Volvo and Alison seek to eliminate emissions from diesel trucks with electric transmissions

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The diesel engine helped usher in one of the most profitable economic expansions in human history, but it has some drawbacks, chiefly the fact that the carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides emitted from the smokestacks of exhaust from diesel-powered trucks have a greater influence on the environment. and on human health than their relatively small number would suggest.

Then there’s the matter of fine particles, nasty little bits of dirt so small they pass directly into the bloodstream in humans, and lodge in vital organs such as the brain, liver, kidneys , gonads, placenta and other important parts of the body. [Then again, all body parts are rather important, with the possible exception of the appendix and tonsils.]

Companies like Volvo Trucks and Alison are aware of the disadvantages associated with diesel engines and are ready to do something about them by pushing for the transition to battery electric vehicles instead. It’s not only good for the Earth and those who live on it, it’s also smart business.

Volvo electric trucks replace diesel engines

Many heavy-duty diesel trucks spend their lives going 50 feet and stopping, 50 feet and stopping, over and over again throughout their useful life. For much of the workday, they idle before the next forward progress, spitting out those harmful emissions all day, every day.

Battery electric trucks do two things that diesel trucks cannot. They create no emissions when stationary and they use regenerative braking when slowing down. This puts some energy back into the battery and prevents brake wear – a significant burden when a 10 tonne truck stops dozens or even hundreds of times a day.

In a press release, Volvo Trucks says it will work with Bucher Municipal to electrify sewer cleaning trucks. By the end of 2023, the two companies plan to deliver up to 80 all-electric sewer cleaner trucks to cities across Europe. Bucher is a leading supplier of municipal vehicles such as street sweepers, winter maintenance equipment, dumpsters and sewer cleaning trucks. It partnered with Volvo Trucks to develop an all-electric sewer cleaner built on the Volvo FL Electric truck. These 80 sewer cleaning trucks represent half of Bucher’s annual production.

“We have optimized the technology of our successful urban sewer solution to meet the special demands of working in urban areas, where regulations regarding CO2 and diesel emissions have been tightened,” says Per Lovring, CEO of Bucher Municipal Denmark. “Electrifying vehicles like ours can be demanding, but Volvo Trucks has proven over many years that it can successfully deliver extremely reliable and well-documented battery solutions for buses, trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. Our partnership with Volvo Trucks is a win-win solution,” he says.

Volvo Trucks’ target is for electric models to account for half of its truck sales by 2030. Volvo Trucks was the market leader for all-electric heavy-duty trucks in Europe in 2021 with a market share of 42%.

“With this agreement with Bucher Municipal, we are taking a very important strategic step towards the electrification of one of the most complicated and demanding tasks in our urban environments. We are proud to have Bucher Municipal as a strategic partner, and we hope that this collaboration will bring new insights that will contribute to our goal of electrifying all types of applications,” says Roger Alm, President of Volvo Trucks.

Alison eGen axle for heavy trucks

Alison eGen Axle. Image credit: Alison Transmission

Alison Transmission is an American manufacturer of heavy-duty transmission components located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. At the IFAT heavy-duty vehicle show in Munich, Germany in late May, it plans to showcase its new eGen Power electric axles for use in garbage and municipal vehicles. The electric axle drive is designed to replace the traditional driveline of heavy duty diesel trucks.

According to Electrif, the eGen Power was designed so that the axle fits between the wheels of the trucks, which means little adjustment to the chassis is required. It is a fully integrated, integrated solution compatible with common vehicle chassis, suspension and wheel connections, making it easy to install without significant modifications to existing manufacturing applications.

The complete drive system includes an electric drive system, multi-speed gearbox, oil coolers and pumps. The electric axle drive is designed for use in battery electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and also hybrid applications, according to Allison. Although few details are available, the eGen axle is believed to enable regenerative braking, a major feature that is particularly relevant for heavy duty trucks used in daily stop/start service.

Alison’s announcement makes no mention of batteries, so apparently manufacturers will have to source them independently. However, there is usually plenty of space between the frame rails of heavy-duty trucks to install batteries once the diesel engine, transmission, and driveshaft are removed. [Magna has a similar device for pickup trucks.]

Takeaway meals

Big, snarling diesels have played a vital role in heavy trucks for almost a century. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. But it’s time to move on to cleaner alternatives. Electric trucks like those from Volvo and components like the Alison eGen axle are two important advancements in this essential transition.


 


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