Are truck and van e-drives ready for the mass market?

So long, diesel! Numerous companies are willing to switch faster to zero-emission fleets – providing the e-trucks on offer are attractive in terms of ROI and technology. Creative concepts with proven solid axles look promising here.

CTI Symposia – setting the pace in zero-emissions mobility

As a seismograph for emerging trends, CTI symposia were quick to put drivetrain electrification on the agenda. At the upcoming CTI Symposium USA, the road to Net Zero Emissions will be a central topic. To achieve ambitious climate protection goals, further progress is needed in commercial vehicles too. So at the symposium, trucks will have their own dedicated technology session. Plenary speakers will also be addressing the topic, and an expert discussion will examine the question: “What does it take for EV trucks to go mainstream?”

MHCV market forecasts – more exciting than ever 

The market for medium and heavy-duty trucks (MHCV) is about to change dramatically. Climate change is creating new framework conditions and driving the introduction of zero-emission trucks. In his presentation, Greg Genette (IHS Markit, USA) will offer precise analyses and solid forecasts for this new situation.

The speaker will examine the segment of trucks and buses with a total weight of 6.0t and higher in detail. Focus points will include both various drive types (BEV, FCEV, natural gas, diesel, petrol, hybrid) and international markets (China, Europe, Japan and the United States). To supplement his short-term (to 2030) production and sales forecasts, Greg Genette will also make long-term forecasts up to 2050. His focus will rest on electrification and global megatrends.

The presentation will offer insights into the fast-changing regulatory environment, and will assess the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in relation to the truck market. To add depth to his forecasts, Greg Genette will discuss the factors that drive demand for zero-emission vehicles and provide an updated modeling of their TCO. As the speaker points out, SP Global’s forecasting methodology combines top-down and bottom-up approaches to incorporate both changes in the energy industry, and detailed forecasts at motor and model level.

Live axle plus e-drive – a new winning team

Many designers appreciate the qualities of the good old live or solid axle – particularly in robust and economical solutions for commercial vehicles, or for pick-up trucks that need high towing capacity and payloads, plus off-road capabilities.

According to Joe Palazzolo (Dana, USA), the key to uncompromising performance in the segments Pickup and Van (Class 1-5) is a “modular and scalable electrified live axle solution”. While transferring valuable knowledge from traditional live axle designs to electric vehicle architectures pays off immediately, scalability and modularity need to be factored in from the start when integrating e-motors and inverters. The speaker will discuss and document the advantages of solid e-axle solutions and their long-term prospects. In a fiercely competitive segment, the goal is a solution that ticks all the boxes for commercial success, including traction, robustness, high payloads and packaging flexibility.

In the past, numerous customers who value high payloads and off-road mobility have opted for live axle constructions. As Craig Renneker (American Axle Manufacturing, USA) points out, there were good reasons for this. Other axle designs can struggle to achieve key properties such as high ground clearance and camber rigidity. Also, applications of this kind traditionally use various technologies to improve traction. To solve this issue, Randy Lesperance will examine possible ways of building an e-drive into a solid axle. He will also compare live axles with De Dion suspension. For designers, options include different ways to integrate inverters on the axle, transverse or longitudinal motor mounting, and offset or coaxial motor mounting. Various options for improving traction will also be considered.

Dog clutches have a future as newly developed systems

“Dog clutches are an interesting alternative for multi-speed transmissions in electric drive units for commercial vehicles,” explains Dr Martin Huber (AVL List, Austria) in his presentation. Generally speaking, dog clutch systems offer higher mechanical efficiency and lower costs than friction clutches or synchronizing units. Major development challenges include selecting a suitable dog clutch geometry, and configuring a suitable actuation system. To shorten shift times, designers must ensure that the clutch can be opened under torque, and closed at high differential speeds without incurring wear.

Dr. Martin Huber will present a methodology that AVL offers for developing these dog clutch systems. With the aid of multi-body simulations, developers first define a suitable dog clutch geometry, taking different differential speeds and torque conditions, as well as the performance of the actuation system, into account. Shift times for engaging and disengaging the dog clutch are then optimized. Dynamic forces can be evaluated and calculated in real time. A structural analysis is applied to ensure sufficient component torque capacity and to avoid fracture or fatigue effects. The model-based approach supports simulation tasks and enables the control system to be pre-calibrated at an early development stage. Finally, the design of the dog clutch is evaluated and verified on the test bench at component and transmission level.

Versatile eBeam axle – the new 3-in-1 drive system from ZF

How do you electrify light and medium-duty commercial vehicles and bring them to market quickly? ZF’s answer is a newly developed solid axle with an integrated electric 3-in-1 drive system (electric motor, inverter, 1-speed drive). As Dr Jörg Trampler (ZF North America, USA) will explain in his presentation, the ZF axle features a new oil-cooled PSM electric motor and a highly efficient SiC inverter. Since both complex modules are part of ZF’s modular electrification kit, they can be used across different drive programs to deliver economies of scale. The modular system design allows customer options such as parking lock, mechanical / electric limited slip differential and rear wheel steering to be added. Live axles with integrated electrical high-voltage drives are new products. They enable trucks and vans to be powered electrically while benefitting from the robustness and durability of a solid axle – all with reduced integration effort for OEMs. The vehicle segment targeted covers trucks and vans from Class 1 to Class 3. A prototype of the axle system is currently under development, and will be presented in a medium-duty pickup truck.

CTI Symposium USA – the countdown has begun

When the CTI Symposium Novi kicks off live again on 18 May 2022, a two-day program studded with highlights and prominent guests awaits you. Be there when tomorrow’s trends are discussed in the plenum and the eight technology sessions. Explore CTI SYMPOSIUM EXPO, our launch pad for innovations – and broaden your horizons in dialogue with international experts. Now that the long countdown to Net Zero Emissions has started, the CTI Symposium is also a great place to get up to speed on all the latest news.