EMOSS Electric Trucks: Road Test

Colin Barnett
September 5, 2019

Jump to: About EMOSS, Cost, Market sectors, Transmissions, On the road, Verdict

One of largest and most experienced players in the world of electric trucks is not a global vehicle manufacturer but a family business in a small Dutch town.

EMOSS (which stands for Electric Mobility One Stop Shop) started in 1998 in the agricultural equipment sector, but gradually moved into electric municipal vehicles on a small scale. The knowledge gained from this led it to develop technology used in the original Tesla sports car. The critical reduction box was eventually licensed to a leading automotive transmission company to productionise the technology.

Over time, EMOSS products and developments increased in size and its first electric truck conversion, an MAN 12-tonner, was completed in 2009. Since then it has moved through a variety of conversions on existing vehicles, but has seen that market level off. Now it is focused on developing and supplying electric drivetrain kits for trucks and passenger vehicles from 7 tonnes to 75 tonnes around the world.


The kits comprise modules of components that are assembled at the factory at Oosterhout, close to the Belgian border, into packages ready to be bolted to a truck chassis. Around 80% of the content is bought in to the company’s own specification, but this hardware is brought together and fitted with the crucial control systems in-house.

The 50 staff at EMOSS currently deliver 15-25 kits per month, with over 400 trucks already in service globally. Its biggest single market at the moment is New Zealand, currently taking four kits per month, but it has a keen eye on this side of the Channel as the green trend gathers pace. To that end, it has adopted Astra Vehicle Technologies of Ellesmere Port as its UK installation partner. Local EMOSS representative Vernon Edwards says: “We’re not just talking to operators in the UK – now it’s OEM body manufacturers as well.”

Apart from the passenger sector, where EMOSS and Mellor Coachbuilders are doing well with the Orion E mobility minibus, the greatest area of potential is thought to be refuse collection vehicles.

It has a well-established programme to re-engineer three-to-five-year-old Mercedes-Benz Econics, with two already in service in the UK. And while Dennis has its own electrification programme for the Elite, EMOSS also has its own retrofit EV solution to offer.

One hindrance to making brand new vehicles is the reluctance of the major truck manufacturers to sell ‘gliders’ – that is, rolling vehicles without engine and gearbox. Buying complete trucks new is also out, because a lack of demand for new diesel drivelines makes selling on an unused Econic diesel engine economically challenging. Despite this, EMOSS chief operating officer Bas Rottier says: “Increased OEM presence in the market is a benefit to us. They will only produce volume products, leaving us to specialise.” EMOSS is currently investigating a solution to this problem via a co-operative truck manufacturer from China. When new vehicles are converted, they get rebranded, with EMOSS badges and VINs.

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Aside from the technicalities, let’s dispose of the thorny question of cost. EMOSS makes no effort to disguise the fact that its products are expensive. An electric driveline will typically add anything between €70,000 and €300,000 (£64,000-£273,000) to the cost of your base vehicle, depending on specification. However, total cost of ownership for an EV is less expensive than for diesel.

Obviously, few operators are going to spend this kind of money out of environmental altruism, although some own account fleets such as supermarkets do. Whether these are paid for out of fleet operating or PR budgets is debatable. Most installations are bought out of necessity. Most will be to service contracts with public sector or high-profile organisations such as airports, where environmental impact is a key element of the tendering process. That’s to say, if you don’t have zero tailpipe emission vehicles, you don’t get the contract. Therefore, the added cost is factored into the contract price and the client has to pay the price, so to some extent it is immaterial to the operator.

However, it’s not all extra cost. One prominent UK operator recently carried out comparison trials between electric and diesel Mercedes-Benz Econics, with the electric vehicle showing fuel savings of £91 per day. Add in reduced maintenance costs – electric drivelines have few moving parts requiring maintenance, and there is less wear on the brakes due to regenerative braking – and the picture looks rosier.

