Hyundai Fuel Cell van revealed at IAA

22 September 2016

A van that emits only water and can be refuelled in the same amount of time as a conventional diesel LCV has made its debut at this week’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany.

Shown as a concept, the Hyundai H350 Fuel Cell is based on the Korean firm’s new Turkish-built panel van and minibus range, but uses similar technology to that found in the company’s iX35 FCV SUV, the world’s first mass production fuel cell car.

Unlike a conventional electric vehicle, which requires a number of hours to recharge, the 175-litre hydrogen tank can be filled in less than four minutes – similar to the time it takes to refill a tank of diesel in a conventional van. The H350 Fuel Cell Concept has a total range of 422 km (260 miles), and emits only water.

The powertrain is packaged under the van floor, so it has no impact on the load area. Depending on wheelbase, the H350 provides 10.5 m3 or 12.9 m3 of space – sufficient to accommodate five standard European pallets – or room for a 14-seat passenger compartment.

The Fuel Cell driveline also enables near silent operation, making it ideal for night deliveries in urban areas.

The equivalent power output of the engine is 134bhp, enough to give it a top speed of 150km/h (95mph).

The H350 Fuel Cell’s powertrain is formed of a hydrogen tank, fuel cell stack, high-voltage battery pack, inverter, and electric motor. The 700-bar high-pressure hydrogen tanks, located under the floor of the vehicle between the two axles, store 7.05 kg of compressed hydrogen, which is then broken down into protons and electrons in the fuel cell stack. The electricity produced by the fuel stack is then stored in a compact 24 kW lithium-polymer battery pack, with the inverter converting the energy to an alternating current to power a 100kW electric motor.

Electric Volkswagen Crafter ‘with customers by 2017’

22 September 2016

Volkswagen has unveiled its vision of emissions-free urban deliveries in the form of the eCrafter, a new all-electric version of the company’s new large panel van .

Revealed at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany, the eCrafter has an underfloor battery pack made up of 312 cells and has a range of over 200km (125 miles) depending on payload.

It can carry loads of up to 1,709kg and has a top speed of 80km/h (50mph), with 290Nm of torque meaning lively acceleration. The eCrafter is said to be ideal for urban deliveries thanks to its zero emissions capability and near silent running.

Although shown as a concept, Volkswagen says a Crafter-based EV has been part of the company’s plans since the model’s inception, and that series production is merely months away.

“The first e-Crafter vehicles will already be in customers’ hands by 2017,” said Dr Eckhard Scholz, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Bosch unveils its vision of future truck

22 September 2016

Automotive technology and systems specialist, Bosch, has revealed its vision of the truck of the future at this week’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany.

The Bosch Vision X is the brainchild of a new division of the German company, CVO, which is developing new technologies for commercial vehicle and off-road applications. It shows how autonomy is set to play a key role in the future of freight transport over the next decade.

According to Bosch, the truck represents transport in 2026, where drivers have become logistics managers and the internet is king.

“The truck of the future will be a 40-ton smart device on wheels,” said Bosch board member Dr Markus Heyn. “The truckers of the future will go from being drivers to serving as logistics managers.”

Bosch says that, by 2026, truck drivers’ roles will encompass various freight forwarding tasks, including transport status checks via cloud, responding to emails, organising routes, and adjusting them to take on additional cargo.

To accommodate these demands, Bosch believes the future trucks will be fully connected, with the ability to run in platoons being a major feature.

“Smart connectivity and automation will enable Vision X to navigate traffic on the freeway itself, mostly without driver intervention,” said Dr Heyn.

“This will give drivers time to take care of other tasks, such as planning routes, processing shipping documents, or simply taking a break.”

Platooning, which allows multiple trucks to connect and run in an autonomous road train, could increase safety, reliability and efficiency. Bosch claims the slipstreaming effect of platooning could cut fuel consumption by up to 10 percent. Bosch connected technology also allows drivers to reserve and pay for secure parking spaces through a single app.

Among other features on the Vision X are a ‘haptic’ touchscreen, which gives drivers sensual feedback through their fingers to avoid taking their eyes off the road, large visual displays compatible with both Android and iOS devices, and digital exterior mirrors with video sensors and screens inside the cab.

Feature: Truck concepts dominate IAA Hannover CV Show

22 September 2016

Autonomy, alternative propulsion, sustainability and the road to an emissions-free future were the key themes as the biennial IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover opened its doors this week, supported by an array of concept vehicles from the big truck manufacturers.

Two years ago, the halls were filled with brand new Euro 6 trucks, but in 2016 it was a case of concept rather than production vehicles taking centre stage.

