Danfoss Editron, Meritor and Electra Commercial Vehicles have agreed to join forces to create the Meritor-led Electric Powertrain Integration for Heavy Commercial Vehicles (EPIC) consortium.
Having acquired £15.9m (US$21.8m) in funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) and Innovate UK, the consortium will develop a zero-emission electric powertrain for next-gen commercial vehicles, with the goal of providing manufacturers with solutions to meet the increasingly stringent global CO2 reduction targets.
Thanks to tightening legislation, it is estimated that around 2.2 million commercial vehicles will have electric powertrains by 2030, alongside 13-20% of heavy-duty commercials. At present, electric propulsion solutions for heavy-duty vehicles are limited due to the high cost, weight and restrictive battery packaging.
As part of EPIC, the trio will design and develop an entire electric powertrain system comprising a high-power electric motor, a high-efficiency silicon carbide inverter, a 3-speed transmission, a geared differential and lightweight brakes.
Meritor will be tasked with turning all of the individual components into a specially designed architecture that will enable easy integration into a number of existing chassis setups, with little to no modification.
Electra Commercial Vehicles will then work on the mechanical and control integration part of the project, where four different chassis will be built for use in the validation process. Upon completion, the end product will be marketed to OEMs under Meritor’s own Blue Horizon brand.
The motor from Danfoss will be based on a previously patented architecture and thermal management methodology that exceeds the APC’s 2035 Roadmap target for power-density. This means only a single electric motor will be needed within the electric powertrain, unlike existing products that currently require two in order to meet product segment power requirements.
Alongside the development of the newly designed powertrain, as part of the project, Danfoss is set to create a Low-Carbon Innovation Center next to the company’s current facility in Edinburgh, while Meritor will build the European Centre of Excellence for eMobility in Cwmbran, Wales.
“The EPIC project will deliver an innovative and revolutionary approach to electrification by commercializing a new, fully integrated solution for the on-highway market,” commented Adrian Schaffer, Danfoss Editron’s global sales director for on-highway.
“The electric powertrain system will be a fantastic new option for customers interested in integrated solutions, plus complement our existing robust offering and leadership in electric systems. There is currently a tremendous change happening across heavy-duty markets, with more companies demanding electrification solutions than ever before. This technology will play a vital role in meeting this growing demand.”