tuesday it has 22 electrification programs with global equipment makers that are expected to put at least 130 fully electric medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks on the road through 2020.

“These programs position Meritor for future growth in an emerging industry segment,” said John Bennett, Meritor vice president and chief technology officer.

Sixty of the 130 commercial vehicles expected to be placed into service by 2020 received funding from the California Air Resources Board as part of a broader effort to reduce carbon emissions, Meritor said.

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