One stand-out vision of trucking’s future was Iveco’s Concept Z Truck. The company has positoned itself as an alternative fuels leader, with its Concept Z powered by a combination of liquefied natural gas and bio-methane, giving it zero-emissions capability. Iveco also claims a zero accident rate is possible, thanks to new collision avoidance technology through its autonomous systems.

“We won’t get rid of the driver and the cab, but the role of the driver is set to change,” commented Pierre Lahutte, Iveco brand president. “They will still be expected to drive sometimes, but the cab will become more like an office.”

Iveco revealed that the Concept Z Truck has 29 patents, all relating to technologies that will be seen on Iveco trucks in the next few years.

Meanwhile, across the halls, Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus boss, Wolfgang Bernhard, pointed to the fact that cities are now home to 75% of the world’s population and highlighted the logistical problem that brings for operators.

“We are pioneering e-mobility, connectivity and autonomous driving,” he said. Promising a “new kind of vehicle” Bernhard introduced the eTruck – the world’s first fully-electric heavy-duty distribution truck, which could be on sale as early as 2020. Offering a 12.8-tonne payload and a two-hour charging time, the eTruck is claiming a range of 200 miles from its lithium-ion battery.

“The starting point was our customer base and their expectations from future trucks,” said Sven Ennerst, head of project engineering for the concept. “They want a vehicle that offers zero emissions and that is what we are proposing. The price tag will be higher than a conventional truck, but we are working on reducing that, plus the lower operating costs will help counter the extra initial costs.”

It wasn’t just the manufacturers getting in on the concept act. Supplier Bosch presented its Vision X truck, the company’s take on what driving a truck might be like in the next decade.

Bosch says it sees the role of the driver changing as more autonomy is adopted in heavy-duty transport operations. “The driver will take on the role of the logistics manager in the future. When the truck is in autonomous mode, they will be able to undertake other tasks such as reporting damaged trailers, processing orders or booking anything from coffee to meals to parking at at service station,” explained Markus Heyn, Bosch board member.

“When the driver gets into the cab, a cockpit camera checks his face and verifies he is able and qualified to drive. The truck will offer automatic docking capability and displays on the windscreen will provide a wealth of information for the driver about his load, journey and vehicle,” he added.

Built-in sensors ensure that full automation mode can be enabled, allowing the vehicle to join convoys, or platoons – the screen displaying how long the truck can be part of a road chain and also what the fuel costs will be. The driver is then able to confirm whether or not to join the convoy.

Staying with current day technologies, and Volvo was celebrating 15 years of I-Shift. The Swedish firm’s CEO, Claus Nielsen, revealed that the technology was now installed in 92% of Volvo trucks around the world and 95% of those sold in Europe. He also highlighted the I-Shift dual clutch transmission as an integral part of the 2,400bhp Iron Knight record-breaking truck.

Volvo was one of the many manufacturers and suppliers highlighting the advantages and potential benefits of connectivity between fleet vehicles and between individual trucks and workshops. “We have 300,000 connected trucks already on the roads around the world and we see an extension of the communication between the truck and the workshop, which leads to increased uptime,” said Nielsen. “We believe that these figures could continue to rise because fewer workshop visits will be required as drivers will be able to download and install software updates themselves, while on the move.”

Flying the flag for the UK, engine builder Cummins brought a bit of British heritage to Germany along with some new technology on its stand. The heavy-duty engine manufacturer, whose technologies featured on more than half the trucks and buses on display at the IAA, showed the cleanest old bus operating in Europe. The 1962 Routemaster 1005 has undergone a Cummins re-power and now has a B4.5 Euro 6 diesel under the bonnet, with 150bhp.

Meanwhile, designed for more modern vehicles around the world, the company introduced its next-generation X-Series engines, which meet Euro 6 and equivalent standards. The 15- and 12-litre units feature power outputs from 350bhp to 605bhp.

It wasn’t all about the heavy end of the spectrum in Hannover, though, with a number of developments in the van industry also in focus.

As well as its eTruck, Mercedes-Benz presented an LCV concept in the form of the Vision Van. The electric-powered model featured a stremalined cab design, a range of up to 270km and roof-mounted drones to aid urban distribution.

More zero-emissions electric propulsion came courtesy of Volkswagen, which unveiled its eCrafter Concept along with the promise that a production version would be in the hands of customers as early as next year. Equipped with a 100kW motor (providing 290Nm of torque) and a 312-cell battery pack, the van can carry up to 1.7-tonnes over 125 miles between charges.

Away from pure electric power, Hyundai thrust its new H350 into the spotlight with a concept model powered by the same fuel cell technology as seen in its iX35 SUV, the first commercially avaiable fuel cell car.

Nissan also showed a concept ‘rescue’ version of its Navara pick-up. Called the ENGuard, the electric-powered truck comes complete with a camera-equipped drone to help in search and recue operations.

