Green Trucks, Connectivity and Automation Top NACV News

October 30, 2019 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

Electric trucks, alternative fuels and autonomous driving technology headlined the announcements at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta this week.

Hyundai Motor Co. showed a highly-styled, Art Deco concept for a hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty truck. Paccar, the owner of the Peterbilt and Kenworth brands, also displayed a fuel cell heavy-duty truck and battery-electric options. ZF Friedrichstrafen said it is developing a new 8-speed automatic transmission for commercial vehicles. It also has earmarked nearly $14 billion to spend on autonomous driving and electric truck technology. Navistar International Corp. announced new investments in truck connectivity and a deal to sell Scania mining trucks.


Hyundai Motor Co. unveiled a hydrogen fuel cell truck and trailer combo at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta. It also said it was considering entering the U.S. commercial vehicle market, but did not provide details.

The South Korean automaker showcased its HDC-6 Neptune Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck. The truck builds on the fuel cell work Hyundai has developed for its Tucson and Nexo passenger vehicles and signals where the company wants to go with green transport.

The Art Deco streamliner railway trains that ran from 1936 until 1959 inspired the styling of the Neptune Concept. Hyundai did not say when it might be produced. It already has an agreement to sell 1,600 of a different fuel cell truck in Switzerland. One executive said it will take five years to fully develop the technology for the Neptune truck.


Hyundai’s HDC-6 Neptune Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck. (Photo: Hyundai)

Hyundai also pitched improvements in trailer technology that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will be one of the first manufacturers in North America to introduce a cryogenic nitrogen refrigeration technology trailer system.

It developed the refrigerated trailer concept in collaboration with industrial gases producer Air Liquide. The trailer would produce a carbon footprint that is up to 90 percent less than a conventional unit.


Paccar also is moving into fuel cell heavy-duty truck development. Its Kenworth division and Toyota Motor North America are building 10 zero-emission Kenworth T680s powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains.

Kenworth T680s

Kenworth’s T680s. (Photo: Kenworth)

The project is part of a $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities grant from the California Air Resources Board. The trucks will be used at the Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach complex, primarily moving containers to and from California’s Inland Empire region about 70 miles away.

“The Port of Los Angeles, Kenworth, Toyota and Shell are working together to foster the development of hydrogen fuel cell electric technology in Class 8 trucks, producing water as the only emissions byproduct, while meeting or exceeding diesel truck performance,” said Kevin Baney, Kenworth’s general manager.

Paccar’s Peterbilt division showcased three battery electric vehicles.

The company plans to share its fuel cell and electric drive train technology across all of its brands.

The Kenworth assembly plant in Renton, Wash., has built four hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. It is assembling the fifth truck.


German automotive supplier ZF Friedrichstrafen said it is investing $13.9 billion in automated driving and electric mobility across both the commercial vehicle and light vehicle markets.

ZF said its efforts would help address North American commercial vehicle industry challenges such as job shortages, cost of operations, freight demands and environmental regulations, “enabling transformative change in the market.”

Specifically, the company said it is working with Daimler Trucks North America to supply an electric drive axle called the AxTrax for the Freightliner Innovation Fleet eCascadia electric truck.

It’s also is developing a new 8-speed automatic transmission called ZF PowerLine for medium-duty vehicles. It will be available in early 2021.

The company is moving more heavily into commercial vehicle technology with its planned acquisition of Wabco, another industry supplier.

The Wabco acquisition and other investments will help ZF push into automated driver assistance, or ADAS, and autonomous driving technology.

“The business case in commercial vehicles for a reduction in driver hours of service, fuel cost reduction and safety” provides “strong economic incentives to adopt the technology,” said Dan Williams, ZF’s director for ADAS & Autonomy.

“ZF has the expertise and solutions to meet all of these needs, and because we can transfer our knowledge and development costs from the high-volume passenger car segment to our consumer vehicle customers – this is a unique cost-savings and technology benefit,” Williams said.

For example, ZF estimated the average cost of a lane departure crash is about $53,000. And unintentional lane departures account for about 32 percent of commercial vehicle crashes, the company said. That demonstrates the business case for automated driver assistance systems such as ZF’s OnTraX, that warn of lane departure, Williams said.


Volvo Trucks North America introduced a special aerodynamic option package for its truck that improves fuel economy.

The FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit includes a system of wheel covers and fairings. Navistar will make it available as a factory-installed option in the second quarter of next year.

“The aerodynamics of our trucks have a significant impact on fuel efficiency and our customers’ bottom line,” said Allison Athey, product marketing manager, Volvo Trucks North America. Athey said the kit would provide a 1 percent to 2 percent gain depending on the truck.

FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit on Volvo vnl

Volvo’s VNL 760 with FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit. (Photo: Volvo)

The kit minimizes turbulence and improves aerodynamics of the drive wheels to manage better the air that moves around the tractor while in motion. The system consists of wheel covers, a center fairing between the wheels and a rear fairing behind the wheels.

Volvo also introduced a shorter version of its VNR regional truck. It said the VNR 660 will work for motor carriers that must meet regulations such as federal or state bridge laws, length laws or weight limitations.

The new Volvo VNR 660 features a shorter, 164-inch bumper to back-of-cab length. It offers weight savings from its smaller size. The truck also provides the option to use more versatile tractor-trailer combinations for increased cargo capacity, Volvo said. The model combines a high-roof configuration with a 61-inch sleeper that accommodates an extra person for an overnight stop. It can be used for local and regional routes that utilize team drivers.


Navistar International Corp. showed off its International eMV Series electric truck.

The company also said it has an agreement with Scania to sell the Swedish company’s mining industry trucks in Canada. The deal focuses on the Scania XT, a truck designed specifically for off-road and mining operations. A handful of Navistar’s International brand truck dealers in Canada will sell the vehicle.

“Working with Scania as a partner will help us rapidly achieve scale in addressing this unique market segment with comprehensive and powerful solutions,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar’s chief operating officer.

Scania is a subsidiary of Traton Group, which was formally Volkswagen’s truck and bus division. Traton owns about 17 percent of Navistar and the companies have a business alliance.

Navistar also introduced its International 360 service. It is a fleet management platform that supports communication with International’s service network. It works regardless of the brand of trucks a fleet operates. The system provides information, such as vehicle health and location data.

Jerry Hirsch October 22, 2019
Trucker deaths continue to rise and are at their highest level in more than 30 years, according to new NHTSA data.

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