Proterra Catalyst E2 adds new dimension

Proterra Catalyst E2 has added a new dimension to the concept of electromobility.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja


Electromobility is an area no manufacturer would want to stay away from. It is the need of the time, and is perhaps a gateway to the future. It is not surprising therefore to hear about startups wanting to make a mark in electromobility. There calling, it is clear, is technology. Aiming to eliminate the need for diesel powered buses, a Silicon valley startup Proterra, has developed a 40 ft. long city bus. Building electric buses, Proterra started its journey in 2004 at Golden in Colorado with the development of EcoRide BE35, a 11 m long composite body, fast-charge, electric bus that seats 38 people including the driver, and has a passenger capacity of 60. Shifting its base to Burlingame, California, under the leadership of Ryan Popple, formerly the CEO of Tesla, Proterra launched the Catalyst, a 12 m long fast-charge, 100 per cent electric bus, in 2014 to replace the EcoRide BE35. One of the world’s most efficient transit buses, the Proterra, made from low weight composite materials, is found with operators like King County Metro in Washington.

Building upon the legacy created by the BE35, a battery electric bus to complete federally mandated Altoona testing, and later the Catalyst, the Catalyst E2 (E2 stands for efficient energy) is a 12 m long city bus. Debuting recently at the American Public Transport Association (APTA) annual meeting at Los Angeles, the Proterra E2, under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds, proved to be capable of covering roughly 350 miles (over 550 kms) in one juice. The carbon-reinforced composite body of Catalyst E2 resists impact and avoids corrosion. It also lasts long against a conventional transit vehicle according to company sources. Staying on the road for 18 hours at a stretch, Catalyst E2, with the capacity to transfer 77 passengers, employs an advanced electric drivetrain. The drivetrain is supported by regenerative braking system that helps to recapture over 90 per cent of the bus’ kinetic energy. Aiming to cater to longer routes, the Catalyst E2 is all set to carry forward the legacy of the Catalyst FC and XR series. The two are giving tough competition to traditional buses on short and medium range routes.

Since there is no need for creating charging infrastructure extensively, Proterra’s electric buses look like perfect candidates for increased electromobility, including the new Catalyst E2. The Proterra buses that are already operational, are largely plying along defined routes. They can therefore be charged fully when parked overnight. In the case of the Proterra E2, the in-house developed twin-battery pack can store up to 660 kWh. The twin-battery pack can be fully charged in three to five hours using industry standard J1772 CCS plug-in chargers. Having sold over 312 vehicles to 35 different commercial transit, municipal and university agencies, Proterra sources claim that over 540 thousand gallons of diesel has been saved. They claim further that the Proterra buses have completed 2.5 million revenue miles, and eliminated over 10 million pounds of carbon emissions. Set to hit the streets next year, the Proterra E2’s journey will be dictated by rising customer demand. Made at the company’s manufacturing facility at Greenville, South Carolina, the 12 m long bus will contribute to the company’s ambition of doubling production. The Greenville plant has two lines. Funded through FTA grants as well as venture capital funding according to industry sources, Proterra, which is claimed to have raised more than USD 130 million in private equity funding, has registered a sales growth of 220 per cent in 2016 as compared to 2015 sales.

Battery powered trucks set to be a reality

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Moving beyond hybrid truck technology, battery powered trucks are set to be a reality.

Story by: Team CV

Electric trucks are set to be a reality sooner than later. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles may represent only four per cent of the vehicles in The USA, the fact is, they account for about 20 per cent of the transportation fuel consumed. As emission standards become more stringent, advanced vehicle technologies — similar to those that are used in the current hybrid and electric cars— have the potential of finding a way into a truck. Offering an ability to dramatically reduce fuel consumption, cut fuel costs for businesses, improve air quality and public health, and cut fuel consumption by less than half in the next 20 years, electrically powered trucks have the potential to change the way trucking as an industry is currently perceived. The fact that the technology is moving beyond hybrid is an interesting development in itself. Hybrid electric technology combined a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric motor, batteries, and a braking-energy capture (known as regenerative braking) system to reduce fuel consumption by 20 to 35 percent. Battery powered trucks have the potential to save much more.

Over the several hybrid models offered by manufacturers, and which would account for thousands of hybrid systems in application ranging from public-transit buses to package- and beverage-delivery trucks, battery powered electric trucks are beginning to make a mark. Having no internal combustion engine, battery powered electric trucks are propelled by an electric motor powered by onboard batteries. The range varies depending upon the load and the battery capacity. On an average, battery powered trucks can do 50 and 100 miles per charge in the USA. Examples include urban delivery trucks, which travel short and well-defined routes, are less constrained by battery range and make ideal candidates for full electrification. Companies such as AT&T, Frito-Lay, and Staples have all added electric delivery trucks to their fleets in the USA. While Yard hostlers, which move cargo containers at ports and warehouse complexes, is also said to represent an excellent opportunity for all-electric technologies, the fact is, the biggest constraint, the range of travel, is set to change.

