Scania tests next-generation electric vehicles

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with two exciting new technologies

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks. Inductive and conductive means of energy transfer offer two exciting future technologies that are presently being tested.

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologies
Scania G 360 4×2 with pantograph, electrically powered truck at the Siemens eHighway.
Gross Dölln, Germany
Photos: Dan Boman 2013

Electric power from the roadway for vehicle operations offers promising opportunities. With conductive electrical transmission through overhead lines or induction through the road surface, vehicles can be completely electrically powered on electrified road sections.

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks. Inductive and conductive means of energy transfer offer two exciting future technologies that are presently being tested.

Scania is presently testing two technologies in this field: Scania’s powertrain technology with a hybrid powertrain can be supplemented by conductive electrical transmission through overhead lines, or Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiespowered through the road surface using induction, and thus become completely electrically powered on electrified road sections.

In conductivity, Scania and Siemens are operating trials with electrically powered trucks equipped with a pantograph power collector mounted on the frame behind the cab. The truck receives power from overhead lines similar to trains and trams. With this collaboration, Sweden may become the world’s first country with electrified trucks and roads for commercial use.

Connects in motion

Initially, tests will be carried out to ensure satisfactory contact between the pantograph unit and the overhead wires. Unlike trolleybuses, the truck can connect and disconnect to the overhead wires while Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesin motion. The pantograph is as wide as the truck, 2.6 metres, to ensure uninterrupted contact with the overhead Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologieswires also when the driver adjusts the vehicle’s position in the lane.

 

Tests of the truck with the power electrification system as a whole are now being conducted on Siemens’s two-kilometre long test track in Gross Dölln outside Berlin.

“Systems with overhead lines are especially suitable in regular transport routes from point to point, such as between steel mills and ports and between mines and processing plants,” says Christer Thorén at Scania’s Hybrid Systems Development Department.

Power from roads

In parallel, Scania has teamed up Bombardier to test wireless inductive electric charging from roads. Trials with this new technology are presently being conducted at Bombardier’s test facility in Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesMannheim, Germany. Inductive energy transfer can be an especially appealing solution in cities as a more convenient alternative to trolleybuses and trams.

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologies
Bombardier Induction Pad

The test truck has been equipped with a 2×1-metre electric power pickup under the truck, a large power collector that receives electric energy. Approximately 200 kW power is transferred across an air gap of up to 100 mm between the road and truck. In initial tests, Scania primarily seeks to determine the amount of energy losses and how they vary according the vehicle’s position and distance to the road surface. What is the greatest possible distance between the road and pickup and how much can the vehicle deviate from the road centre without incurring energy losses?

Sensors activate energy transfer

Under the truck there are sensors that activate energy transfer from the road. This occurs in close proximity to the approaching vehicle and the energy supply is “turned off” when other traffic and pedestrians are on the road.

Modular approach

These new electrification technologies are being developed as integral parts of Scania’s modular system with standardised interfaces and a limited amount of components that offer customers a wide choice of tailored vehicles. Scania thereby ensures that also its electrified vehicles will be cost-effective, versatile and easily handled and maintained in workshops.

Scania to test electrically powered trucks in real-life conditions

In February 2016, Scania will start testing electric trucks on the electric road which Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologieswill become a reality as the Swedish Transport Administration has now approved support for the Gävle Electric Road project. The project will demonstrate and evaluate conductive technology, which involves electrical transmission through overhead lines above vehicles equipped with a pantograph power collector.

The investment in the Gävle Electric Road project is in line with the Government’s goal of an energy-efficient and fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030 and will help to strengthen Sweden’s competitiveness. Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesThe project consists of about SEK 77 million in public financing combined with about SEK 48 million in co-financing from the business community and the Gävleborg region.

Scania’s trucks will operate goods transport services on a two-kilometre test route, which is being built between the Port of Gävle and Storvik along European highway 16. The trucks are equipped with an electric hybrid powertrain developed by Scania. Power to the trucks is transferred from overhead lines Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesthrough a pantograph power collector mounted on the frame behind the cab. This technology has been developed by Siemens, which since 2013 has conducted trials of electrified trucks together with Scania at its research facility outside Berlin.

