has teamed up with Meritor
(a global leader in heavy commercial vehicle drivetrain systems) and Electra Commercial Vehicles (a UK integrator of battery electric commercial vehicles), to form the Meritor-led Electric Powertrain Integration for Heavy Commercial Vehicles (EPIC) consortium.
The group has secured £15.9 million in funding from Advanced Propulsion Centre UK
(APC) and Innovate UK
to develop a next-generation zero-emission electric powertrain that will provide commercial vehicle OEMs with ‘an advanced solution designed to meet global CO2
The commercial vehicle industry is transitioning to electric powertrains, a move driven by international legislation mandating CO2
reduction, the growing number of zero-emission zones in major cities and rapidly reducing battery costs.
As a result, industry experts predict that over 2.2 million commercial vehicles will be electric by 2030, including 13-20% of heavy-duty vehicles. However, the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles is currently lagging behind that of light and medium-duty vehicles, partly because existing electric and hybrid powertrains can be costly, heavy and restrict battery packaging.
Through the EPIC partnership, the three members will design and develop an electric powertrain system consisting of a high-power electric motor and high-efficiency silicon carbide inverter delivered by Danfoss Editron; Meitor will deliver a three-speed transmission, geared differential and lightweight brakes.
Moreover, Meritor will integrate all the components into a single system that can be installed in an existing chassis with little to no modification required.
Meanwhile, Electra Commercial Vehicles will be responsible for the mechanical and controls integration of the battery-electric chassis and build up four different chassis for validation. Once fully-developed, it is planned that the electric powertrain system will be industrialised and marketed globally to commercial vehicle OEMs under Meritor’s Blue Horizon brand.
The ‘power density’ of Danfoss Editron’s motor will be such that only one motor will be required in the electric powertrain design; this is a significant step forward as today’s existing products need two motors to meet this product segment’s power requirements.
Only requiring one motor will result in a reduction in parts, weight and costs while improving reliability. To help deliver its part of the EPIC project, Danfoss Editron will develop a Low-carbon Innovation Centre next to its existing facility in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, Meritor will create a European Centre of Excellence for eMobility in Cwmbran, Wales, as part of the programme. EPIC will create jobs in both Europe and the UK through the two new centres — and future manufacturing capability.
Adrian Schaffer, Danfoss Editron’s global sales director for on-highway, said: “The EPIC project will deliver an innovative approach to electrification by commercialising a new integrated solution for the on-highway market. The electric powertrain system will be a fantastic new option for customers interested in integrated solutions.
“There is currently a tremendous change happening across heavy-duty markets, with more companies demanding electrification solutions than ever before. This technology will play a vital role in meeting this growing demand.”