To develop what the industry will be needing in terms of electric drive trains in the near future, Meritor is preparing for electric drivelines with a range of e-axles and other driveline components.
Earlier this year, Meritor announced that production of its 14Xe all-electric, fully integrated, commercial electric powertrain for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles will begin mid-2021.
The new e-axles going into production are the first of three e-axle models, aimed to cover all of the needs of truck makers in the next few years. The first of Meritor’s Blue Horizon advanced technology portfolio, the 14Xe ePowertrain is going into production this year and will be followed by two further e-axles, the 17Xe and the 12Xe.
“The 14Xe ePowertrain has been tested in various conditions around the world with several OEMs, vehicle types and applications, so we can offer the industry a proven electric powertrain technology,” said T.J. Reed, vice president of Global Electrification for Meritor. “In January 2020, we announced our agreement with PACCAR to be its non-exclusive supplier of electric powertrains. One year later, we are nearing production and preparing to put vehicles on the road.”
The 14Xe electric powertrain, which will be produced at Meritor’s facilities in Asheville and Forest City, North Carolina, is designed to provide efficiency, performance, weight savings and space utilisation.
According to Meritor there are some key advantages of this e-axle design over those where the electric motor is mounted mid-chassis, these include:
- Tighter turning radius due to a shorter wheelbase
- Increased room between frame rails for additional battery capacity, which extends the range of the vehicle
- Lighter weight (up to 180kg)
Meritor has production agreements to supply these innovative axles to Volta Trucks, Paccar (for both Kenworth and Peterbilt in the US), Lion Electric and Autocar (for waste trucks).
The three e-axle models are designed to be able to cover most truck specifications needed with the 12Xe handling light, medium and some heavy duty trucks, the 14Xe designed to handle medium duty and heavy duty and the 17Xe developed for the heavier end of the market, using electric motors over 300kW (407hp).
Production of the heavyweight 17Xe is to be based in Europe following the announcement of the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s (APC) Core Competition Program in the UK to partially fund the design and development of these axles. The Meritor 17Xe electric powertrain system for heavy-duty electric trucks and buses equipped with a single drive axle will be manufactured as part of a consortium with partners Danfoss Editron and Electra Commercial Vehicles, known as the the EPIC (Electric Powertrain Integration for heavy Commercial vehicles) Project.
“Our consortium will develop a game-changing electric powertrain for heavy-duty 4×2 and 6×2 vehicles up to 44 tonnes without wheel-end reduction and up to 65-tonne vehicles with wheel-end reduction,” says Chris Villavarayan, CEO and President, for Meritor. “This technology will provide commercial vehicle OEMs with the optimal solution to meet European CO2 reduction targets and enable Meritor to significantly expand its Blue Horizon technology portfolio brand into Europe.”
Meritor’s 17Xe ePowertrain system will deliver up to 430kW of continuous power with a 800-volt rated electric motor for heavy trucks and buses in 6×2 or 4×2 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, optimised 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.