ATLANTA, GA – Meritor is developing a family of electric drive axles, suspensions, and support systems as it prepares for an era of electrified commercial vehicles.
“We see electrification technology advancing, and we see battery costs coming down,” said Cheri Lantz, vice president and Chief Strategy Officer, during a presentation at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show. “As we see electrification coming along, we plan to leverage our many years of experience in e-mobility.”
The e-carrier design will be the basis for various drivetrain configurations including electric, hybrid, single or tandem axles, with various options based on application. Designed for city deliveries, medium-duty vehicles and transit buses, as well as off-road and severe-duty applications, the electrified, lightweight carrier offers several benefits over remote-mounted electric motor configurations, the company adds.
“Essentially, we’re focusing on integrating an electric motor into the differential carrier,” explained Jay Craig, Meritor president and Chief Executive Officer.
Meritor’s e-carrier is designed to drop in and replace a conventional mechanical carrier, freeing space for batteries and other electrical components, offering easier installation, and establishing a protected location inside the frame rails to mount batteries.
It eliminates the cost and weight associated with a driveline and mounting a remote motor with brackets, the company says.
“We’ve also incorporated two-speed gearing, which allows us to downsize the motor, which gives you a lighter-weight motor and allows you to handle heavier loads, and it allows us to operate right in that sweet spot for motor efficiency,” Lantz said. “Within that e-carrier we got customizable gearing. It allows us to scale up and scale down to serve a wide range of applications.”
Products to be developed in the near term include an integrated two-speed electrical carrier platform that can deliver 150-200 kilowatts of continuous power, and fits a variety of applications on rigid and independent suspensions.
Also to be included is a 13Xe rigid axle capable of 200 kilowatts of continuous power and featuring customizable gearing; electric-driving independent suspensions for military, emergency, off-highway, and construction vehicles; and an electric eCorner module for low-floor applications like Class 4-5 trucks, transit buses, and pickup and delivery. An eCorner module on display at the show had a trailing arm independent suspension, which would be used for applications that have a low floor extending back between a vehicle’s rear wheels.
Rounding out the product line will be a braking system optimized for eAxles, including the Next Generation Quadraulic brake and Next Generation Air Disc Brake, both designed for hybrid or electric vehicles with regenerative braking.
“In an electric vehicle you have regenerative braking, so you just don’t use your brakes as much. We’ve been able to reduce the wearable content and introduce different design choices that can save you cost and weight,” Lantz says.
All the components will be part of a demonstration vehicle to be built in 2018. Most are expected to come to market within three to five years, she adds.
Said Craig: “This is the most rapidly changing environment we’ve seen in commercial vehicles in quite a period of time … We’ve had a lot of interrest [at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show] from many OE’s about how we can immediately start to work with them to launch demonstrator and production vehicles as well.”
– The original version of this article was updated to include comments from Lantz.
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