Danfoss Editron has teamed up with Meritor, a global leader in heavy commercial vehicle drivetrain systems, and Electra Commercial Vehicles, a UK integrator of battery electric commercial vehicles, to form the Meritor-led Electric Powertrain Integration for Heavy Commercial Vehicles (EPIC) consortium. The group has secured £15.9 million in funding from Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) and Innovate UK to develop a next-generation, zero-emission electric powertrain that will provide commercial vehicle OEMs with an advanced solution designed to meet global CO2 reduction targets.
The commercial vehicle industry is transitioning to electric powertrains, a move driven by international legislation mandating CO2 reduction, the growing number of zero-emission zones in major cities and the rapid decline of battery costs. As a result, industry experts predict that over 2.2 million commercial vehicles will be electric by 2030, including 13-20% of heavy-duty vehicles. However, the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles is currently lagging behind that of light and medium-duty vehicles, partly because existing electric and hybrid powertrains can be costly, heavy and restrict battery packaging.
Through the EPIC partnership, the three members will design and develop an electric powertrain system consisting of a high-power electric motor and high-efficiency silicon carbide inverter delivered by Danfoss Editron and a three-speed transmission, geared differential and lightweight brakes provided by Meritor.
Meritor will integrate all of the components into a single, uniquely architected system that can be installed in an existing chassis with little to no modification required, a hugely significant breakthrough in heavy-duty electric powertrains. Electra Commercial Vehicles will be responsible for the mechanical and controls integration of the battery-electric chassis and build up four different chassis for validation. Once fully-developed, it is planned that the electric powertrain system will be industrialized and marketed globally to commercial vehicle OEMs under Meritor’s Blue Horizon™ brand.
Danfoss Editron’s motor will be based on a patented architecture and thermal management methodology which exceeds the APC’s 2035 Roadmap targets for power-density. It will also mean that only one motor will be required in the electric powertrain design, a significant step forward as existing products on today’s market need two motors to meet this product segment’s power requirements. Only requiring one motor is seen as a step-change in the industry, as it will lead to a reduction in parts, weight and cost while improving reliability.
To help deliver its part of the EPIC project, Danfoss Editron will create a Low-Carbon Innovation Center next to its existing facility in Edinburgh, providing an anchor for its electrification activities in the UK. Global experts from across Danfoss Editron’s business will be used to bring knowledge into the UK, with key team members regularly rotating across all EPIC partner sites to increase exposure, witness integration and expand expertise.
Meritor will also create a European Center of Excellence for eMobility in Cwmbran, Wales as part of the program. EPIC will create jobs in both Europe and the UK through the two new centers and future manufacturing capability.
Commenting on the APC funding and EPIC project, Danfoss Editron’s Global Sales Director for On-Highway Adrian Schaffer said:
The EPIC project will deliver an innovative and revolutionary approach to electrification by commercializing a new, fully integrated solution for the on-highway market. 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.
Jeff Herrin, Vice President of Research and Development at Danfoss Power Solutions, the business unit which Danfoss Editron falls under, added:
We’re thrilled to be part of this powerhouse team that is joining forces to develop a next-generation, zero-emission electric powertrain. EPIC will provide a game-changing solution to commercial vehicle OEMs, enabling them to meet global CO2 reduction targets by increasing efficiency, reducing weight, lowering cost and unlocking longer range than existing solutions on today’s market. The EPIC project will unlock the electrification potential of 310,000 heavy commercial vehicles in the UK, which are worth nearly £2.5 billion to the country’s supply chain annually and projected to save over 36 million tons of CO2 between 2025-2034.