Peterbilt expands electric truck lineup

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Peterbilt’s 220EV expands the company’s electric truck lineup to three models.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Peterbilt is expanding its test fleet of electric trucks, adding a medium-duty Model 220EV to the previously announced Model 520EV and Model 579EV.

By the end of this year, it means the manufacturer will have more than 30 electric vehicles operating in refuse, regional haul, and urban delivery applications. Five are in the midst of tests today.

“We will now have trucks in the three applications where electric powertrains may have a return on investment for our customers,” Peterbilt general manager Jason Skoog observed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

“We’ve got refuse covered, we’ve got regional haul covered, and we have inner city or local pickup and delivery covered. At Peterbilt we believe those three applications are going to have the most immediate and near-term payback in terms of an ROI for our customers,” he said.

While the 520EV and 579EV use conventional drivelines to connect electric motors and traditional axles, the 220EV incorporates the Meritor Blue Horizon two-speed drive eAxle. This approach opens up space between the frame rails to mount other components, said chief engineer Scott Newhouse. The packaging will support any of the bodies currently available on diesel-powered versions of the trucks.

The power will come from a pair of TransPower lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt battery packs, delivering 148 kWh and 650 volts. Peak power will reach 250 kW, while continuous power will reach 200 kW.

The 650 volts from the batteries are converted to AC voltage that the motor uses to propel the truck.

“It’s been designed to perform as well or better than a diesel powertrain,” Newhouse added.

The final result has a range of 160 km, and the truck can be recharged in an hour when using a DC fast charging system, meeting a particular need for pickup and delivery applications.

An 11kW onboard charger features two different charging ports – a standard 220-volt AC connector used for electric cars and capable of charging the system in 11-13 hours, and a high-voltage fast charger that can do the job in one to three hours.

“In each of these trucks, we have different levels of charging stations for the customers to meet those duty cycles,” said Joshua Goldman, vice-president of business development at TransPower. “We can detune the onboard 70-kw four-hour charger on the 579 to a 12-hour charger if that’s the time they have, or we can upgrade to DC fast charge and charge in as little as one hour with upwards of 125 to 350 kw using DC fast-charge technology developed for cars [but] at a higher voltage needed for the heavy-duty powertrains.”

The Model 220EV’s 650 volts are converted to 14 volts DC for the 12-volt electrical accessories mounted under the cab. There’s an electric motor to run the hydraulic pump for power steering, and another electric motor to run the air compressor.

“The electric system is coolant-cooled, and while the truck is running it will cool the eAxle as well as all the inverters in the truck. And when it goes into charge mode, that coolant is diverted to cool the onboard charger,” Newhouse said.

The first Model 220EV will be delivered this summer to a food and beverage hauler, and six units will be in service before the end of the year. Other expected applications include box trucks for inner-city deliveries, or maybe completing trips between e-commerce fulfillment centers and the post office, Skoog said.

“These are still very expensive vehicles — and right now a lot of grants are aiding to defer a lot of that cost,” Skoog said. “But in order to commercialize, working with our supplier partners and ourselves, you have to figure out how to continue to reduce the cost so there is an ROI.”

“There’s a whole lot of things that have to come together in order to be successful [with electric trucks].”

Customer trials are being supported by further testing at the Paccar Technical Center in Mount Vernon, Wash.


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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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