If you’ve heard of the Louisville Slugger, then stand by as in this issue we look at the PACCAR Plugger, moving the iconic truck brands of Peterbilt and Kenworth into electric vehicle mode.

Actually, if you have heard of the Louisville Slugger then you’d be struggling to find a link between a baseball bat and a prime mover or waste-disposal truck other than its ability to rhyme, but stay with us as we explain how PACCAR is adapting to running its vehicles with electricity rather than diesel.

Peterbilt has completed a home run of nearly 65,000 real-world kilometres with its fleet of 16 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), putting runs on the board as part of its EV prove-out programme.

“With this milestone, we continue our leadership position in the industry,” said Jason Skoog, PACCAR Vice President and Peterbilt General Manager.

“No other OEM has three models of BEVs in service with customers, handling a variety of applications.”

Peterbilt Chief Engineer Scott Newhouse said: “Kilometre accumulation is an important component of the validation process leading up to our low-volume production starting in the fourth quarter of 2020.”

“All three platforms are performing well, and customers are starting to see the benefits of these advanced vehicles,” he added.

As of the end of 2019, Peterbilt’s fleet includes 579EV models in container haulage and regional-haul applications as well as 520EV models in waste and refuse applications. Additional vehicles will be put into service in the first half of 2020 in container haulage, regional haul, medium-duty pickup and delivery applications including the deployment of the 220EV version. Low-volume production will begin in late 2020 for the 220EV and 579EV models, followed by the 520EV in 2021.

In January of this year PACCAR with Peterbilt and Kenworth chose the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to announce their collaboration with DANA on electric powertrain development for Peterbilt’s 220EV and Kenworth’s K270E battery electric vehicles.

Both the 220EV and 270E models have a release date to customers slated for 2020 and represent ideal options for customers looking for a medium-duty truck with a range of between 160 km and 320 km. Both trucks will be equipped with two battery packs and an on-board charger.

Using the vehicle’s DC fast-charging system, the state-of-the-art, high-energy density battery packs can recharge in about an hour, making the 220EV and 270E models ideal for local pickup and delivery, as well as short regional-haul operations.

Moving into the larger Class 8 prime movers and waste-disposal trucks and it is Meritor that takes charge (no pun intended), having announced that it has entered into an agreement with PACCAR to be its non-exclusive supplier of electric powertrains for its Kenworth T680 and Peterbilt 579 and 520 battery-electric vehicles.

Meritor will be the initial launch partner and primary supplier for the integration of functional battery-electric systems on these refuse and heavy-duty chassis. Production is targeted to begin in early 2021.

“The opportunity to equip Kenworth and Peterbilt battery-electric vehicles with Meritor’s products allows us to partner with a valued customer and to continue bringing advanced technologies to market,” said T.J. Reed, vice president of Global Electrification for Meritor.

“We look forward to delivering on our goal to be the premier supplier of electrification technologies for commercial vehicles.”

As mentioned, Peterbilt has three EV models under current test programmes, the second of which is a battery-electric 520EV model for the refuse industry.

“The 520EV low entry, cab-over model is leading the charge in battery-electric vehicles for refuse operations,” said Jason Skoog.

“Demonstrator units have been operating on residential and commercial routes, working a full day on a single charge, and charging overnight.  Our customers have been very impressed with the 520EV’s quiet operation, low maintenance cost and overall performance.  We are excited that customers can begin to take delivery of the Model 520EV next year.”

The Model 520EV is powered by a Meritor/TransPower energy storage subsystem with a total storage capacity of 308 kWh.  It is driven by a TransPower mid-ship motor drive subsystem with up to 430 hp, features a range of about 160 km and a four-hour charge time.

Peterbilt also announced very positive production rates and sales growth for the 520, which has set low-entry cab-over truck production records five years in a row. Since the launch of the 520 in 2017 it boasts the fastest growing presence in the refuse business, making Peterbilt a top player with a best-in-class product.

The 520 is designed to address every segment of the refuse industry.  The truck is available in right-hand, left-hand, right-hand standup and dual-drive configurations.

The updated interior offers a quiet work environment for drivers and allows for simplified integration for body builders.  Powertrain options include the PACCAR MX-11 10.8-litre diesel engine, a natural-gas powered Cummins ISL12-N, as well as the battery-electric 520EV.

“Even at the Model 520’s record production rates, we have more capacity to satisfy the demand of our refuse customers, who continue to benefit from the performance, durability and reliability of this outstanding product,” said Mr. Skoog.

Peterbilt also provided a further insight into the test and development work going on in the background with the recent delivery of a Peterbilt 579EV to Werner Enterprises for its battery electric-powered truck pilot programme.

Werner Enterprises was founded in 1956 and is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in the US, Canada, Mexico and China, the company is a premier transportation and logistics company with coverage throughout North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia.

“Werner is committed to finding alternative ways to keep our trucks environmentally-friendly while staying at the front edge of technology,” said Werner Enterprises President and Chief Executive Officer Derek Leathers.

“Now, we’re excited about putting on some real-world distance with a dedicated customer in southern California over the next year.”

The 579EV delivered to Werner utilises a TransPower energy storage subsystem with a total storage capacity of 352 kWh.  It’s driven by a Meritor Blue-Horizon mid-ship motor drive subsystem with up to 430 hp and features an estimated range of about 240 km and a re-charge time as little as one hour when using a fast-charging system.

Funding for the 579EV prime mover was provided through the California Air Resource Board California Climate Investments (CCI) program, along with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Kenworth had the final say at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, displaying a Level 4 autonomous version of the Kenworth T680 that was conceived and constructed at the PACCAR Innovation Centre.

“Kenworth and the PACCAR Innovation Centre in Silicon Valley are working closely together to explore and develop the latest advanced driver assistance systems and other new technologies that offer safety and efficiency benefits for truck fleets and drivers. The Level 4 Autonomous Kenworth T680 is a perfect platform to study this technology in real-world applications,” said Kenworth Chief Engineer Patrick Dean.

PACCAR has worked with leading experts in the field of high-definition mapping, localisation, perception and path planning to deliver an integrated autonomous solution.

The special Kenworth T680 is equipped with cameras, LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors, and radars to sense the surrounding road environment and to feed fusion algorithms in the perception stack for object identification and tracking.

A global navigation satellite system with an inertial measurement unit combined with LiDAR Point Cloud on a high-definition map provides centimetre-accuracy localisation. The autonomous vehicle software and feedback control logic for actuation are hosted on five computers that record up to 1TB of data per hour of driving.

Mechanical modifications to the Kenworth T680 include redundant steering torque overlay system, upgraded high-capacity alternator, a high-fidelity electronically-controlled air braking system, and the addition of rear seats in the sleeper structure for members of the autonomous engineering team.

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