The TRATON Group, which includes Scania and MAN, believes the EU's target of cutting carbon emissions from heavy trucks by 15% by 2025 can be achieved largely with conventional engine technology but the much tougher target of a 30% reduction by 2030 will require significant sales of alternative drivetrains, mainly battery electric.
Speaking at the TRATON innovation day for media and key customers at Scania's HQ in Södertälje, Sweden, TRATON CEO Andreas Renschler said that in the next 10 to 15 years one third of the group's trucks and buses would have an alternative drivetrain, “most of them fully electric”.
While the group is looking closely at hydrogen – both to power electric fuel cells and to power internal combustion engines - it appears to be betting on a new highly fuel efficient diesel drivetrain based on a 13-litre, 6-cylinder engine, together with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) as the main routes to achieving the tough EU CO2 reduction targets for trucks over 16 tonnes.
Scania will get the new diesel drivetrain first towards the end of next year but MAN will wait a little longer as it is launching the replacement for its TG range in 2020 and does not want to risk introducing a new cab and drivetrain at the same time. But by 2025 the new drivetrain will be “the basic solution” across the TRATON Group, Renschler said.
TRATON is investing €1bn (£900,000) in common battery electric technology that will be shared across the group brands including Scania, which has until now has focussed on natural gas and adapting conventional Euro-6 trucks to run on biodiesel. Biofuels will not however contribute towards the EU carbon reduction targets, which will be measured on a theoretical basis using the vehicle energy consumption calculation tool (Vecto). Fossil-derived CNG is deemed to emit 14% less and LNG 20% less CO2 than diesel however.
Scania is participating in trials of an electric long-haul tractor (pictured) powered by overhead wires taking place in Germany but MAN is way ahead on BEVs, with 26-tonne eTGMs on test with customers in Austria, the eTGE electric van (of which 150 have now been sold) and a 34-tonne 4x2 battery electric distribution tractor unit demonstrator at the innovation day.
Scania is however testing hydrogen fuel cell trucks with Norwegian food wholesaler Asko and at some point these will be joined by a Scania battery electric truck. But as ever buses will lead the way with the first serial produced all-electric city buses made by both Scania and MAN hitting the streets in 2020.
Also at the innovation day was a new concept vehicle, a light delivery truck from TRATON's Brazilian subsidiary Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (VWCO), equipped with BEV components from its Japanese partner Hino. An order for 1,600 of these e-trucks – said to be the world's largest - has been placed by the Brazilian beer and beverage producer Ambev with deliveries beginning in 2020.
In a statement, TRATON said: “The activities of the brands in the group are clearly aligned: Scania is the innovation leader for sustainable transport solutions, working on many different non-fossil alternatives. As a full range business partner, MAN pursues a broader strategy ranging from light to heavy commercial vehicles. And VWCO's approach is to offer tailor-made solutions with the best value for money ratio, especially for markets in Latin America and Africa.”
The sharing of electric vehicle technology is part of a wider TRATON “modularisation” strategy that will see 80% of drivetrain components being common across the Group with just 20% being “optimised” for each brand to maintain product differentiation. Cabs will continue to be developed separately.
Renschler added that the one in three vehicles forecast to be non-diesel was “a conservative calculation” but warned that the success of BEVs required governments to play their part in helping fund the development of a “seamless” charging infrastructure across Europe. He claimed that despite the higher purchase price of BEVs, battery prices will fall and this, together with the lower running and maintenance costs, means total cost of ownership of battery electric distribution trucks would be “comparable” with fossil-fuelled equivalents in the “mid term”. TRATON already believes that the payback on a BEV is less than three years.
The TRATON statement continued: “Today, Scania has the broadest range of alternative fuel-enabled vehicles on the market, ranging from bioethanol trucks and buses to vehicles using liquefied biogas. However, TRATON projects that demand for electric vehicles will continue to rise over the medium and long term because electric vehicles will become more affordable and cost less to maintain. In the process, they will be able to take full advantage of their edge in energy costs.”