Scania, Trucks

Exaggerate the Capabilities of their Electric Vehicles

Exaggerate the Capabilities of their Electric Vehicles

From my experience truck manufacturers over-exaggerate the capabilities of their electric vehicles, reckons PowerTorque’s European Correspondent, Will Shiers.

That maximum range figure quoted in the sales literature looks great, but tends to shrink somewhat in real world conditions, where external factors such as weather, terrain, congestion and driving style are thrown into the equation.

Apparently, this doesn’t apply to Scania, at least not according to Magnus Mackaldener, who is responsible for electrification development at Scania R&D.

At the launch of its R40 and R45 battery-electric regional prime mover units, he said: “We believe that an average 40-tonne truck in real world conditions consumes 1.25kW per km, and we have done the maths. We don’t measure on a 25-degree day with the wind behind us.”

Image: Prime Creative Media

I hope he’s right, as I’m about to drive an electric Scania semi 616km from Trysil in Norway to Scania’s hometown of Södertälje in Sweden, and the temperature is -27 degrees!

My truck for the two-day journey is a 40R regional 4×2 prime mover. Located along its chassis are six 104kWh (624kWh total) nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries. They power an electric machine, comprising three electric motors with a continuous output of 400kW (544hp), which is matched to a 6-speed Opticruise transmission.

According to Scania’s calculations, when running at 40 tonnes, this truck has a maximum range of 350km. While I will be running at a slightly lighter 34 tonnes, which in theory should extend the range slightly, the sub-zero temperatures I’ll encounter throughout the drive will clearly have a negative impact.

Image: Prime Creative Media

In extremely cold climates it’s important to precondition the batteries and heat the cab while it’s still connected to the grid. Getting them to their optimal temperature while the truck is still plugged-in preserves the range.

Likewise, maintaining the in-cab temperature takes far less energy than chasing the temperature. So, using the Scania Driver app, this is exactly what I do a few hours before setting off. And when I get to the truck, the cab is a toasty 21 degrees.

There’s a thick layer of snow on the ground when I leave Trysil, and I’m immediately surprised at how well the Scania grips.

A Chance to Drive an Electric Scania Semi
Image: Prime Creative Media

With maximum torque available from the outset, I had expected an instant loss of traction, but the Michelin X Multi Grip tyres prove otherwise. It also helps that there’s no interruption in torque between the infinitesimally quick gear changes.

The main roads are largely clear of snow, and I make quick progress as I travel southeast towards Sweden.

I have mixed feelings about electric trucks, and am far from convinced that they’re the silver bullet the industry is searching for, especially not for long distance work.

That said, I’m not denying that they’re an absolute joy to drive. With instant torque, effortless power, and lightning quick gear changes, what’s not to like?

The Scania is particularly good. I have driven battery-powered trucks before where you can hear a cacophony of squeaks and rattles from the cab, but that’s not the case in the 40R.

Image: Prime Creative Media

You can’t fault the interior build quality, and without a combustion engine under the cab, you are met with almost total silence at low speeds.

The terrain is hilly, and there’s plenty of opportunities for regenerative braking. As I engage the powerful five-stage machine brake, the instrument cluster informs me that I’m putting charge back into the battery, so extending the range.

Driving an electric truck requires a slightly different driving style to diesel, and training is advised. Scania says the range can vary by 20 per cent depending on the driver.


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