Freedom Trucking of Minneapolis, Minnesota is claimed to have been working to develop a battery powered electric truck that can haul an 80,000 pounds load 400 miles on a single battery charge. It is said to have been working closely with Oakridge Global Energy Solutions of Melbourne, Florida, for several years to find a battery that is up to the task. Oakridge Global Energy Solutions made the announcement recently. In its release, Oakridge announced that the development of a fully electric interstate truck propulsion system will enable interstate trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds to travel more than 400 miles. The company claimed that Freedom Trucking can begin to utilise its revolutionary fully-electric tech through a proprietary logistical system, powered by specially designed Oakridge battery systems to move product from Chicago to Minneapolis on a daily basis.

Using fully electric trucks to move this cargo, it is claimed, will save each truck in excess of USD 0.60 per mile over traditional diesel fuel according to an initial analysis for Freedom Trucking by the US Department of Transportation, which will completely revolutionise the economics of the interstate trucking business in the USA, by saving on fuel costs, maintenance costs, and weight. Oakridge Executive Chairman and CEO, Steve Barber, is known to have expressed that the custom battery design for Freedom Trucking is an absolute game changer. He is known to have said that they would continue their mission to onshore manufacturing back to the US, and that this revolutionary technology would reduce carbon emissions, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and bring manufacturing back to the USA.

Industry sources claim that Freedom Trucking has been working on the design of the propulsion system with Ohio State University scientists and others for the past five years. The product, hampered by poor quality Chinese batteries, is now ready for full scale production in 2016 with high quality, ‘US-made’ Oakridge battery systems. If the sources are to be believed, Oakridge has the talent and technology to overcome obstacles in designing state-of-the-art high performance custom battery systems. The development of new custom battery systems have greatly expanded the effective range of the electric truck, making it a practical reality for immediate application to the interstate trucking business. It is also safe, has low maintenance by virtue of the more robust chemistry and the battery management systems Oakridge has designed.

Electric trucks are coming of age


Looking at what Tevva Motors is up to in the UK, electric trucks look set to be a reality sooner than later.

Story by: Team CV

Electric truck drivetrains are attracting good deal of attention. They could soon become a reality on the roads of Europe. An electric truck startup company Tevva Motors (formerly Teva Motors) is working to commercialise range-extended electric trucks in the UK market for some time now. Revealing its latest offering recently via a video posted online, the company, at the last year’s CV show unveiled a battery-powered 7.5-tonne-GVW truck.

It was few months ago that the company announced the level up to which its come to in terms of being ready for application. The company mentioned that its powertrain can be electric powertrain has retrofitted to any 7.5-tonne truck. At the heart of the driveline is a pair of lithium-ion batteries, which fuel a single electric motor driving through a reduction gearbox to the truck’s standard rear axle. Battery power alone, mains-charged overnight, is claimed to present a range of about 80 miles. This could be enhanced by a 1.6-litre Ford diesel engine working as a range extender. Coming in at around 7.5-tonnes, the range-extended electric truck is manufactured by the Chinese company JAC, and claims to have an all-electric range of 130 km (over 80 miles). A much larger absolute-range is possible once the diesel range extender is factored in, and can be recharged in roughly three hours using a three-phase high-power outlet. Getting support from UPS, Tevva Motors is claimed to be particularly proud of its patented ‘Predictive Range Extender Management System’. One of the claimed benefits of the system is the ability to deliver a battery life of up to 10 years. The driveline comes from Sheffield-based Magtec; the lithium-ion battery pack comes from Essex-based Goodwolfe Energy.

While two of Tevva’s prototype trucks are claimed to have clocked around 30,000 miles over the past six months in road tests, and are based on the N-series chassis-cabs from JAC of China, it is UPS, which is currently performing a pilot study with one of the range-extended (REx) electric truck prototypes, which will lead to the company utilising the technology on a broader scale. A third Tevva test vehicle, with a retrofitted driveline, is based on a Mercedes-Benz Vario. According to Asher Bennett, Tevva Motors Chief Executive, all three vehicles were built to be broken. “That is how we find weaknesses and improve the design to be production-ready. The fact that all three vehicles continue to perform beyond expectation is testament to the technology. But this is only the start,” he said. Interestingly, one of the ideas behind the use a range extender is that, while carbon emissions (and pollution) will still be emitted by the truck, the timing of these emissions can be easily controlled. In other words, rather than spewing diesel pollution in urban and residential areas, the use of the range-extender can be limited to freeways, rural areas, etc.

