Truck electrification: 'You're not late, but you're not early'

Truck electrification: ‘You’re not late, but you’re not early’


As electrification makes its way into heavy-duty truck drivelines, the integration of the truck’s components will go even deeper than we see in today’s powertrains. It’s a result of moving to one electrical-power infrastructure as opposed to today’s trucks, which draw from diesel power to provide electrical energy.

“Any type of all-electric vehicle is its own little grid,” said Jeff Lowinger, president of Eaton’s recently established eMobility business, which focuses on three primary areas for both automotive and commercial vehicle customers: intelligent power electronics; power systems; and advanced power distribution and circuit protection. “You’re going to have different voltage demands on all-electric trucks. The highest is going to be to propel the vehicle—in the 600- to 900-volt range—and then a lot of accessories are going to be operating at lower voltages from 48-volt. There is no personal safety hazard for components running under 60 volts, so that provides better efficiency for the components.”

One of the components that is going to demand a deep level of integration is the transmission. While there are still plenty of questions surrounding the driveline structure, mostly in terms of electric motor placement, in Lowinger’s view, an electric truck is still going to require a transmission to provide both the needed power and desired efficiency.

“We believe that the transmission will still be a key enabler of range and efficiency to meet customer needs no matter what type of vehicle it is,” Lowinger said. “We don’t think direct drive will provide the needed efficiency and range, as well as performance.

“Think about the torque you need in certain profiles,” he continued. “If the truck is on a hill, you need high-torque capabilities. You’re not going to get that in a direct drive system. You’re also not going to get the efficiency in other application profiles. A transmission provides the efficiency and operating performance, torque-wise, you need in a performance profile.”

Ensuring that the transmission is properly tuned to the electric motor configuration is just as important as how closely paired today’s diesel engines are matched to transmissions. Lowinger explained how electric motors typically run at a specific torque speed. If there’s no gear box to change the speed at which the motor is running, as in the case of direct drive systems, then the amount of time the electric motor runs within the proper efficiency band will be limited. Consider how today’s automated manual transmissions are optimized to put the diesel engine in the most efficient RPM range. The same concept can be applied to an electric motor-driven vehicle. After all, you don’t want to have the charge the batteries more than you have to just as you don’t want your trucks stopping to fill up on diesel too often.

Lowinger explained that as electric drive systems are developed, efficiency and performance losses, seen both in acquisition cost and ROI through efficiency, would come at the expense of how components are connected and blended with the mechanical systems.

“If you’re trying to piecemeal component by component without understanding how they integrate, then you’re not going to find an efficient solution,” Lowinger said. “In the end, you have to take a top-down view of the problem you’re trying to solve; you have to have the right level of competency on your team. That’s where early engagement with a supply base that can help you think through these solutions would be beneficial because the components are so connected.

“The time is now to start,” he stressed. “There’s a lot of activity going on within electrification. You’re not late, but you’re not early. There’s a lot of opportunity to take advantage of technologies that will help you meet the GHG regulations in the 2024 time frame.”

You May Also Like

Grote, Star Safety Tech appoint regional sales manager

Hochapfel has 18+ years of safety tech expertise, which is expected to help build and fortify client relationships.


Grote Industries and Star Safety Technologies have announced the appointment of Gunther Hochapfel as the new regional sales manager. Grote says that Hochapfel brings more than 18 years of experience in the safety and warning technology industry.

Previously, Hochapfel served as a sales leader and applications specialist at a Canadian warning light manufacturer for nearly two decades. According to Grote, his tenure was marked by playing a pivotal role in driving the evolution of the Canadian marketplace from strobe to LED warning lights. Notably, Grote tells us that Hochapfel developed highly successful snowplow warning light programs for various ministries of transportation across Canada.

NHTSA finalizes AEB rule for light-duty trucks; heavy-duty rule being finalized

By 2029, vehicle manufacturers must make AEB standard in cars and light trucks, to help reduce vehicle and pedestrian crashes.

NHTSA logo
Intangles says InRoute Connect speeds up maintenance turnaround

Intangles says InRoute Connect detects issues before a diagnostic code is triggered, giving drivers more time to get to a service facility.

Bestpass hires new executives

The new hires are expected to help Bestpass scale service offerings and network integrations for commercial fleets and owner operators. 

Ford Trucks, Irdeto announce cybersecurity partnership

Irdeto will provide Ford Trucks with a fully managed key lifecycle management service.


Other Posts

New Penske Energy initiative to advise, support fleets on electric truck infrastructure

Consulting offerings include strategic and operational planning, technology assessment, infrastructure designs and practical project implementation.

Eaton to offer fuses for electric trucks

Eaton says it can increase current capability by either design modifications or paralleling multiple fuses.

Truck OEM execs gather to talk electrification

An EV roundtable brought competitors from across the industry together to discuss their common decarbonization goals.

Mack adds LR Electric side loader adoption; achieves CARB/HVIP eligibility; talks EVs at ACT Expo

Mack Trucks now offers the ability to integrate the Heil fully electric RevAMP Automated Side Loader (ASL) with its Mack LR Electric Class 8 battery-electric vehicle (BEV) as an option through Heil Environment, which upfits and sells the body.  Related Articles – Hyundai previews enhanced Xcient fuel cell truck – From the Show Floor: Timely