Ricardo spearheading Class 8 truck electrification project

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Ricardo has announced that it is to lead a program that aims to advance the next generation of clean, energy-efficient, electric on-highway trucks.

Funded by the US Government’s Department of Energy (DOE), Ricardo is joining partners from government, academia and private industry to deliver a high-power, high-efficiency, silicon-carbide inverter and integrated compact electronic drive unit (EDU) for a US industry benchmark Class 8 truck: a heavy-duty commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 14,969kg. The program’s priority is to have this dual-axle truck in use within 12 months at the Port of Long Beach, a container port that adjoins the Port of Los Angeles in California.

Ricardo says it is leading the development of the 800V, silicon-carbide inverter, which achieves 98.5% operating efficiency, exceeding the DOE phase 1 program targets of 92.5%. Yansong Chen, SVP of marketing, technology and strategy at Ricardo North America, said, “Pressure is steadily increasing for lower greenhouse gas emissions from heavy trucks, exemplified in California’s clean energy and clean transport policy, which is generally regarded as a leading indicator of global environmental policy. As the demand for cleaner propulsion solutions in trucking grows, Ricardo expertise in developing and integrating electric vehicle solutions for customers around the world will make a huge difference in setting a new standard for electrification through this significant project.”

The core partners in the program include FREEDM Center (Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management) from North Carolina State University (providing support for power electronics design, analysis and testing), PolyCharge America (delivering its NanoLam capacitor technology) and Danfoss Silicon Power (supplying the SiC power modules to help deliver a volumetric power density in excess of 50kW/l). The program also includes globally recognized drivetrain supplier Meritor, with its innovative ePowertrain featuring an integrated electric motor, three-speed gearbox and vehicle integration.

“We always view our role through the end user, providing the right products to help customers achieve their goals,” added John Bennett, CTO at Meritor, a global supplier of drivetrain, mobility and electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. “For the electric drive unit, we’re demonstrating that a three-speed transmission has better ‘startability’, acceleration and shifting at high speeds. It pairs perfectly with Ricardo’s development of a high-efficiency inverter that lessens the customers’ carbon footprint, with direct correlation to lower operating costs.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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