2009 target launch for new Class 8 diesel-electric drivetrain

Yesterday, ArvinMeritor, Inc. (www.arvinmeritor.com) announced that the company has entered into an agreement with Wal-Mart Transportation to develop a dual-mode, diesel-electric drivetrain for a Class 8 tractor

Yesterday, ArvinMeritor, Inc. announced that the company has entered into an agreement with Wal-Mart Transportation to develop a dual-mode, diesel-electric drivetrain for a Class 8 tractor. The vehicle will be based on the Class 8 ProStar model tractor from International and an engine from Cummins, Inc. will supply the diesel power. Like ArvinMeritor, both companies are current suppliers to Wal-Mart and also partners in the new project.

Dual-mode diesel-electric drivetrains have both mechanical and electrical propulsion systems, not just an electrical launch assist, according to Garrick Hu, recently promoted to v.p. of engineering for ArvinMeritor’s Commercial Vehicle Systems (CVS) business. They use the electric motor drive primarily for periods of high demand under low-speed, high-load operating conditions, such as accelerating from a stop or in urban driving conditions. Once moving, the mechanical propulsion system begins to blend its power with the electric motor until it reaches highway speeds (over 30 mph), where the drive phases to completely mechanical. The electrical system can also provide additional power during hill climbing, even at highway speeds.

In addition to its work at highway speeds, the engine also charges an onboard energy storage system, which provides power to the electric motor when demand is high. Energy that is generated during braking is captured and stored using regenerative braking.

“We’ve been working on development of hybrid drivetrains for some time,” said Carsten J. Reinhardt, president of ArvinMeritor’s (CVS) business. “This Class 8 project is a major step in our continuing work in alternative drivetrain development – both for power transmission and emissions – and holds tremendous promise for the worldwide heavy-duty trucking market in a number of important environmental and economic ways.”

According to Hu, the new vehicle will feature a long list environmentally friendly enhancements, including: sufficient on-board battery power to handle overnight hotel loads, avoiding the need for shore-power or engine idling during rest periods; the ability to operate at low speeds for sustained periods of time without the use of the diesel engine; the elimination of engine idling during stops and improved emissions through lower fuel consumption.

It will also include a number of technology-enabled safety enhancements, such as air disc brakes for improved stopping capability, an advanced anti-lock braking system (ABS), roll stability control, blind spot detection and collision warning and mitigation. The project’s ultimate potential, however, goes beyond even this list, according to Hu. “The things that can come from this are so exciting,” he noted.

ArvinMeritor will provide the tandem axle, regenerative braking system, air disc brakes and advanced ABS with integrated stability control and driver assistance systems (from Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems), software, electronic controls, transfer case and motors, as well as the battery power from a third party.

For Wal-Mart, the project is a step toward its announced intention to double the fuel efficiency of its heavy-duty truck fleet in ten years. “ArvinMeritor is a leader in all areas of drivetrain and brake system development for heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is an ideal partner for Wal-Mart for the development of this dual-mode diesel-electric systems,” said Tim Yatsko, senior vice president-transportation for Wal-Mart. “We knew it would take a highly integrated approach, and we believe ArvinMeritor understands all of the pieces of the puzzle needed to complete this picture.”

In March 2005, ArvinMeritor also announced an arrangement with Unicell on a commercial pick-up and delivery program with an ArvinMeritor alternative drivetrain. The vehicle features the company’s electric axle and system integration of motors, gears and controls. It is designed to consume no fossil fuel and produce zero emissions plus provide a ten percent increase in driver productivity from vehicle enhancements. According to ArvinMeritor, the end-user customer is considering a larger order of the vehicle.

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