Friedrichshafen/Hanover. ZF Friedrichshafen AG offers a broad product and services portfolio for the electrification of commercial vehicles. It focuses on all-electric drive solutions for urban vehicles and hybrid applications for use in long-distance transport. The company’s latest products include an all-electric central drive for buses, coaches and delivery trucks intended for urban transport. Derived from the technology of the AVE 130 electric portal axle for city buses, a close-to- wheel electric drive for heavy delivery trucks is also part of this new portfolio. Now, it has been introduced for the first time in the Urban eTruck concept from Mercedes-Benz. In addition to the above, ZF offers hybrid solutions such as the TraXon Hybrid for heavy trucks. The commercial vehicle sector is also benefiting from close dovetailing with e-mobility solutions for passenger cars. As an example, ZF modified its all-electric axle drive, originally engineered for passenger cars, for use in light commercial vehicles.
High-torque, powerful diesel engines remain critical components for many commercial vehicle applications. Nevertheless, the electrification of commercial vehicles has strong potential because for some applications and market regions, the hybrid or the all-electric drive is a better alternative. “Many commercial vehicles with limited daily mileage can already be operated using all-electric drives,” says Fredrik Staedtler, head of the Commercial Vehicle Technology Division at ZF. These systems are even mandatory in many large metropolitan cities in Europe and Asia that already have strict emissions regulations. Fleet vehicles are often used in a return-to-base operation which means that delivery trucks and buses can return to the fleet lot or bus depot overnight and be easily re-charged.
All-electric buses and delivery trucks for getting around town
As the newest addition to its broad e-mobility solution portfolio, ZF has now developed an all-electric central drive that brings city buses and delivery trucks one step closer to zero-emission driving. The central drive is ideal for vehicles with driveline configurations similar to those currently in use in conventional vehicles, thus making it easy to integrate into existing vehicle concepts. The fact that the central drive can be combined with both single rear drive axles and conventional low-floor axles means it can be installed in low-entry buses and all kinds of low-floor buses. The popular AVE130 electric portal axle is another ideal solution for low-floor buses because it provides weight benefits in the vehicle and accommodates flexible vehicle architectures with open interior designs.
Hybrid drives for trucks and buses
ZF has developed yet another product for hybrid use in heavy commercial vehicles. Its TraXon Hybrid features an electric motor installed between the combustion engine and the transmission. This parallel hybrid design allows all hybrid functionalities to be realized in a 40-ton truck. One feature particularly attractive for many applications is that in generator mode, the hybrid module can also supply power to other units, during refrigerated transports, for example. In thinking about future needs at the truck terminal or bus depot, ZF has equipped its Innovation Truck 2016 with the TraXon Hybrid which can maneuver autonomously and purely electrically. Apart from being installed in truck applications, TraXon Hybrid is also suitable for coaches, where the hybrid drive boasts the same advantages.
Light commercial vehicles benefit from synergies with passenger car solutions
ZF’s e-mobility solutions for light commercial vehicles benefit from the company’s expertise in the passenger car sector. For example, ZF has taken a central axle drive, originally designed for passenger cars, and applied it to light commercial vehicles and delivery trucks. It will go into volume production in 2018. It combines an electric motor with a two-stage single-speed transmission, differential and power electronics to form a highly-integrated, extremely compact unit. When it comes to performance, at 150 kW, the system also works perfectly in light commercial vehicles. “Identifying synergies between passenger cars and commercial vehicles has always been an asset of ZF and this also holds true for our electrification strategy,” emphasizes Staedtler.