Wednesday 18 September 2019

MAN electrics on the charge

A diversified range of technologies will appear from Europe’s truck manufacturers in the near future, as they seek to conform to the tough greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the EU with electric vehicles in the forefront – according to Felix Kybart, vice president for alternative drives at MAN Truck & Bus GmbH.

Addressing the Microlise Transport Conference in Coventry, he began his presentation with a plea to delegates not to be distracted by talk of autonomous vehicles.

“We need good drivers,” he asserted. “They do far more than drive a truck.”

He then turned to the subject of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Forty-five per cent of global man-made GHG emissions are from energy production and 24 per cent are from transport.

“In Europe, eight or nine per cent of our GHG emissions are from trucks, and MAN trucks are responsible for about one per cent of this.

“To meet the new VECTO standards, all truck manufacturers will need some emissions-free vehicles of over 16-tonnes by 2025, and a lot more by 2030.”

Powering these vehicles was going to be another issue. Germany, in particular, faced great challenges in increasing the displacement of conventional vehicles with electrics.

“Fifty per cent of German generation capacity is going to have to be replaced, because it is nuclear, which is being phased out, or coal, which is too dirty,” he said.

France, on the other hand, had plenty of clean generation capacity with 50 per cent of its power mix provided by nuclear energy.

“MAN’s electric trucks are 100 per cent reliable, and drivers like them,” he claimed.

“But they need better charging infrastructure. It’s easy to deal with one electric truck working out of a depot, but rather more difficult if you must deal with 50 or 100.”

Current electric truck availability was a reality: “You can order an MAN eTGM now for delivery in three months.”

Mr Kybart was cautious about hydrogen, which the British government for one is planning to use as a fuel for long-haul trucks (Transport Operator 81).

“There is a 30 per cent loss of energy when electricity is used to convert water to hydrogen, then a further loss of 30 to 60 per cent in the fuel cell. So, it is only 20 per cent efficient, and there is a high energy cost. In fact, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is three times higher in energy cost than a battery electric,” he said.

But charging electric trucks was an issue, and passenger car practice could not just be upscaled to suit as some planners thought.

“Passenger cars are parked most of the time, and can be recharged. Buses and trucks are driving most of the time.”

However, the technology was advancing and becoming more economically viable.

“Electric city bus total cost of ownership is now the same as diesel.

“The priority is now introducing diesel trucks for urban distribution. One advantage is that electric trucks can drive right into buildings to make deliveries.”

He explained some of the key point of operational experience with MAN’s electric trucks.

“A recharge worth 100 km can be done in 45 minutes, while a 160 km recharge can be done in 150 minutes. A fast charge can be done quicker than a battery swap.

“The battery is the single most costly part of the vehicle. It’s also one of the heaviest at three tonnes.

“We estimate we will reach TCP parity with diesel trucks by the mid-2020s, with the battery being renewed once on the vehicle’s life.

“We currently claim 180 km range, but this may be an underestimate. We find that drivers are constantly working to beat their personal bests with improved driving technique: one has achieved a 210 km range.”

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