UPS van retrofitted with hybrid powertrain


It was later last year that Parcel carrier UPS announced its plan to repower a considerable number of its van fleet with a locally-developed hybrid driveline. This would be a part of the parcel carrier’s global strategy to lower its carbon footprint. Designed and developed by engineering consultancy Revolve Technologies, the hybrid driveline would also serve to extend the useful service life of the company’s Mercedes-Benz Vario vans claimed sources. Using the Cenex 2015 Low Carbon event at Millbrook to present the hybrid drivetrain installed in a UPS Mercedes-Benz Vario van, Revolve Technologies took upon themselves to reveal the nature of the hybrid driveline. The hybrid system employs a Ford Focus diesel engine to act as a generator, which runs at one of the three fixed speeds depending on demand. It is optimised for emissions and consumption at 1,300, 2,200 and 3,200rpm. The battery and the power management system along with the P180 electric traction motor, which drives the rear wheels directly, are Magtec units produced in the UK. During braking the traction motor becomes a generator, recovering energy by producing electricity which is stored in the batteries. The new drivetrains, revealed Revolve Technologies sources, will be installed in the vans by Tevva Motors. The additional weight of the hybrid components, claimed Revolve sources, is offset to a degree by using a lighter diesel engine, and the drivetrain has no significant effect on the vans’ payload.

Vans shine bright at the CV Show 2016

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Vans shone bright at the Commercial Vehicle Show 2016 at Birmingham in UK.

Story by: Team CV

As the Commercial Vehicle Show 2016 held at Birmingham, UK, between April 26 and April 28, 2016, opened its gates to the people, it did not take long to understand that vans would steal the show. Occupying a place of prime discussion and display at over 430 of the 500 exhibitors, it were vans that made news at the fair. And, this would not have come at a better time than to acknowledge the fact that over four million vans are operating on UK roads. This figure was recently released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) as part of the Motorparc data. The data revealed that a total of 4,007,331 vans are in use on UK roads, a 4.3 per cent increase since the previous year. Demand for new vans in the UK is at record levels on the back of sustained business confidence and the continuing surge in demand for online deliveries. No wonder, Toyota and LDV returned to the CV show for the first time in eight years.

Citroen unveiled the Dispatch van alongside with vans from Peugeot and Toyota that share the same platform. The Peugeot van is called the Expert and the Toyota van is called the Proace. The Dispatch looks elegant, and is powered by a 16-litre diesel engine that could be had in 94 hp and 119 hp guise; a 2.0-litre engine could be had in 114 hp, 148 hp and 178 hp guise. Both are Euro 6 compliant and include a SCR with 22.4-litre AdBlue tank. Transmission is a choice of six-speed auto or a six-speed automated manual unit. Offering a neat dash, that is functional and ergonomically well sorted, the van offers a slew of safety and convenience features. Available in three load lengths corresponding to 5.1 cu. m., 5.8 cu. m. and 6.6 cu. m., the Dispatch features head-up display, infotainment on top-spec, seven-inch touchscreen display with sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, auxiliary input, mirror screen for smartphone, voice command, driver drowsiness alert and blind sport warning among others.

LDV, courtesy SAIC Maxus, displayed the EV80 – a large, fully electric version of the V80 panel van, and a smaller G10 panel van. The EV80 is fitted with a battery of up to 75kWh (depending on the wheelbase), and is claimed ti provide a range of over 180 miles. While the real world estimates are said to be around the 100-mile mark, the EV80 is expected to be a competitive offering when commercially launched. A charging time of two hours at best may not allow high-mileage drivers to operate smoothly given their need for a quick top-up in the middle of the day. An electrified version of the V80 panel van, itself a simple facelift of the LDV Maxus, the EV80’s payload ranges from 900 kg to 1,250 kg. The G10 is a mid-sized panel van, that is also available as a luxurious MPV. It is powered by a 105 hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. A 2.0-litre diesel engine will follow. A manual transmission is also expected soon.

The Peugeot Expert, like the Citreon Dispatch, is offered in three load lengths and two engines sizes. Styling of the van, except for some detailed changes and a Peugeot logo, are not overtly different. Neither in terms of the ability to cheat the wind, or to make more space for storage. Available with a gross weight of 2.7-tonne, 2.9-tonne and 3-tonne, the Expert features driver assistance and comfort systems like automatic side loading doors, which open when one waves his or her foot underneath the rear bumper. There’s also a seven-inch touchscreen display offered. It has the ability to mirror certain applications on the smartphone. Also offered are front and rear parking sensors.

