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AW Monthly – Issue 7 / June 2013

AW Monthly June 2013

Welcome to the latest issue of AW Monthly.

CV powertrains: a broad spectrum of alternative solutions

Although durable, lightweight and economically-viable alternative CV powertrains remain something of a Holy Grail, all major medium and heavy duty OEMs are pursuing a broad spectrum of solutions. These range from hybrid and plug-in hybrid trucks and buses to alternative fuels, via dynamic power transfer and flash charging.

Volvo recently unveiled a plug-in hybrid bus that it claims can reduce fuel consumption by 75% compared to a diesel bus; the OEM’s truck division also recently announced its participation in a dynamic charging trial in Sweden, which aims to transfer electric power wirelessly to moving trucks. It is long-term thinking, admits Volvo, acknowledging that it will be “many years before this is on our roads”.

Scania, too, is investigating in dynamic power transfer, working with Siemens on the use of overhead lines for buses. But overhead lines are not needed, said ABB when it unveiled its high-capacity flash charging system for electric buses. So confident is ABB of its technology that it is preparing trials on a large capacity electric bus carrying up to 135 passengers, running between Geneva airport and the Palexpo trade fair centre.

BYD’s belief in electrification for buses led to a press conference in early May to announce plans to build electric buses in California.  MAN Latin America has also just published details of a new trial in Brazil involving a VW Constellation Hybrid refuse truck equipped with a Bosch Rexroth-developed HRB (hydrostatic regenerative braking) hydraulic hybrid driveline. MAN is trialling the truck, which it claims to be the first in Brazil, with the Municipal Urban Cleaning Company (Comlurb) of Rio de Janeiro. The model promises fuel consumption savings up of to 15% and significantly reduced CO2 and NOx emissions, and uses KERS to recover energy.

However, the focus is not solely on electrification; the UK is trying to promote the use of biomethane. Last week,Volvo Trucks North America announced plans to commercialise production of Dimethyl Ether-powered trucks.

From 2015,VTNA will offer a 425hp variant of its D13 engine fuelled by this clean burning fuel which has a cetane number comparable with diesel fuel. The OEM has been trialling DME since 1999, and, after logging over 650,000 test miles, “this is the one to bet on,” says Göran Nyberg,VTNA’s President of Sales and Marketing.

Westport, which published its Q1 earnings in May, expects demand for natural gas to increase in North America. The supplier also expects demand to pick up in Russia, where it has just signed a CNG deal with GAZ Group.

Whilst Europe prepares for Euro VI, European regulators are already looking at other ways to improve CV emissions, says Alan Bunting. He believes that older vehicles could be targeted next, with a range of possible emission control measures being considered.

Meanwhile, in some less developed automotive markets, high levels of sulphur in diesel fuel are hampering efforts to meet newly targeted emission standards, even with the most modern engine technology.

There’s no sense in forcing OEMs to invest in specific technology to reduce consumption and emissions, but until each OEM agrees on ‘the one to bet on’, it will indeed be many years before we see a viable solution on our roads.

We hope you enjoy this issue of AW Monthly, and as always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions; email us at editorial@automotiveworld.com

Martin Kahl
Editor, Automotive World

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