Finally, two new vans were revealed for the first time. MAN took the wraps of Volkswagen Crafter-based TGE, which will offer three power trains, ranging from 101bhp to 174bhp, and will cover the 3-5.5-tonne range. Two wheelbases, three roof heights and three vehicle lengths will be available when production starts in Poland next year. The second all-new model was the British-built Nissan Nv300, the new mid-size panel van derived from the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic, which will be be constructed at GM’s LCV plant at Luton.

Self-learning brakes could be key to autonomy

22 September 2016

A braking system that learns how to operate in conjunction with autonomous software will help truck makers meet the demands of future technology, claims the manufacturer.

Knorr-Bremse’s Global Scalable Brake Control (GSBC), revealed at this week’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany, makes use of the scope offered by modern software.

Bernd Spies, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Commerical Vehicle Systems, said, “GSBC offers an ideal platform for driver assistance functions by providing the central element in the kind of efficient architecture required for tomorrow’s highly-automated driving.”

“A key role is played by its open software architecture and powerful, highly scalable processor family. Improved self-learning functions for the brake control system offer vehicle manufacturers potential cost savings.”

GSBC’s modular design enables components to be combined and configured to suit different installations, based on size and architecture of a vehicle. The routing of cables, compressed air lines and connection points have all been simplified, as have the individual components themselves.

This has the potential to reduce manufacturers’ adaptation costs across an entire spectrum of vehicles, whether an ABS system in a standard tractor unit is involved, or an electronic braking system in a more complex four-axle special-purpose vehicle.

The self-learning system can be integrated with vehicle software to identify certain parameters, for example, wheel spacing, vehicle weight and steering geometry, and adapt accordingly in order to work properly in autonomous applications.

Electric vans deliver for Jersey Post

21 September 2016

A fleet of 15 all-electric Nissan e-NV200 vans has gone into service with Jersey Post

The Channel Island’s postal service will use the zero emission vehicles to deliver mail on multi-drop routes across Jersey following an 18-month trial.

Supplied by local dealer Freelance Nissan, the e-NV200s are claimed to reduce the postal service’s carbon footprint by as much as 35 tonnes a year.

They are the first electric vehicles to be added to the company’s fleet of more than 100 vehicles and are supplied with a five year, 100,000-mile warranty.

Andy Jehan, Director of Operations at Jersey Post, said, “The Nissan e-NV200 was the right vehicle for us on every level. The vans are going to make a very significant contribution to lowering the environmental impact of our fleet and they’re also ideal for the short distance, stop/start driving that the job involves.”

“The value is exceptional too, our decision to switch being ultimately based on the financial projections we have made on whole life costs. If our projections prove accurate, then there’s no reason why many more of our vehicles shouldn’t be electric.”

The e-NV200 is based on the Nissan NV200 panel van and uses similar running gear to the Nissan LEAF electric car.

Low carbon powertrains win awards recognition

21 September 2016

Two innovations that promise to dramatically change traditional commercial vehicle powertrains have been jointly awarded the highest accolade possible from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP).

LowCVP’s ‘Grand Prix’ award, announced as part of the Low Carbon Champions Awards at the Cenex LCV2016 Show last week, is shared by H2 Aberdeen and Argent Energy.

H2 Aberdeen – which has developed a strategy for the introduction of cleaner, hydrogen-powered transport to the Scottish city – and Argent Energy – which has developed a drop‐in diesel replacement for cars, buses and trucks – were jointly presented with the winner of winners award.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project – H2 Aberdeen – has introduced Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses. The project has delivered the UK’s largest hydrogen production and bus refuelling station. The bus companies report that the vehicles are proving to be extremely efficient compared to their diesel equivalents.

Argent Energy manufactures 60 million litres of biodiesel from waste each year. In 2015 Argent supplied high bio‐blend diesel to two major London bus companies. After a year of supplying these companies, the greenhouse gas emission savings will be equivalent to 150 million miles of carbon-free travel, based on DfT figures.

LowCVP Managing Director Andy Eastlake said, “All the entries shortlisted for the Champions Awards deserve recognition for the contribution they are making to cutting carbon emissions from road transport.”

“There is a lot of work still to be done to achieve the long-term objectives set under the Climate Change Act, but the dynamism and determination shown by so many of those involved today shows how UK industry and operators have the drive and potential to achieve them.”

The Champions Awards judging panel was comprised of 22 senior executives from across a range of UK organisations with a stake in the low carbon road transport agenda.

