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Saf Holland Saf Tra Kr E Axle Design North America

Zero-emission reefer trailers begin rollout in North American market

March 15, 2022
Using the energy generated by trailer axles to power trailer refrigeration units is another step toward lower emissions for foodservice fleets and the cold chain.

Trailer builders and component developers are finding more ways to turn the energy of movement into power for reefer haulers. Electronic axles, known as e-axles, can get fleets lower emissions while keeping the cold supply chain clear.

After some successful testing in Europe, SAF-Holland is starting to deploy its system in North America. And e-mobility company ConMet eMobility has partnered with two major companies to bring its eHub to the West Coast and eventually elsewhere in the U.S.

See more: Understanding e-axle maintenance

These companies used American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting to show off their latest advancements and partnerships in e-mobility, which promise to reduce noise and get fleets closer to zero-emission goals this century. Here’s a look at some of those announcements that came out of the Orlando show in March.

ConMet partners with Carrier on eHub solution

ConMet used TMC to announce some of its latest partnerships. It plans to increase sales of its PreSet Plus eHub, which pairs an in-wheel electric motor with a ConMet PreSet Plus hub assembly engineered to convert it to electricity. ConMet is partnering with Great Dane and Carrier Transcold to get its eHub on more trailers.

The electricity from the eHub is stored in a high-capacity, lightweight battery that sits beneath a trailer, providing the vehicle with auxiliary power. When shared with transport refrigeration units (TRUs), this regenerative energy can provide zero-emission refrigeration to a fully loaded trailer, eliminating the need for a separate diesel engine and reducing overall fuel consumption.

The technology can deliver a zero-emission transport refrigeration solution when paired with a Carrier Vector unit. As California and other states push to make zero-emissions TRUs mandatory, Marc Trahand, VP and general manager of ConMet, said the eHub solution would allow fleets to get there ahead of pending regulations. 

Giant food distributor Sysco Corp. began testing the system in Riverside, California, earlier this year, ConMet and Carrier announced. “We are proud to see our technology already making a positive change,” Trahand said. “Results from our first commercial evaluation program prove how powerful the eHub system is, generating enough electricity to power the TRU over an entire foodservice delivery route.”

ConMet also partnered with Great Dane, the first trailer OEM to specify a preconfigured trailer option for ConMet’s eHub system. The Great Dane Everest Trailer, with a PreSet Plus eHub system, can achieve zero-emission trailer refrigeration, creating a more carbon-friendly footprint through electrification, Dean Engelage, Great Dane president, told FleetOwner at the event. 

SAF-Holland brings its TRAKr e-axles to North America

After extensive testing in Europe and South Africa, SAF-Holland has started the market and product development phase of its trailer electric axles on real-world transportation applications for North America. The SAF TRAKr (or recuperative axle) is currently undergoing intensive testing worldwide, the company announced at TMC. 

Bill Hicks, SAF-Holland’s trailer suspension and axle product manager, said the test customers reported positive experiences since the product was first announced in 2018. The SAF TRAKr uses a high-voltage generator module for electric power regeneration to lower the emissions and fuel consumption of the overall vehicle. SAF-Holland e-axles have undergone rigorous testing in real-world operations in Europe and South Africa.

“The initial feedback from the drivers and fleet managers in Europe has been very positive, and there is an increase in demand for equipping more test vehicles with the electric axles,” said Mike Ginocchio, SAF-Hollan VP Engineering in the Americas.

“These test vehicles, which are currently on the road in real-life situations, are supporting our TRAKr North American launch progress by supplying us with important information regarding the use and application profile as we continue development,” explains Ginocchio.

Along with lower emission benefits, the TRAKr e-axle allows the trailer’s TRU to operate when uncoupled without the use of diesel fuel, which is highly beneficial for night-time inner-city deliveries. The electrical operation also extends the service life of the individual TRU components.

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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