The second-generation Toyota Proace van – based on the Citreon Dispatch, features distinctive lights, grille and bumper. The seating position is high, and the driver’s seat does not slide back as much. The dashboard is also raised and could hamper visibility for those that are not as tall. Available in two trim levels, the van includes three front seats, driver’s armrest, stereo radio with Bluetooth and USB, central locking with speed limiter. Top-spec comfort gets driver’s seat-height adjustment, combination cloth and vinyl upholstery, an upgraded radio system, air-con, cooled and illuminated glovebox, remote central locking among others. The Smart Cargo system with an opening bulkhead and lifting passenger seat clears 1,160 mm extra load length. The 1.6-litre engine is available in a 94 hp and 113 hp power rating. The 2.0-litre engine is available in a 122 hp, 148 hp and 178 hp power rating. Transmission on the smaller displacement engine could be a five-speed manual, six-speed manual and a six-speed automated unit. The 22.5-litre AdBlue tank should last around 9,300 miles. Load volumes on offer are 5.1 cu. m., 5.8 cu. m. and 6.6 cu. m.

DFSK displayed a C Series Combi Van along with some big cab models. Putting a Chinese van producer in the thick of competition in a market that is saturated and fiercely competitive, the C series has more space for loads and can handle greater weights. The narrow dimensions means it can reach areas where conventional commercial vehicles cannot. Targeted at both, rural and inner city tradesmen, the van is powered by a 115 hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine mounted under the front seats. No plans for a diesel engine have been revealed yet. Designed for shorter trips, the C31 is expected to be the most popular.

Iveco put its largest ever line-up of trucks and vans on display. At the forefront was the new Daily Euro 6 with new 2.3- and 210 hp, 3.0-litre diesel engines with low-pressure EGR. A shift to SCR will follow in 2017 for 2.3; 3.0 is already SCR fitted. Promising higher fuel efficiency and longer service intervals apart from a reduction in noise inside the cab for its vans, Iveco also displayed the Style van. It is available in a range of 3.5- to 7.2-tonnes. Load space range from 7.3 cu. m. to 19.6 cu. m. To assist van users in their business, the Italian company has also developed a range of apps. that link to tablets and smartphones, and range from infotainment to driving style evaluation, sat-nav and roadside services. Apart from the Daily Euro and Style, Iveco displayed a zero-emissions new Daily Electric; new Daily 4×4, which looks like a halfway house between the Mercedes Unimog and a Land Rover Defender, and a new Eurocargo mid-weight truck for the road sweeper industry. The Eurocargo mid-weight truck is available as a running chassis as well. It will be offered in 7.5-, 12-, 15- and 18-tonne variants, and in left-hand drive, right-hand drive and dual steer configurations.

Volkswagen displayed a Crafter tipper conversion and a transporter van. Renault used the design, technology and conversions theme to demonstrate the many attributes of its van (LCV) range. Eleven models illustrated the diversity and versatility of the extensive Renault LCV range with models on display including the Master LHL35 RWD with a massive 17 cu. m. load space. The most innovative were the Twizy Cargo and Kangoo Z.E. electric vehicles. Ford did not bring anything new to the show. It however more than endorsed its strong position in the van space with models like the Transit Custom, Fiesta Sport Van, Transit Courier Kombi Base, Transit Connect Trend, and Transit Trend. Ford also unveiled the next-gen 2.0 TDCi VI compliant engines, engineered to meet strict Euro 6 emissions standards. These would be available in 105PS, 130PS and 170PS power outputs. Fiat Professional displayed its range of vans.


Fiat Professional’s new Fullback pickup is its first ever one-tonne pickup. It is based on the Mitsubishi L200 Series 5, and is powered by a 152 hp, 2.4-litre engine mated to a six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions. Towing capacity is 3.1-tonne. Ford also unveiled the new Ranger XL pickup. Celebrating 100 years of operations, Isuzu teamed up with Iceland-based Arctic Trucks to offer a special-edition model of the D-Max called the D-Max AT35. The pickup features upgraded suspension (raised by 125mm), attractive styling cues and specialist off-road Nokian Rotiiva AT tyres. The D-Max Centurion pickup also debuted at the fair. Only 100 will be made available, finished in ‘Fjord blue’. They will feature 19-inch black and silver ‘Hurricane’ alloy wheels, leather trim, an 8-inch touchscreen and a rear view camera apart from a ceiling mounted 10.2-inch monitor at the back.

