Blue Energy Motors has picked LNG for its maiden long-haul tractor. Prateek Pardeshi looks at the strategy behind the HCV foray.

Chakan-based Blue Energy Motors (BEM) is a startup company with roots firmly in heavy-duty trucking. Joining the green mobility bandwagon albeit the company has opted for a gas-based solution. The company stirred up the market with its foray in the Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) segment with a new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered 4×2 tractor christened 5528. The 55-tonne, 280 hp truck sidelines the discussion on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuell Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). It follows suit the recent launches in favour of LNG as a choice of long-haul. The high density of LNG translates to a longer range on a single fill. Claiming to breach the 1400 km barrier, the truck was showcased at the company’s manufacturing facility. The launch was attended by heavy weight and crusader of green mobility solutions, Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways.

According to Anirudh Bhuwalka, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Energy Motors, the new facility, a smart factory, is the vital cog to the plan taking off. It has a capacity to roll out 10,000 trucks annually and can be replicated in flat 120 days at other sites for expansion. Here the company’s partnership with Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) Industrial, the IVECO Group subsidiary assumes significance as its the latter’s engine that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is relying on. FPT is well known for its gas-based LNG, CNG and bio-methane engines. In this case, BEM has opted for the FPT to make the N67 NG. According to Sylvain Blaise, President Powertrain Business Unit, Iveco Group, the N67 NG supply engine agreement is a testimony. At the same time it enlarges the scope of our partnership confirming our commitment to a larger, more ambitious plan to play a key role in India’s decarbonisation aspirations wherein such alternate engines are expected to play a key role. BEM has selected the engine on account of its compatibility with alternates like CNG and bio-methane giving it a wider canvas to work on for the future range of trucks. At the heart of this foray, the engine is claimed to offer a low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The six-cylinder 6.7-litre engine develops a peak rated power of 280 hp and a peak rated 1000 Nm torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed (plus crawler) Eaton manual, synchromesh transmission unit. The pilot also has access to the trailer brake and the hand brake next to the shifter. For the 5528 to see the light of day, a two-year development cycle is said to have been undertaken. Blaise confirmed, the company has pioneered this technology in Europe. BEM is looking to leverage this and together the partners are known to have carried out specific tweaks to suit the operator needs in India. The end result is said to be at par with diesel engines in operation. There are a few other IPs that BEM is yet to disclose.

The 5528 tractor

The 5528 4×2 tractor bears a striking resemblance to FAW make of trucks plying in China. This is confirmed by the FAW trucks badge on Indian siblings’ components like the key fob, windshield, and headlight assembly. The front fascia stands out with a contemporary design bearing a prominent monogram of BEV. The design takes into account aerodynamics. The cab corner vanes are claimed to cut through any wind resistance and reduce the drag. It is given away by an extended sun visor made prominent by LEDs on either side. The headlights and fog lights are made up of conventional bulbs, and a strip of DRL runs across the headlight lend a premium touch. This DRL doubles up as indicator unlike the use of corner turn indicators in recent models.The fog light integration is unique as it sits just below the headlight and boasts a strong illuminating capability for safer night drives. It is protected by a grille akin to German models. The air dam has a generous suction capability too which lends to the tractor’s appeal. The hood itself is made up of two grille shutters with a chrome strip running all along. Besides aesthetics, the hood allows easy access for maintenance and repairs made easier with the hydraulic struts.

Move over the starboard side, the appeal of the truck is enhanced by a massive Inoxcva make, 1000-litre LNG tank installed right behind the driver cab. The proportions are maintained with a lowered window aimed at reducing the blind spots. There are well integrated indicators spread out over the side profile using a mix of conventional bulbs and LEDs sourced from Hella. The mudguards on the rear are made up of fibre and help BEM shave off weight besides averting premature rusting witnessed with heavier alternatives. The truck plys on MRF steel muscle S3C8 tyres with 295/90 R20 dimensions on both the front and the rear. From the rear, one acknowledges the large glass niche of the driver cab aimed at enhancing driver visibility at the back end. The LED taillights at the rear are a welcome sight too. The fifth wheel coupling from JOST is aimed at offering enhanced stability during turns. The pair of axle duties are done by HanDe Axle. The chassis frame is sourced from Metalsa India Pvt. Ltd; the steering gear is sourced from ZF Steering gear India Ltd and the front and rear shocks are sourced from Marelli.









Contemporary cabin

A three-step ladder makes for an easy ingress and egress. On entering the cabin, one immediately takes to the pilot seat which offers tilt assistance and is height-adjustable coupled with lumbar support. The three-point seat belts are offered as standard for all occupants. The four-spoke steering wheel offers tilt assistance allowing the pilot to settle into a confident seating position. The dashboard comes in a split design with all utilitarian features angled to face the pilot making for an easy viewing. This includes the infotainment system and the HVAC controls. There is ample storage through the glove box, niche above the infotainment system, near the cab light, and spread across the door pockets. A resting couch is provided for added comfort to cater to the pilot shifts.


While the association between BEM and FPT is focused on the commercialisation of the 5528 LNG tractor, one cannot rule out the possibility of future collaborations in the domains like electrification of heavy-duty trucks as per their strategic agreement on green mobility. With the help of FPT and its R&D advances, BEM is confident of achieving the s goal of decarbonising the heavy-transport sector in India. Commenting on the collaboration, Bhuwalka expressed, “Strengthening our partnership with FPT Industrial will enable us to pioneer clean energy solutions including LNG and electric in the upcoming year. The investment demonstrates the full support of FPT Industrial for the growth of BEM in its ambitious plan.”


Also read, Driving Progress

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