The possibility of operating heavy trucks using electricity in this way means that the truck’s flexibility to perform transport tasks using electricity and as a regular hybrid truck is maintained, while up to 80-90 percent of the fossil fuel emissions disappear. Operating costs will be low as much less energy is required due to the efficiency of the electric engine, while electricity is a cheaper source of energy than diesel.

“The potential fuel savings though electrification are considerable and the technology can become a cornerstone for fossil-free road transport services. Electric roads are also a way to develop more eco-friendly transport services by using the existing road network,” says Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, who is responsible for Scania’s research in this field.

The demonstration facility for conductive technology is part of the Electric Roads Project, which is one of the largest innovation procurement projects currently under way in Europe. In cooperation with the Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesSwedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Energy Agency and VINNOVA, industry and academia will demonstrate and evaluate electric roads as a possible method for reducing the use of fossil energy in the transport system.

Participants in the Gävle Electric Roads project include Gävleborg Region, Siemens and Scania as well as Boliden, SSAB, Sandvik, Stora Enso, Ernst Express, Midroc Elektro, Sandviken Energi, the Port of Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesGävle, Gävle Energi and the Stockholm School of Economics. The Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish National Electrical Safety Board and the Swedish Transport Agency have also collaborated closely with the project.

Scania is also participating in another research initiative as part of the Electric Roads Project, where induction technology will be tested in city bus services. A Scania city bus featuring an electric hybrid powertrain will go into daily operation in Södertälje starting in June 2016. There will be a charging station at one of the bus stops where the bus will be able to refill with enough energy in just six-seven minutes to complete the entire journey.

FACTS Opinion

Facts absolutely applauds Scania’s efforts at advancing the concept of running trucks and buses on electrical power, but surely stringing overhead power cables, as we see in many of our towns and cities running trams, cannot be the way forward. Apart from anything else, the cost of building the infrastructure to support this on a wide scale would be absolutely prohibitive.

As Christer Thorén suggests, it might be conceivable to set these systems up on very specific routes, probably rather short, between ports and local RDCs for example, or between a production facility and a railhead. However the value of this approach in terms of cutting costs and emissions would be very limited, and surely more elegant and less cumbersome solutions could be engineered. It seems very unlikely that trucks with pantographs running on overhead electrical transmission systems will ever be a common site on our roads.

Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesHowever the concept of the electric truck is here to stay and, in the long term (Possibly the very long term!) this has to be the direction for the manufacturers, and the industry, to pursue. It is interesting

that Scania is also working with Bombardier to evaluate the idea of charging buses through in-ground induction systems. The advantage of this system for buses is of course that they make regular stops in predetermined spots, and can park above the plate for a quick recharge on a regular basis. This unfortunately doesn’t work with trucks. It might be possible to charge them overnight using this technology but if they are static for six or eight hours, why not simply plug them in.

It might however be possible to extend this idea to build a recharge matrix, perhaps two or three kilometres long, into the road surface of a motorway, delivering a fast charge to any vehicle driving along above it. And billing them accordingly. This should be possible to do technically without causing too much disruption, but whether the amount of charging that could be done would be sufficient to make the exercise worthwhile would require a lot of careful investigation. The core issue remains the same however. The main problem with electric trucks still lies in the weight of our current battery technologies. Until we find a light-weight, hi-power, long-charge battery technology, or a different technology altogether, then we will be stuck with heavy trucks, each and every one of them sucking lots of diesel and AdBlue. Fingers-crossed then for a technology breakthrough, preferably one that doesn’t involve overhead cabling and drag-inducing pantographs.

 

Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications, and of industrial and marine engines. Service-related products account for a growing Scania has since the 1980s explored the possibilities of electrifying the powertrain in buses and trucks with  two exciting new technologiesproportion of the company’s operations, assuring Scania customers of cost-effective transport solutions and maximum uptime. Scania also offers financial services. Employing some 42,000 people, the company operates in about 100 countries. Research and development activities are concentrated in Sweden, while production takes place in Europe and South America, with facilities for global interchange of both components and complete vehicles. In 2014, net sales totalled SEK 92.1 billion and net income amounted to SEK 6 billion.

For more information: www.scania.com

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