Toyota displayed the eight generation Hilux pickup. Available in different cab types, single and double, the Hilux cabin is more car-like. There’s double glovebox, a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav among a host of other functions. New engine is a 150 PS, 2.4-litre turbo-diesel unit mated to a six-speed manual and a six-speed auto transmission. With a towing capacity of 3500 kg, the Hilux features pre-collision system, lane departure warning, ‘auto’ high beam and traffic sign assistance. With plenty of accessories to offer, the Hilux chassis is 20 per cent stiffer than that of the earlier generation model. Rear continues to flaunt a leaf spring suspension with two shock absorbers. Expected to carry over a tonne, the Hilux pickup features a wider load bed at 1645 mm. The tail gate is stronger, and the hinges have been suitably strengthened too. Ssangyong displayed the Korando pickup. Volkswagen displayed the Amarok pickup. It is powered by an all-new six cylinder 3.0-litre turbo-diesel unit and measures 5.25 m in length and 2.23 m in width. The pickup offers a load volume of 2.52 cu. m.

Auto transmission solution for refuse trucks

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Allison Transmission has proved to be the solution for Romaquip’s 40DAF LF refuse trucks.

Story by:

Team CV

Refuse trucks are a specialised lot. Their needs and ways of operating differ from those of the other trucks by a good measure. It should not come as a surprise therefore that 40 out of the 160 DAF LF180 trucks ordered by the UK kerbside collection market leader Romaquip were fitted with Allison 2500 fully automatic transmission. The Allison automatic transmission has been mated with the four-cylinder 4.5-litre Paccar PX-5 engine that powers the new twelve-tonne trucks. The engine could be had in three variants, and the power rating ranges between 150 hp and 210 hp. The peak torque ranges between 580 Nm and 760 Nm. Offering Euro 6 technology with the lowest emissions, the PX-5 engine can go up to 60,000 miles between service intervals. The active particulate filter only needs cleaning after 320,000 km or five years. Various engine functions and components are clustered in a single module.

Said Romaquip technical director, John McKeown, that the preferred transmission for the refuse and municipal sector is an Allison due to its quality, reliability and the ability to protect the driveline. He mentioned, “We were able to work with the DAF engineering team based in Leyland to secure the release of an ideal specification for our application.” An Allison automatic transmission was selected over an automated manual transmission as it was not found to be suitable for the creeping speed and multiple stop-start conditions the vehicle would face. Explained McKeown, “The creeping speeds and multiple start-stop conditions that the vehicle would face meant that an automated manual transmission would not be preferable.” “We chose Allison because there was no option available in case of the 4-cylinder Euro 6 engine,” he added.

Romaquip, according to McKeown, also considered the six-cylinder DAF LF220 with an Allison 3000 Series transmission. That configuration however would have added half a tonne, putting too much additional weight on the front axle. “The Allison 2500 model is a godsend to our sector,” expressed McKeown. Romaquip entered the kerbside collection market in 2011 with its Kerb-Sort vehicle, the first with a fully automated unloading system. Able to separate 10 kinds of fully segregated, unpolluted waste in a single pass, Romaquip guarantees off-loading in just seven minutes. A stainless steel, compartmentalised body extends the normal vehicle life of five to seven years to 10 to 14 years, reducing lifetime ownership costs by protecting against corrosion and high maintenance costs. The inclusion of Allison transmission is expected to help Romaquip to be assured of its driveline being protected. This would reduce the unnecessary maintenance expenses, requiring only scheduled fluid and filter changes. Since the vehicle can compact up to four tonnes of payload into a 35 cubic metre collection space, McKeown opined that the vehicle weight was critical in the specification process. The first 40 trucks are now in operation for local authority fleets in Wrexham, the Lake District, Devon and Flintshire.

Claimed to be the most efficient kerbside collection vehicle on the market, Romaquip’s Kerb-Sort is ergonomically designed, user friendly and efficient to operate during collection and offloading. Capable of functioning effectively with two operators and is set up for maximum health and safety, the Kerb-Sort vehicle is also fuel-efficient. As befits a recycling vehicle, it has impeccable green credentials. Helping it to achieve impeccable green credentials are features like compartments that can be assigned to different materials depending on the recycling priorities; on board compacting to ensure a higher payload, and an ability to unload in seven minutes flat – that too with the operation carried out from the cab.

Allison’s 2500 fully automatic transmission incorporates a torque converter and planetary gears apart from advanced electronic controls. Featuring Continuous Power Technology, which prevents power loss during shifting to deliver the highest productivity and fuel efficiency, the 2500 transmission employs a torque converter with a lock up clutch and five forward and one reverse gear ratios.