The Volkswagen brand of heavy trucks may not be present in India, its group companies MAN and Scania are present. It may be too soon to predict if they will profit from the Group’s move to invest Euro 1.4 billion in new technologies by 2022, including electric trucks and buses. Volkswagen will spend money to develop electric drives, autonomous vehicles and cloud-based systems. While a spin-off of Volkswagen’s trucks business is said to be under consideration, the move to electrify commercial vehicles is in-line with the rising regulatory pressure on auto makers the world over to develop vehicles that have zero tail pipe emissions. Navistar International Corp. and Volkswagen Truck & Bus announced plans recently to collaborate on electric vehicles. They are expected to launch an electric medium duty truck in North America by late 2019. Volkswagen competitor, Daimler has already launched an electric medium duty truck under its Fuso brand in North America. It has supplied the truck to UPS to carry out last mile deliveries in New York.
Volkswagen eload UP makes an important platform as one of the smallest electric vans ever created.
Volkswagen unveiled a box-wagon designed as an electric vehicle in 2013. Designed primarily as a zero-emission vehicle for urban transport, the eload UP, based on the UP, aimed at crowded European city streets that demand a more compact delivery van over those that are found in US where there are broader boulevards and ample parking during the day as well as at night. Measuring 3540 mm in length, the eload UP, measuring 1645 mm in width and 1477 mm in height, is growing its presence in Europe. Set to make an appearance in the UK, the eload UP requires a fairly small parking space. Aimed at service technicians, mobile service providers, and at courier and pizza delivery among other express delivery services, the EV stands out not just for its panel van cargo conversion, but also for its electric powertrain. The powertrain has been borrowed from the passenger-spec eUp!
Based on the four-door eUP, the eload UP commercial van allows cargo to be loaded from the rear as well as from the side doors. Capable of swallowing up to 1,400-litre (49 cu. ft.) and 306 kg (675 pounds) of load – enhanced by the fold-up passenger seat next to the driver, the eload UP is powered by an electric motor, which produces 60 kW (82 hp) of peak power, and a maximum torque of 210 Nm. The electrics of the van are supported by a 18.7 kWh lithium-ion battery under the floor. With a maximum range of 100 miles or a shade under 160 kms, the eload UP, in the metal, looks the part. A full set of side windows and proper opening rear doors make the van tough to distinguish from the standard five-door UP city car. There’s a badge on the back for those who would look for a way to distinguish it from the UP city car. For those who would take the trouble of gazing through the darkened rear glass, a mesh bulkhead presents itself behind the front seats.
Looking compact enough to spell a doubt if the eload UP will satisfy the last mile connectivity needs of mushrooming ecommerce companies, all it takes is to lift the boot hatch. The load space looks bigger than one would imagine, or even estimate. Call it clever packaging, but the loading space of the eload UP seems bigger than it actually is. The eload UP offers 1000-litre carrying capacity with the passenger seat in place. As mentioned above, folding the passenger seat next to the driver enhances the carrying capacity to 1,400-litres. The payload capacity of 306 kg is comparable to other car derived vans found in Europe, like the Ford Fiesta and Mini Clubvan. Quite an achievement it is, and especially when one considers the fact that the eload UP is still a city car underneath, and has a battery pack placed beneath its floor. After much exploration, the only down-side one comes to think of regarding the loading area is the narrow opening and a high loading lip. Bulky items of teasing shapes can be difficult to load. What works to the advantage at this stage are the side doors, which open.
The cabin of the eload UP is exceedingly similar to that of the UP. Clean and modern in its appearance, the interior flaunts a strong air of quality. There is a premium feel to the interior; right from the metallic door release catches, the glossy car-coloured trim to a sporty leather steering wheel. If the interior reminds of the Polo or the bigger Golf, the eload UP moves away from the kerb side in silence. It surges ahead the way electric cars are known to. Capable of clocking zero to 62 mph (100 kmph) in 12.4 seconds, and achieving a top speed of 81 mph (130 kmph approx.), the eload UP feels quick and nippy. With 210 Nm of torque available instantly, the electric van is easy to drive and easy to manoeuvre. All that the EV calls for is to turn the key and switch it on. Select drive and the eload UP is ready to go. The weight of the batteries is felt, but a brilliantly tight turning circle has the eload UP making easy progress through crowded roads and lanes.
Exhibiting good stability, the eload UP’s range can be maximised by turning on engine braking. Engine braking can be set between one and three levels, and has an effect on the performance of the van. Depending on the level chosen, the van drops speed the moment the throttle is released. Kinetic energy is recaptured to charge the battery. Eco or Eco+modes can be selected too. They reign back performance and disable some electrical systems to increase the travel range. With 80 per cent of the battery capacity capable of being charged in just 30 minutes at a fast charging station, the eload UP takes eight hours to charge fully when plugged into a normal domestic power supply.
Eberspaecher PTC solution
Claimed to be used in the Volkswagen eGolf and eload UP, the PTC solution from Eberspaecher involves high voltage heaters. Supplied by Eberspaecher catem, a leading supplier of electric heating systems, the PTC solution helps the electric car keep warm without the heat from the engine. In an electric vehicle like the eload UP there is no internal combustion that is capable of generating heat. The second generation PTC coolant heater from Herxheim-based PTC specialist combines intelligent output control. According to Andreas Schwarzer, General Manager, Eberspaecher catem, the heating system in an electric vehicle is a key range factor. With their installed volume of about one-litre, and weighing two-kgs, the PTC high-voltage heaters meet all the requirements of future-proof components.
With the integrated electronics, the PTC solution ensures an energy efficient heat management besides heating. The physical properties of the PTC ceramics guarantee safety in a high-voltage environment. They heat up only to the predetermined temperature. Once it has been reached, the PTC automatically reduces the current consumption. Eberspaecher catem also offers production solutions for thermal conditioning of the sensitive battery pack.
Volkswagen’s (VW) truck division is looking at expanding truck operations in Asia. The strategy is said to be engineered such that the MAN and Scania group arms are aligned closely enough to strongly compete with competitors like Daimler and Volvo. The move is claimed by industry sources to be connected with yet another development, that of the acquisition of US commercial vehicle major Navistar. Volkswagen, claim sources, is in talks to acquire a stake in Navistar. Andreas Renschler, VW trucks chief on the sidelines of the Hannover truck show is known to have expressed that the deal with Navistar will give VW access to the lucrative US trucks market and the Asia market. Sources claim that the markets VW is looking at are North America, India and China. MAN in particular is said to be looking at improving its product management in India and expand its market reach. MAN operates through a subsidiary, MAN Trucks India. Some 2000 MAN trucks per year are sold claim sources.