Saving fuel as well as reducing CO2 emissions – Krone and the technology start-up Trailer Dynamics unveil a trailer with an electrically powered axle.
Together with the start-up Trailer Dynamics, the vehicle manufacturer Krone has developed a trailer that moves together with the tractor unit by means of its own electric drive. As a result, the tractor unit is relieved of a significant part of the load placed on it. And that, in turn, is good for the climate and the company coffers. Trailer Dynamics promises fleet operators diesel savings of at least 20 percent. “That number is not made up out of thin air,” emphasizes Trailer Dynamics CEO Michael Nimtsch. The diesel savings were achieved and documented on test tours accompanied by a testing organization.
A corresponding prototype based on a Low Liner was presented by Krone and Trailer Dynamics to the more than 100 fleet operators present at the Executive Logistics Summit organized jointly with the ETM Verlag. The venue for the event was the test track at the new Krone Future Lab in Lingen. The logistics entrepreneurs were able to see for themselves how the eMega Liner – as the product is called – works during the driving dynamics presentation on the test track. Some of them took the opportunity to experience the eTrailer at first hand by riding in the tractor unit. Firmly in the spotlight of the presentation: the otherwise inconspicuous kingpin. Trailer Dynamics and Krone have enhanced it with the intelligence of numerous sensors.
These cause the kingpin to support the tractor in drive and at the same time prevent the trailer from pushing the towing vehicle. The signals from the sensory kingpin are transmitted in real time to the Vehicle Control Unit – the central control unit in the drive train of the trailer –, which tells the two electric motors what drive power is needed for the trailer to keep up with the towing vehicle.
With the battery installed in the eTrailer – it has a capacity of 300 kWh – companies can cover distances of up to 500 kilometers in long-distance transport. Should the electricity run out, the driver can make use of the advantages of a plug-in hybrid as long as the charging infrastructure remains incomplete or, even better, conveniently recharge the batteries at the depot with the aid of an on-board charger. Depending on the customer’s needs, the capacity of the batteries can also be adjusted upwards or downwards in a modular fashion. Their accumulators also need to be filled and, in the overall view, customers have to offset this energy input from (green) electricity against the energy and cost savings from diesel.
Trailer Dynamics directors Michael Nimtsch and Abdullah Jaber are convinced that the eTrailer will quickly pay for itself. “It produces positive TCO effects from day one,” says Jaber – through lower diesel consumption or reduced respectively waived toll fees. The obligation to pay toll fees will be omitted for the next technology stage: In the second step, Krone and Trailer Dynamics want to develop a trailer with an electric axle that can be combined with battery electric tractor units. Through the additional energy in the eTrailer the range of the battery electric tractor unit could be increased to around 800 kilometers.
But even the first step is promising for the partners. The eMega Liner can be combined with all common tractor units, explain the Trailer Dynamics founders. This would reduce the consumption of the existing fleet with one blow. “We’re talking about around two million diesel tractor units in the European fleet.” Without scrapping or converting these trucks, positive effects could be achieved with regard to the climate through a reduction in CO2 on the one hand and, on the other hand, with regard to the profitability of the respective fleet operator.
Krone and Trailer Dynamics want to take the next steps rapidly. After two years of digital development and just six months spent on building the prototype, field tests with multiple trailers are on the agenda.