Germany-based manufacturing company ZF offers all-electric drive solutions for urban vehicles with limited range, and hybrid technologies for long-distance
transport applications where combustion engines continue to be indispensable in the long term.
Its newest development is an all-electric central drive that can be used in different bus systems and city delivery trucks. “This is a convenient addition to the currently available AVE 130 electric portal axle as an e-mobility solution, particularly for city buses and delivery trucks,” says the company.
ZF has developed a fully electric central drive that allows for zero pollution for city buses and delivery trucks. It is the newest member of an already existing product portfolio that also includes the AVE 130 electric portal axle.
The company explains that in many large metropolitan cities in Europe and Asia that already have strict emissions regulations, all-electric drives are mandatory. Fleet vehicles are often used in ‘return-to-base operation’, which means that delivery trucks and buses can return to the fleet lot or bus depot overnight and easily be recharged.
In expanding its portfolio for buses, ZF’s new central drive is intended both for smaller buses as well as high-floor applications, while the popular AVE 130 is used particularly in low-floor
Both concepts will soon also be available as a whole system; in other words, with a torque control from ZF and with ZF-approved inverters in order to provide customers with a perfectly fine-tuned, complete system.
The new central drive and the AVE 130 electric portal axle enable bus manufacturers to fit their buses with hybrid systems. They are designed as serial hybrid drives where the combustion engine merely has the job of generating electricity and no longer drives the
vehicle, an approach particularly useful in city traffic.
For hybrid use in heavy commercial vehicles, ZF has developed another product: TraXon Hybrid, part of the Innovation Truck 2016 range, which has an electric motor installed between the combustion engine and the transmission.
This parallel hybrid incorporates all hybrid functionalities into a 40 t truck, including recuperation of braking energy, purely electric manoeuvring as well as turning off the engine at a standstill (start and stop function) and boosting the combustion engine.
One feature that is particularly attractive for many applications is that, in generator mode, the hybrid module can also supply power to other units during refrigerated transports. Additionally, the TraXon Hybrid can also manoeuvre autonomously and run entirely on electricity. Apart from being installed in truck applications, the TraXon Hybrid is also suitable for coaches.
The software designed by ZF is essential for managing the energy in the vehicle and is, therefore, ultimately responsible for efficiency and the actual achievable range. The
software settings are also in charge of managing the convenient switching between different driving modes and meeting safety requirements.
“As a system integrator, ZF’s expertise is additionally valued by customers from the commercial vehicle industry,” says ZF commercial vehicle division head Fredrik Staedtler. A good example is the efficient integration of recuperation into braking management – this is when the electric motor, in generator operation, generates power and at the same time lightly brakes the vehicle without the brakes having to actuate.
ZF has adapted its electric axle drive used in passenger cars for application in light commercial vehicles as well.
The company notes that the electrification of commercial vehicles has strong potential in some applications and market regions, and the hybrid or the all-electric drive is already a better alternative. “Many commercial vehicles with limited daily mileage can already be operated using all-electric drives,” concludes Staedtler.