Meritor Consortium launches major project for UK’s low carbon future

By Roberta Prandi29 March 2021

Consortium of companies, led by Meritor, will work on a project for an electric powertrain system for heavy-duty electric trucks and buses. 

Meritor announced a project worth £31.9 million, funded with £15.9 million by the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s (APC) Core Competition Program in the UK, for the design and development of Meritor’s 17Xe electric powertrain system for heavy-duty electric trucks and buses equipped with a single drive axle. The project is called Electric Powertrain Integration for heavy Commercial vehicles (EPIC) and is handled by a consortium among Meritor and its partners Danfoss Editron and Electra Commercial Vehicles.

Meritor's electric powertrain system for commercial vehicles The 17Xe electric powertrain system by Meritor for commercial vehicles

EPIC will deliver zero-CO2 emission potential for commercial vehicles and other applications, operating in towns and cities across the UK. “With this award, our consortium will develop a game-changing electric powertrain for heavy-duty 4x2 and 6x2 vehicles up to 44 tonnes without wheel-end reduction and up to 65 tonne vehicles with wheel-end reduction,” said Chris Villavarayan, CEO and president, for Meritor, who added that this project will enable Meritor to significantly expand its Blue Horizon technology portfolio brand into Europe.

As part of this program, Meritor will create a European Centre of Excellence for eMobility in Cwmbran, South Wales, and Danfoss Editron will create an Innovation Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Meritor’s 17Xe ePowertrain system will deliver up to 430 kW of continuous power with a 800-V rated electric motor for heavy trucks and buses in 6X2 or 4X2 configurations. The integrated system, which is suitable for full electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, as well as series hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations, provides efficient packaging designed for short wheelbase trucks, optimized gearing for energy regeneration, and a wide range of ratios. It will be designed to drop into existing chassis with minimal to no modifications to the suspension or frame.

Danfoss Editron’s electric motor is based on a patented architecture and thermal management methodology which exceeds the APC’s 2035 Roadmap targets for power-density. It also means that only one motor is required, a significant step forward in heavy-duty ePowertrain design, with most competitor products needing two motors to meet power requirements. Only requiring one motor is seen as a step-change in the industry, as it reduces parts, weight and cost while improving reliability.

Jeff Herrin, Vice President of Research and Development at Danfoss Power Solutions, the Danfoss business segment that includes Danfoss Editron commented, “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 revolutionary 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.”

“With range extension being a critical factor in the adoption of commercial electric vehicles, we can’t wait to get started developing an efficient drivetrain solution with more battery space,” said Sid Sadique, CEO and president, Electra Commercial Vehicles.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) collaborates with UK government, the automotive industry and academia to accelerate the industrialisation of technologies, supporting the transition to deliver net-zero emission vehicles. Since its foundation in 2013, APC has funded 150 low-carbon projects involving 375 partners, working with companies of all sizes, and has helped to create or safeguard over 50 000 jobs in the UK. The technologies developed in these projects are projected to save over 260 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing the lifetime emissions from 10.2 million cars.

In 2019 the UK government committed the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to accelerate the development of a net-zero vehicle supply chain, enabling UK-based manufacturers to serve global markets. ATF investments are awarded through the APC to support strategically important UK capital and R&D investments that will enable companies involved in batteries, motors and drives, power electronics, fuel cells, recycling, and associated supply chains to anchor their future.

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