Richard Bruce, Director Energy, Technology and Innovation at the Department for Transport – one of the Awards judges – said, “It’s fantastic to see another array of ground-breaking companies vying for the Low Carbon Champions Awards this year. It’s precisely because of the synergies between environmental improvement and great commercial opportunity – synergies that the ideas and technologies here demonstrate so well – that the UK Government remains so committed to this agenda.”

New electric bus revealed at Cenex

21 September 2016

A brand new electric bus made its UK debut at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s Cenex event at Millbrook, Beds, last week.

The new 10.8-metre BYD eBus has been developed specifically for the requirements of the UK market, where demand exists for more compact zero emissions vehicles for use on congested urban routes.

The BYD 10.8m can carry 76 passengers, 26 of them seated. The range on a full charge is 211 miles via two 90kW electric motors, and the batteries can be recharged in only 4 hours.

BYD has a partnership with Scottish coachbuilder Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL), which supplies the bodies for the buses. This gives local authorities the chance to procure British built buses with full EV-capability, with the first deliveries due in spring 2017.

Until now, the BYD 12m eBus has been the standard offering in the UK, of which 13 are shortly to enter service in Nottingham, BYD’s first major fleet order outside London.

The Nottingham vehicle is similar to the 51 buses now entering service with Go-Ahead Group on behalf of Transport for London – the largest fleet of full size electric buses in Europe – the first of which were put into service on September 9.

BYD UK’s Country Manager, Frank Thorpe, said, “The availability of a 10.8m version of the eBus alongside the 12m enables us to meet the needs of a broader community of British operators, particularly some in provincial cities.”

“All BYD buses and coaches are designed to complete a full day’s duty cycle on a single charge. This avoids unwanted downtime and enables low cost off peak electricity to be used.”

London welcomes Europe’s largest electric bus fleet

Posted on: September 13, 2016

Europe’s largest fleet of fully electric buses has gone into service in London, built in the UK as a partnership between Scottish bus maker Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL) and Chinese constructor BYD.

The fleet was inaugurated last week at a special ceremony at London’s Waterloo bus garage, where the capital’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, and Xu Qin, the Mayor of Shenzhen, BYD’s home city, welcomed them into service.

The 51 new buses will be operated by Go-Ahead London from its Waterloo depot, servicing two Transport for London routes – 507 and 521. The order for the BYD ADL Enviro200EV buses follows a three-year trial of two BYD vehicles from the same garage and on the same routes. The trial proved that they could consistently run a 16-hour shift without a recharge being necessary.

The buses come with ADL’s lightweight aluminium body, manufactured in Falkirk, Scotland, and will feature USB charging points for customer convenience.

A total of 43 recharging posts capable of powering 46 buses have been installed in the depot, with a with a further five located at the nearby Mandela Way garage where five buses will be based.

According to TfL figures, roughly seven million passengers use buses on routes 507 and 521 every year. The buses covered in total over 1.1 million km (685,000 miles) in the year to April 2016. The BYD ADL Enviro200EV buses supplied to Go-Ahead can carry 90 passengers, 21 of them seated. They feature a regenerative braking system which feeds power from kinetic energy recovered during braking and deceleration back into the battery.

BYD is also trialling the world’s first pure electric double deckers – five are in service with London operator Metroline on behalf of TfL and future versions will be built in partnership with ADL.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “These first two electric bus routes right through the heart of London are another step towards the end of conventional diesel buses on our roads. This will deliver extensive air quality benefits and position us as a true world leader in adopting ultra-low emission vehicle technology.”

Volvo autonomous truck ‘going underground’

Posted on: September 14, 2016

Swedish truck maker Volvo is the first manufacturer in the world to introduce a fully autonomous truck into an underground working environment.

The company’s FMX tipper has begun full scale testing at the Boliden mine in Kristineberg, Sweden, where it will be tested inside the earth at a distance of up to four miles into the mine, and a depth of 4,330 feet (1,320m).

Torbjörn Holmström, Volvo Group Chief Technology Officer, said, “This is the world’s first fully self-driving truck to operate under such tough conditions. It is a true challenge to ensure that everything works meticulously more than 1,300 metres underground.”

To prove the technology, Holmström took part in a film where he stood in the middle of the mine gallery as the truck approached.

“No matter what type of vehicle we develop, safety is always our primary concern and this also applies to self-driving vehicles,” he said. “I was convinced the truck would stop, but naturally I felt a knot in my stomach until the truck applied its brakes.”

Using various sensors, the FMX Tipper continuously monitors its surroundings and avoids both fixed and moving obstacles. At the same time, an on-board transport system gathers data to optimise and coordinate the route and fuel consumption.

Volvo believes that a driverless truck such as the FMX could be of huge benefit to the mining industry in terms of productivity, as autonomous vehicles would not need to be cleared from mines during blasting periods, nor would they have to wait for new mine galleries to be vented before being used inside them.