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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.

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