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Market sectors

Other potential market sectors under consideration include urban distribution, of course, but also road sweepers, gully cleaners and even fire appliances. With London mayor Sadiq Khan keen to make the capital free of tailpipe emissions, EMOSS is in discussions with a leading fire appliance builder to evaluate the feasibility of an EV fire appliance. EMOSS has an ‘anything-is-possible’ attitude, but as Martijn Noordam, chief technology officer, says: “The problem is not in building trucks, but in charging them. The infrastructure isn’t there yet.” Overcoming the infrastructure issue has led to another UK-bound project – a prototype gas bottle distribution truck for Calor featuring a small range extending internal combustion engine that keeps the drive batteries topped up. The truck’s range will only be limited by the size of the fuel tank, and it is a project we will be following closely.

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Transmission methods on the electric trucks fall into two types. Up to 26 tonnes gross, the motor has a single-speed direct drive, but above that weight, a six-speed Allison torque converter automatic is fitted, together with an Allison retarder with five stages – off, regeneration and three levels of braking. The retarder is required because there’s no regeneration available until battery charge drops below 97%. In all cases, drive continues to conventional drive axles, albeit with final drive ratios typically ranging from 5:1 to 7.2:1.

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On the road

To gain a rare insight into what electric trucks are like to drive, we were able to intercept a couple of newly completed customer vehicles ahead of being dispatched to their new owners. Both were free from any bodywork or trailer.

The first was unusual, even in the world of electric trucks, an MAN TGS-based 6x2 tractor unit designed for a 60-tonne GCW in Norway. The truck is one of an order of three destined for airport waste removal duties, where the tender conditions not only specified zero tailpipe emissions but also low noise levels for nighttime operation through sensitive residential areas.

Its vital statistics include a nine-phase motor delivering a maximum 370kW, equivalent to 500hp, and 2,500Nm of torque at all engine speeds, although this is limited from the maximum available figure of 4,000Nm. With 280kW/hr of battery capacity on board, it has a range of at least 200km with 50% payload.

The interior was fully recognisable as off-the shelf MAN, the biggest difference being the traditional pushbutton array for the Allison transmission, adjacent to a rather wobbly stalk for the retarder, which would probably be better if the function was controlled by the standard but redundant MAN column stalk.

Preparing for travel, you turn the key in the normal manner, but the only clue that it’s active is the sound of the air compressor, electric of course, filling the tanks for the conventional service brakes. To drive away, just select D on the pad and floor the throttle. Then stop quickly, as you realise the effect of 2,500Nm of instant torque on just eight tonnes or so of unladen tractor unit.

A more circumspect second attempt sees a smoother take-off, almost silent apart from the pedestrian warning low-speed noise generator. Although the part of the Netherlands where EMOSS is based is devoid of anything resembling a hill, we did manage to find a nearby motorway to get up to maximum speed, limited in the same way as a conventional truck.

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Noise only ever amounted to low levels of wind and tyre whoosh. Even at higher speeds, the throttle pedal calls for some restraint if jerky progress is to be avoided. Although the ESP system cuts power at the onset of wheelspin, it’s best to avoid it in the first place with a gentle touch. We’re pretty sure that with its intended 50-plus tonnes behind it, or even a UK style 35 tonnes, the driving experience would be far more relaxing.

If the airport-based tractor is likely to operate in similarly flat terrain to the Dutch conditions, the same certainly isn’t true of the second truck driven. If Switzerland’s largest retailer, Migros, has a supermarket at the top of the Matterhorn, this is the truck to deliver its chilled food. Based on an MAN TGL 12-tonner, its numbers include 3,000Nm at 1rpm. The maximum power output from its six-phase motor is 235kW (315hp) with 140kW (188hp) continuously, with a maximum range from its 140kW/hr battery pack of 300km at 50% payload.

As it has the direct-drive transmission with just the one ratio, driving is just a case of choosing forward or reverse and going. With no gear shifts, it does just go, with absolutely no sensation of anything making an effort, although with just a bare chassis behind the cab, restraint was even more vital than in the tractor to avoid disturbing the traction control.

After these two, admittedly short, journeys in unladen vehicles, we have to conclude that from a driving perspective, any reasonably skilled driver with the maturity to keep the power in check would pretty quickly come to appreciate the tranquility and effortlessness that electric traction in proper working trucks provides.

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About the Author


Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett has been involved in the road transport industry since becoming an apprentice truck mechanic and worked on Commercial Motor for 27 years

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